10 Best Tire Air Compressors Available Today: Buyers Guide Included
An air compressor is a valuable asset in your garage. You can use it to inflate the tires on your car, balls and for countless other applications. A few years back these tools were more than just expensive and they required all kinds of preparations and additional gadgets to work. Today, they are small, powerful and effective. However, they are complicated as well, so you will need to know what to look for and which model is the most suitable for your requirements. All of that and much more will be explained below.
Car tire air compressors: Basics
These tools are made to inflate the tires among other things. They have an electric motor usually paired with a piston that will create air pressure and push it inside the tire using a hose. The first thing to remember is that there are two main types. All of the compressors can be divided into negative and positive displacement.
Car tire air compressors can be divided according to the pressure they make. The low-pressure models can generate up to 100 PSI. They are also known as LPAC. Mid-pressure models can generate between 151 and 1000 PSI. The high-pressure models are the ones that generate any pressure above 1000 PSI.
When you are looking for a new product of this kind you need to consider the CFM or discharge pressure. In other terms, this is the value that explains how fast an air compressor can inflate a tire or something else. We will add that you should also consider the most desirable size, technology, and accessories available.
Some models come with advanced technology which will detect the air pressure in a tire and automatically correct it. New models can inflate or deflate the tire according to the data provided.
3 common types of car tire air compressors
As we have mentioned air compressors for car tires do come in different types. The first type is a wireless model that has a small battery. You will recharge the battery before you go on a trip and you will keep the air compressor inside a trunk. When the need is presented, you will use it to inflate the tire. These models are small and compact but they can be used for small punctures and emergencies.
The second type of car tire air compressors is basically identical to the first type we mentioned above, but they use car lighter power source in a car. As such, they are more convenient and can be more powerful but they are also designed for emergencies only. There is no need to add that this type doesn’t have a rechargeable battery and you will use the power source from a car lighter only.
The third type is linked to models that are much bigger. They are wired and they are designed to be used in a garage. You need a power socket to use them. The main advantages are obvious. You can inflate any tire in less time and you can use this air compressor for more demanding applications. They are a bit more expensive than the first two types.
Buyers guide for the best car tire air compressor
In the lack of a better word, you do need an air compressor that meets all your requirements. To get the best choice, you will have to look for specific factors and requirements that the unit meets. Below we will list and explain all the factors that deserve your attention. In return, you will end up with a model that is just perfect for all purposes you have in mind,
Noise it generates
The first thing to keep in mind is the noise level an air compressor generates. All manufacturers will list the loudness on the product itself. The key is to know which value you need. 65 dB is the best choice. Models of this kind are reasonably affordable but they are powerful. They generate the same level of noise a vacuum cleaner which makes them appealing for most users.
In a nutshell, the size or portability of the air compressor is a mandatory thing to consider. You will need a model that can be placed inside a trunk and it won’t occupy a lot of space. Small emergency use models are the best in this case scenario. They can be used with the car lighter power source and they don’t have the battery. But, units that come with a battery are appealing as well. They are extremely portable and they can be used far away from your car. Just keep in mind that the air compressor should be able to help you when you have a flat tire but it won’t occupy half of the trunk.
Your budget will usually be one of the most important factors and the one that can make a massive difference. Here you need to look at the power, the size, and the advanced features. More powerful air compressors are more expensive. The ones that are beautifully made and come with advanced features such as automatic tire inflating are more expensive as well. We advise you to get a model that is more powerful. Let this be your first factor to consider and the game-changer.
PSI is used to define how much power an air compressor has. The higher the value, the more powerful the compressor is. These days you can find anything between 50 and 300 PSI. We like more powerful models but they are more expensive as well. In essence, you won’t need a unit with more than 150 PSI. Don’t forget that more powerful unit will inflate the tire in less time.
The lightweight car tire air compressors are the most popular these days. A unit can have a weight of 5 pounds or even less and this advantage allows you to carry the tool anywhere and to use it for more applications. This factor is irrelevant for some of you which is fine. If you are going to use it in emergencies only, then the weight doesn’t have a crucial role.
This is a system that will stop inflating a tire when the air pressure reaches the desired level. All you have to do is to set the desired PSI and start the process. Once the air compressor detects that the PSI is reached it will stop inflating. The benefits are obvious. Models with this system are easier to use and they have a positive effect on the lifespan of the tires. Your tires will last longer and you will always get the most suitable PSI value. Keep in mind that all cars should have recommended values presented on the B pillar. If not, use the owner’s manual to find values your car manufacturer recommends.
