Our vehicles are an expensive investment, so it’s to our own best interest to keep them running, and running well, and this includes tire maintenance. Our tires can and do lose a bit of air each month, and if you do regularly check your tires pressure, you could end up with a flat on a lonely, dark and secluded highway at night, and no one wants that.
If your tires lose air, you have two choices: Go to your local gas station or mechanic shop and fill them up with air, or invest in an inexpensive, useful air compressor. Below, we have gathered together some useful information, along with some of the worlds best air compressors, to assist you in choosing the best portable air pump for car tires.
A quick look at the top rated air compressor
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6 Best Portable Air Pump for Car Tires Reviewed
The very versatile Porter-Cable 3.5 gallon 135 psi pancake compressor is a trim compressor that is great to use for inflating the tires of your motorized vehicle, bike, air mattress or other inflatables.
This compressor is also used for airbrushing, cleaning, bolting, wrenching, brad nailing, stapling, finish nailing, framing nailing, inflating as well as spraying. It has an oil free pump that is built for extended use with little or no maintenance, a low 10 amp 120-volt motor the performs in the harsh conditions of winter as well with no problem.
This portable, compact air compressor weighs in at a nice, light, 26 pounds so it’s perfect for those of you who may need one for a small business as it is powerful enough to be used with high power tools, or simply for home use.
Air delivery SCFM at 40 psi is 3.5, and at 90 psi, 2.6. The unit has an on/off switch, a pressure switch, safety valve, tank pressure gauge, outlet pressure gauge, regulator, air compressor pump, drain valve.
This compressor has an advanced cooling system which uses an engineered fan, and the thermal overload protector protects your motor from overheating by shutting the compressor down if the motor gets too hot. All air compressors will create condensation, so the drain valve allows you to release the condensation when you are done with each job.
- Durable oil-free pump for long life.
- Low Amp 120-Volt motor.
- Built for portability at 26 lbs.
- 3.5 Gal. tank.
- 2 SCFM delivered 90 PSI pump.
Summary- The Porter-Cable 3.5 gallon 135 psi pancake compressor is one of the best air pumps on the market. Durable, heavy duty, portable at 26 pounds, versatile enough for inflatables such as toys, air mattresses and some air driven power tools.
Performs well in winter, oil-free for no maintenance, safety valve, tank pressure gauge, outlet pressure gauge, regulator, and a drainage valve for condensation. This pump has an advanced cooling system, and a thermal overload protector. We really like this air pump, and consider it one of our best, giving it a 5-star rating.
The EPAuto 12 volt DC Auto Portable Air Compressor Pump is a small, compact, portable air pump that has a modern, stylish design. Easy to use, simply plug the 10 amp, EPAuto 12 volt into your cars cigarette lighter, it’s just that simple.
When your vehicle’s tires need a bit of air, or you are getting your bike ready for spring, along with other inflatables, this air compressor will handle it all just fine as it comes with handy adaptors. You also have the peace of mind to know that this air compressor inflates very quickly, inflating a standard size tire to 30psi in less than 5 minutes.
While it has an easy to read a meter, conveniently placed, you still might feel apprehensive so the designers included an automatic shut off, so you don’t risk overinflating the tire. A very nice feature is the LED flashlight, which is just what you need in case you have the unpleasant duty of pumping up your tire on a dark, desolate road at night. This LED flashlight has 3 modes: Bright torch, emergency flashing, and red warning. There is an auto shut off to prevent over inflating your tire as well.
- Auto shut off at a desired pressure.
- Three LED flashlight modes: Bright Torch, Emergency Flashing and Red Warning.
- Inflates quickly: A standard flat tire to 30 PSI is under 5 minutes.
- Adaptors for balls and inflatables.
- 12V cigarette lighter socket power source.
Summary- The EPAuto 12 volt DC Auto Portable Air Compressor Pump is a small, stylishly designed, versatile pump for your cars tires. It has an auto shut off, three LED flashlight modes, inflates fast, and has adaptors for balls, toys and other inflatables. This uses your 12-volt cigarette lighter socket as a power source, and an easy to read a meter. The EPAuto has a solid design, and customer reviews are generally favorable.
The VIAIR 300P Portable Compressor is one tire pump kit that its manufacturer says can inflate a 33 inch tire with ease. It comes complete with an inflator/deflator hose, 8 foot power cord, a 100psi gauge to monitor tire pressure, and a convenient, zippered carrying bag for easy storage.
This is a 12 volt air compressor, operating on a permanent magnetic motor, a duty cycle of 33 percent at 100 psi, maximum working pressure of 150 psi, heavy duty battery clamps with 40 amp inline fuse, maximum amp draw of 30 amps, ingress protection rating of IP54, and weighs in at 8.7 pounds with a 25 foot air hose.
The 2 inch inline pressure gauge allows you to monitor the pressure during inflation of deflation of the tire, which means no more going back and forth between tire chuck and pressure gauge. The intermittent deflation feature allows for fast downward pressure adjustments.
This model has an automatic thermal overload protector. This prevents your air compressor from overheating, which will cause permanent damage, and automatically stops the flow of power to the compressor if it senses that the internal operating temperatures reach critical levels.
- Includes a 25 foot air inflator/deflator hose.
- A tough carry bag with zipper closure.
- Heavy duty battery clamps.
- Maximum amp draw is 30 Amp.
- Automatic shut off.
Summary- The VIAIR 300P Portable Compressor is a 12 volt compressor, permanent magnetic motor, a duty cycle of 33 percent at 100 psi, maximum amp draw of 30 amps, and IP rating of IP54, weighs 8.7 pounds with an 8 foot power cord, and an air hose of 25 feet.
Heavy duty battery clamps, Automatic thermal overload protector, inline pressure gauge, strong and durable zippered carrying case, make this a good choice for someone who wants a dependable, state of the art air pump.
The P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator is a stylish, portable, durable and hardworking addition to ensure your vehicles proper maintenance. This versatile air compressor can be used on the families bikes, motorcycles, camping mattresses, and sporting equipment such as basketballs, footballs, and comes complete with adapters for each task and a Presta valve for bikes.
Fast and powerful, this air compressor has no problem inflating a standard tire from a flat to a full 30 psi in under 5 minutes. Another added plus is the fact that this portable air compressor can work without an external power source, and instead is powered your battery, which comes in handy in case you become stalled on a road with no available power source.
Thanks to an internal microprocessor, this model also has an automatic shutoff, which means once you reach the desired pressure, the compressor will shut down. It has a 13-foot reinforced hose and rubber feet at the bottom of the compressor add to its stability. Easy to use, simply plug into your 12-volt cigarette lighter socket and set the pressure on the back lit LCD screen. This model comes with a convenient carrying case for easy storage.
- Battery Powered.
- Works quickly and very Powerful.
- Versatile, used for bikes, vehicles and other inflatables.
- Internal microprocessor for accurate automatic shutoff.
- Compact, lightweight and portable.
Summary- The P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator is a 12 volt, DC air compressor is car battery powered, fast and powerful, inflates a standard tire in under 5 minutes. Maximum of 100 psi, automatic shutoff when pressure is reached, reinforced 13-foot hose, and made of durable, high impact plastic with rubber feet to add to stability.
Comes with a handy carrying case, easy to use simply plug into your cigarette lighter socket, set desired pressure on the LCD screen. Versatile and can inflate bike tires, air mattresses, toys and rafts.
The Slime 40026 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator is a heavy duty, tough air compressor that is fast as well as powerful, and can inflate a standard vehicle tire in around 2 minutes by conveniently connecting to your vehicle’s battery.
The 22 foot, coil air hose comes with an in-line dial gauge, and a twist connect fitting which means it is much more secure than a clip on a hose, and to prevent the motor from overheating, it comes with an internal thermal breaker.