Accessories refer to the additional elements included in the package that allows you to use an air compressor for more purposes. For example, you can get a needle inflator that allows you to inflate balls and mattresses with your new air compressor. It is a small addition that has a huge, positive effect. Usually, you will get around 3 accessories included. If they are not available in the package you will probably have to purchase them additionally after some time. We prefer this factor due to its overall importance.
Top 10 car tire air compressors reviewed
Below are the top 10 models of the modern generation. Each one has been properly tested and each one had to meet our tough requirements in order to be presented on the list. Just to add, we tested over 40 models in order to find 10 that are highly recommended. Take your time and pay close attention to all the features and systems these models have. They are going to be needed.
Kensun D1001 AC/DC Heavy Duty Multi-Function Air Compressor Tire Inflator
The first model we have here is more than just appealing. The tested unit can be powered by a car lighter or AC adapter. You get both power cords included in the package so you can use each one according to your need. The maximum power of the unit is 40PSI and it will generate 11 liters of air per minute. This is a decent result and can be the most important for all of you. There is a gauge present as well which will help you inflate the tire or anything else precisely as you want. The unit comes with 21.7 inches hose with the clip-on at the end. You also get accessories that can be used to inflate the mattresses, balls and etc.
The main advantage of this unit is the simplicity paired with advanced features. You get a small unit of 4 pounds that can be used for more tasks than you can imagine. At the same time, you will enjoy the low level of noise and the small size. This model can be transported in any trunk or a backpack and used when needed. The value for money is great as well. It is one of the more affordable models available on the market that still offers impressive performances.
- Value for money
- Easy to use
- Low noise level
- Accessories included
- Plastic construction
Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor
The next model on our list is an advanced unit that comes with all the features you are going to need. You get 12 feet power cord which is paired with 30 Amps fuse which should prevent any damages. The hose for the inflating is present as well and it is surprisingly long. All of this is packaged in a nice pouch and looks elegant. In addition, this benefit refers to the unit itself. You can see a high level of attention to detail and high-quality construction.
When it comes to power, you will be more than just interested to know 100PSI is the max value. This is more than enough for average users and it can be the main reason why so many people have selected this particular model. The size is 9.2x8x8 inches which makes it very small and compact. The weight is kept at a minimum of 6.2 pounds. The unit will detect when the tire is properly inflated and stop the process.
- 150 PSI
- Advanced features
- Compact and lightweight
- Clip design
- Sensitive carrying bag
VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor
VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor is a slightly unique model that is also very popular these days. It can generate up to 60PSI, enough for most users. The battery can hold juice for 20 minutes before it has to be recharged. You can use it with the car lighter or with the clamps that are included in the package. They are made from brass so we believe that the tested unit is a well-made and durable air compressor.
Other things we can reveal include the strong construction and the LEDs. Now you can illuminate any section you want to inflate and you can use it at night. The bottom line here is that the model we tested is more suitable for users who need a heavy-duty air compressor to inflate their tires. It is reasonably big and heavy but these are not drawbacks.
- The battery is great and can last 20 minutes
- Heavy-duty construction
- Uses a lot of power
- It is heavier than average
Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station 12-Volt or 120-Volt Inflator
Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station 12-Volt or 120-Volt Inflator is one model you have to like. It can generat3e up to 160PSI of air pressure which is above average and it comes in a nice package made from durable plastic. The inner components are more durable than you may believe. Each product is paired with a 2-year warranty and the value for money is impressive. Don’t forget that this is a bigger and more powerful car tire air compressor so you should get it only if you have a need for that power.
As you can expect the unit doesn’t have a rechargeable battery. You will have to connect it to the car lighter and use it when needed. In the package, you also get a pressure gauge and all kinds of accessories that can help you inflate balls, matrasses, and other items. Keep in mind that the unit will stop inflating the tire when the desired pressure is reached. All of this means that you get a decent model that has all you will ever need and something more.
- Value for money
- Pressure gauge
- Modern design
- Can’t be recharged
- Big size
LifeLine AAA 300 PSI 12 Volt DC Air Compressor
As you can see the tested model is different than most other units available on the market. The first difference is power. You can use it to inflate any tire you want within seconds. The maximum PSI is 300 which is a stunning result. But, the unit is small and compact and can be carried in any bag. It is lightweight as well and comes with different accessories that allow you to use it for all kinds of purposes. Keep in mind that it uses car lighter to operate and it will inflate an average tire within 8 minutes. This isn’t fast but keep in mind that the unit is small and compact.