It has a built-in pressure gauge in shock resistant housing, a super bright LED light for night time use, aluminum locking handle, 8 foot power cord, and adapters which will allow you to also inflate toys, air mattresses, and sports balls.
This air pump has a dual piston motor for maximum inflation power, a heavy duty carrying case, alligator clip power adapter, CFM is 1.9 cfm average, integrated folding handle, and standard Schrader style connections.
While this compressor may look formidable in design, it is extremely easy to use. Simply take the twist to connect air fitting and hook it up to the compressor, then connect the opposite end connector to the tire’s valve stem, attach battery clips to your vehicle’s battery and inflate your tire.
- Super bright LED light.
- 30 foot total reach with 22 foot air hose and 8 foot power cord.
- Automatic shutoff to prevent overheating.
- Connects directly to your vehicles battery.
- Versatile and can inflate a variety of inflatables.
Summary- The Slime 40026 2X Tire Inflator is a strong, tough, easy to use, and durable air compressor that inflates a standard tire in around 2 minutes. Powered by your vehicles battery, 22 foot coil air hose with in-line dial gauge and twist connect fitting. Internal thermal breaker, built-in pressure gauge, bright LED light, aluminum locking handle, 8 foot power cord, and adaptors for toys, balls and other inflatables.
The VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor is a piston type, CFM 1.83 compressor with a durable, heavy duty, compact design, easy to carry at 5 pounds, and is can function for up to 20 minutes at 30 psi.
It comes with high strength stainless steel valves, anodized aluminum alloy cylinder, 3 piece set of inflation tips, and a 120 psi air pressure gauge. it has a heavy duty, direct driven motor, the entire design is oil-less and so maintenance free, a maximum ap draw of 14.5 amps (12 volts), and a maximum working pressure of 60 psi.
This portable air compressor operates on 12 volts DC and is versatile enough to not only handle tires but also sports balls, air mattresses, and rubber rafts. For tires, it works great for standard tires up to 31 inches in diameter and up to 60 psi. This compressor includes a screw on, 36 inch inflator hose, pressure monitoring gauge, built-in LED work light and dual heavy duty battery clamps with a 40 amp inline fuse.
- Tough, heavy duty direct driven motor.
- 120 psi air pressure gauge.
- Maintenance free, oil-less design.
- Portable and compact.
- 3 foot long inflation hose, 10 foot long heavy duty cord.
Summary- The VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor has a heavy duty, gear free, direct driven motor, 120 psi air pressure gauge, maintenance free, oil-less design, and portable and compact at 5 pounds.
It has a 3 foot long inflation hose with a 10 foot long heavy duty cord, built-in LED work light, dual heavy duty battery clamps, and can function for 20 continuous minutes at 30 psi. This is a nice basic model, that is low maintenance and is designed to give you years of trouble free service.
How to Choose the Right Air Compressor?
Before you begin to search for an air compressor, consider what you need this for. For instance, if you have a small business with a workshop, you’ll need an air compressor that will handle your vehicle’s tires and also be able to handle any power tools which require an air compressor. If you have other inflatables, make a note of that as you may need to purchase a compressor with adapters.
1. What is the SCFM- CFM is the cubic feet per minute, or the SCFM, Standard cubic feet per minute should be listed on the spec sheet. CFM tells you how quickly the compressor will provide air to your tires, tools or other inflatables. CFM can be visualized easily, just think of a power tool you own which requires a certain CFM, and if the compressor cannot supply the air, the tool will not work. For your convenience, every compressor on the marketplace has been tested at 90 psi.
2. Versatility- While the main purpose of having an air compressor is to inflate tires, sit back and do some research on the versatility of the unit, as the more versatile an air compressor is, the more quickly it pays for itself. For example, if you are an artist, you can purchase a versatile compressor that has an adaptor for airbrushing, or if you enjoy camping with inflatable mattresses, you can use it for that. Finally, consider your workshop, and any tools you’d like to purchase that requires an air compressor.
3. Tank size- Small air compressors can hold 1 gallon of air, while larger ones can hold up to 6 gallons of air. When the air compressor runs out of the air, the motor will stop inflating in order to draw more air into the tank. This can be annoying if you have a lot of tires to inflate or jobs to work on, so make sure your tank is large enough so you will not have to constantly start and stop.
4. Size- If you have a small business where you need to tote your air compressor or pack it into the back of a van, consider the size of the unit. They have two types of air compressors: Stationary and portable. If size is not a factor, and you know that your air compressor will stay in the same area, then make sure you choose one with both a hose and power cord of good lengths. If you want an air pump to travel with you on the road, choose a portable version.
5. Power Source- This will depend on your personal preferences. These portable car tire air pumps will either connect to your vehicle’s battery, or to your vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket. If you need a simple, small portable model, then the cigarette lighter socket will do. If you require a larger, more heavy duty air compressor, then you’ll be looking at one that hooks up to your vehicle’s battery.
How to use air compressor to inflate tires?
Before we begin our basic guideline on how to inflate your tires using an air compressor, a few items should be mentioned. PSI means pounds per square inch, and your tires will normally lose about 1 psi of air a month.
It is for this reason, that you should always include checking your tires pressure every month part of your regular vehicle maintenance check. Not only will you be able to check pressure, but if there is a slow leak you will detect it while in the garage, and not out on a desolate road.
NOTE: Your tires should also be cold before you inflate, so don’t inflate them right after a drive, or if they have been parked in the sun.
Step 1: The first step, is to purchase a tire gauge if you do not already have one and check the pressure of each tire. These are inexpensive tools and are necessary in doing a proper job. There are a variety of different gauges on the market, from basic models to expensive digital ones, but for most needs, the basic is fine.
Step 2: Now that you have checked the pressure in all of your tires, it’s time to see exactly how much air you will need. Find your vehicle’s manual, or look the specs up online, as you are looking for your specific vehicles, make/model recommended tire pressure. You are ready to begin to inflate your tires, so get your protective goggles ready. This is extremely important in the case of an accidental over inflation, which can cause you serious injury.
Step 3: Now it’s time to connect your air compressor to a power source. Remember to check your manual for the correct method. Some air pumps simply plug into your vehicles cigarette lighter socket. Other air pumps require that you attach battery clips to your vehicle’s battery and power it from there.
Step 4: Following the instructions in your manual, attach your air hose to the tire valve stem, taking care to put the valve stem cap in your pocket so it does not get lost. Switch your inflator on. Keep checking the gauge to make sure that you are inflating the tire to the recommended pressure level. Depending on your compressor model, you may be instructed to only do a reading when you pause the compressor.
Step 5: Once you reach the proper tire pressure for the make and model of your vehicle, do a final check for your standing pressure, which means you check the pressure when the compressor is off. If the standing pressure is fine, you may now turn off your air compressor. Proceed to disconnect your air compressor from your vehicle’s battery or cigarette lighter socket, as well as the tire stem, remembering to seal the stem with the valve cap.
The Final Thought (Conclusion)
Tires are something many vehicle owners seldom think about and only have their pressure looked when they take their vehicle in for a routine maintenance check, or notice that a tire may seem a little flat. In both cases, the risk of waiting until it is too late means being on the freeway with a flat, waiting for a tow truck to arrive.
These portable air pumps that we have presented today are all top of the line, fully functioning, versatile and above all, portable, so in case you do lose air while driving, you can at least give yourself a fist pump, enough to get you to a garage or home.
We truly hope you found our review of the best portable air pumps for car tires helpful, and hope you’ll join us soon for another one of our fabulous reviews of helpful products geared to helping your vehicle serve you for many trouble free years to come.