The construction is reasonably durable but below average. We didn’t have any issues on the tests and we believe that the air compressor can be used for years without any damages or problems. Don’t forget that this particular model doesn’t come with the automatic shutdown feature. This means that you will have to stop the inflating process by yourself. It isn’t a big deal and it shouldn’t be a major issue for most of you.
- Small and compact
- 300PSI is impressive
- Slim design
- Low energy consumption
- Complicated user manual
- Plastic construction
Slime 40022 12-Volt Digital Tire Inflator
All users who have a need to get an affordable air compressor that is small and compact but versatile should stay focused. The tested model is a masterpiece in its own price range. You can use it with car lighter power source and you can use it for anything you like thanks to the included accessories. The air compressor in question has a weight of just one pound, impressive you should add. It also has an LED that will help you illuminate the tire at night and inflate it in 6 minutes. The just mentioned time refers to average size tires.
There are some advanced features as well. First and foremost the air compressor has a display where you can adjust the value and it will do all the hard work instead of you. Once the entered value is met the air compressor will turn itself off. This makes it incredibly appealing to use and versatile. The unit doesn’t support power cord meaning you can only use it with the car lighter power source. It isn’t a major drawback but it is something we had to mention. In addition, the unit is paired with a long warranty and great customer support.
- Small size
- Smart features
- LED included
- Can be powered by a car lighter only
PORTER-CABLE 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
It is obvious that the model in question is an advanced unit that targets more advanced applications. The air compressor runs on 120V and can be used to inflate tires, balls, mattresses and anything else. The 90PSI is a decent result that won’t cause any lack of power. In addition, this particular model offers 2.0 SCFM. You can have it in red or black color according to your preference. Both versions are made in the same way and come with the same features and advantages.
The main advantage here is the presence of a 3.5-gallon tank. Thanks to a powerful oil-free electric motor and two gauges you can use the air compressor for bigger tires without having to use additional air pressure source. We also liked the fact gauges are extremely accurate. The noise is 82 dB which is higher than average. After all, this is a bigger air compressor that is more sophisticated and more advanced than the other units mentioned above. You can place it on a flat and soft surface a mat for instance and the noise level will be significantly decreased.
- 5-gallon tank
- Available in 2 colors
- 2 gauges
- Powerful electric motor
- Can be used for more advanced applications
- Size may be an issue
- Loud compared to other air compressors
Master Flow MF-1040 Cyclone High Volume Portable Air Compressor
At first sight, the Master Flow MF-1040 Cyclone High Volume Portable Air Compressor looks like an expensive and professional air compressor. There is some truth here. The unit is professional model indeed and comes with some features we liked a lot. For instance, you get 150PSI and 30 liters of air per minute. The bright yellow color makes it appealing and looks like a heavy-duty power tool. After all, it is made to impresses you and to provide years of usability.
The air compressor also comes with a bag that allows you to carry it and transport it whenever you need. It is a nice addition that doesn’t increase the cost of the unit. In the package, the manufacturer offers screw-in accessories that are safer to use but do require a bit more time to apply. You also get a long hose which makes the overall choice even better. Although we did have any issues on our tests some owners reported that the air compressor has design flaws. It is known to lose power at some point. If that happens make sure to check the power cord and all the contacts.
- Appealing design
- 30 liters per minute
- Small yet powerful
- One color only
- Possible contact issues
Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor can provide 120 PSI of air pressure and it comes with clamps which allow you to attach it to the car battery and use it directly, without any other power source. We also must add that this model is designed for SUV and larger tires in general. It is a heavy-duty model that offers 12 feet long hose and long power cables. We liked the construction and believe it is one of the main advantages the unit offers. All the components are made from metal and durable materials meaning you will be able to use the air compressor as long as you want for any purpose you have in mind.
In the package, you get 3 accessories used to inflate all sorts of things such as matrasses, balls and etc. The unit is equipped with an LED that can illuminate anything you need to inflate. The last but not least advantage is the presence of rubber legs. They are installed in order to make the air compressor quieter and to eliminate vibrations. They work well and you will appreciate this advantage the first time you use the air compressor. All of this comes at a price.
- Solid construction
- Accessories available
- Long hose
Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator
Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator is the last model on our list but also one of the very popular choices. The unit can inflate an average car tire in 2 minutes and offers 150PSI. All of these are impressive facts. We liked the low noise level and the overall constructions which makes it look durable and like a professional model. ON the other hand, it isn’t very expensive and targets homeowners who need a durable, effective and powerful air compressor.
The weight is kept at a minimum but still a bit higher than we liked. The attention to detail is at the highest level possible and you will probably like how this air compressor looks. The package includes all the accessories you will need and 17 feet hose. You can get additional accessories when needed and make the most out of this air compressor.
- Fast air compressor
- Durable construction
- User manual
Understanding the common versions of car tire air inflators
There are still a few things you will need to know regarding this matter. Below we will list and explain all the main differences of car tire inflators and help you understand which type is the most suitable for you.
Tire inflators and air compressors are not the same things
Tire inflators are the usually smaller type of air compressors that are designed for one purpose only, to inflate a tire. Air compressor is a versatile power tool that can provide air pressure to literally anything and for any purpose. As such we can deduce that air compressors are the more expensive, bigger and more appealing type of tire inflators. Tire inflators are small and compact units with basic purpose.
Commercial tire inflators
These units are massive and they are extremely expensive. As you would believe they are made for commercial applications. In a nutshell, they have large electric motors and tanks that can contain a lot of air. But, if you need to inflate a tire occasionally you don’t need a commercial tire inflator. You need a small and c compact unit that can fit in your trunk. You need 2 gallons of air, not more.
What are roadside tire inflators?
These products are basically the same as conventional tire inflators just much smaller. You will have one in your trunk and you can use it with the car battery or the power socket. But, you will need a lot of time to inflate a tire due to the overall size of the unit, which is small as we have mentioned. One of the main advantages is the feature that will shut down the inflator once the desired air pressure is reached. Most models come with a small gauge that will measure the air pressure in the tire.
We liked some of the more advanced features. You can get a model that comes with a yellow hazard light which will warn other drivers that you are next to the road. We also liked the LED or torchlight feature. Basically, you get a flashlight that can be used whenever you have need. The bottom line is that roadside tire inflators are appealing to own and they are extremely useful when needed. They are affordable as well, which is another advantage.
How you can choose the best portable tire inflator for your applications?
There are several things you will need to consider. The first thing is the overall power. A unit that can provide higher pressure output will inflate the tire in less time meaning you will need less time to get back on the road. We always prefer more powerful models. Yes, they are bigger and more expensive, but they are also more effective and more desirable.
The next thing to consider is the presence of an automatic shutdown feature. It is used to turn off the air compressor once the desired air pressure is reached. This simply prolongs the tire lifespan and can make the overall task easier. If there is no such feature you will need to look on the B pillars of your car and find the recommended values. Inflate the tires according to those values. In addition, you should consider the method you can provide the data. There are automatic and manual tire inflators. We prefer automatic ones.
The next thing to consider is size and weight. Larger models usually can inflate a tire in less time but they require more space. Smaller models are easier to carry and store but they are less powerful. It is up to you.
One thing that has to be included is the pressure gauge. If your air compressor doesn’t have it you will need to get it additionally. This simply means that choosing a model that comes with this feature is an essential choice and can be a game-changer. The bottom line is to get a model that won’t require you to get anything additionally. An air compressor should be a complete system with all the features you will ever need.
We did mention that air compressors can be powered using several methods. You have battery-powered models that will require from you to recharge the battery and store them, there are models that work by using the car lighter power source inside a car and there are models that come with electrical socket support. Ideally, you will get a model that can be powered in any way that is the most appealing to you. For instance, an air compressor that has a battery and can be powered by the car lighter and the power socket is the most versatile choice. The ones with a battery are desirable as well. The last choice is available in the form of air compressors that work only with a car lighter and they don’t have a battery. Models of this type are the most affordable and they do come with all kinds of additional features and systems you will need.
Air compressor we recommend
When you decide that a new air compressor is something you need and want to own as soon as possible you are ready to start choosing the model that is just right for you. Be free to take a closer look at all the factors and elements we mentioned above and take your time.
If you are in the hurry and you want our recommendation as soon as possible here it is. The Slime 40022 12-volt Tire Inflator is the best choice for most of you. First and foremost this unit comes with automatic shutdown which will stop inflating the tire one the air pressure reaches the desired level. The system is very appealing especially for users who don’t know which the correct tire pressure is.
The Slime 40022 12-volt Tire Inflator can be used for any purpose you have on your mind. For instance, you can use it to inflate the tires, mattresses, balls and anything else. The inflator in question is affordable, powerful and comes with all the features you will need.
Take your time and always deduce which air compressor meets all your requirements. Yes all of them are made to be used for different purposes and all of them are appealing but only one is the best for you and your purposes.
The final word
We presented you with all the models that are popular today and the best according to our tests. We presented you the ultimate buyer’s guide that offers all the points you need to consider. Now is your turn to choose a model that is the best and that offers all the features you will need. Just keep in mind that these 10 models are special and a safe choice.