6 Best Tire Inflators – (Reviews & Buying Guide 2020)

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If you own a car we bet you dread having to deal with a punctured tire. A flat tire can cause a lot of hassles such as being late for an event or meeting. That’s why you need the best tire inflator on the market to solve your problems.

Robert Hooke built the first effective air pump in England in 1658 for scientific purposes. Since then there have been many technological advances to the inflator to accommodate all sorts of tires for cars, bicycles and trucks.

In the modern world, you can have your pick of many tire inflator products. So how do you know which one to buy? We’re here to assist you because today we’re giving you six tire inflator reviews to help you find the best one for your requirements.

After you’ve read through the reviews take a look at our buyer’s guide to help you with your purchase decision.

Best Tire Inflators Comparison Chart

PRODUCT DETAILS
EPAUTO 12V DC Portable Digital Tire Inflator

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Digital Tire Inflator

  • Price : $$
  • Volts/Watts: 180W
  • Power Source : Car battery powered
  • Working PSI : 70 PSI
  • Pressure Gauge : Digital
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Helteko Portable 150PSI 12V Digital Tire Inflator

Helteko Portable Air Compressor Pump 150PSI 12V

  • Price : $$
  • Volts/Watts: 120W
  • Power Source : Car battery powered
  • Working PSI : 150 PSI
  • Pressure Gauge : Digital
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Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump for Car 12V DC

Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump

  • Price : $$$
  • Volts/Watts: 120W
  • Power Source : Car and electrical powered
  • Working PSI : 100 PSI
  • Pressure Gauge : Analog
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FORTEM Digital Tire Inflator for Car

FORTEM Digital Tire Inflator

  • Price : $$
  • Volts/Watts: 120W
  • Power Source : Car battery powered
  • Working PSI : 150 PSI
  • Pressure Gauge : Digital
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EPAUTO Heavy Duty 120 PSI Tire Inflator Gauge

EPAuto Heavy Duty 120 PSI Tire Inflator Gauge

  • Price : $
  • Volts/Watts: N/A
  • Power Source : N/A
  • Working PSI : 120 PSI
  • Pressure Gauge : Analog
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Avid Powe 20V Cordless Tire Inflator

Avid Power Cordless Tire Inflator

  • Price : $$$
  • Volts/Watts: 20V
  • Power Source : Battery powered
  • Working PSI : 100 PSI
  • Pressure Gauge : Digital
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Best Tire Inflator Reviews – Editor’s Choice

1. EPAuto DC Portable Digital Tire Inflator

EPAUTO 12V DC Portable Digital Tire InflatorThe EPAuto tire inflator is a convenient multipurpose device. It can inflate basketballs as well as any sized tires on cars, SUVs and bikes. It’s a 10 to 15 amp tire inflator with 180W which makes it powerful enough to inflate standard car tires as well as large SUV wheels.

This tire inflator is compact and lightweight so it will fit perfectly in the trunk of your car without taking up too much space. The portable air compressor has a 12V DC plug that fits directly into the cigarette lighter socket in your car.

It’s quite a fast working inflator because it has a speed of 1.06CFM. The EPAuto inflator has a working PSI of 70 and a digital pressure gauge that gives you accurate readings. It’s possible to even use this device at night because of the LED backlight it comes with.

2. Helteko Portable Air Compressor Pump

Helteko Portable 150PSI 12V Digital Tire InflatorThe Helteko pump is a compact device that’s lightweight and portable. It doesn’t come with a handle but it isn’t heavy so you’re able to carry it easily. This is a multipurpose air compressor that can be used to inflate tires on dirt bikes, bicycles and standard cars.

This tire inflator has a 12V power source and a working PSI of 150. The digital display unit will show you the PSI pressure reading, KPA, BAR and KG of your tires. It works at high speeds with a flow rate of 35L per minute.

You’ll love that this tire inflator has an extra long cable length of 11.35ft and it comes with three additional nozzles & a carry bag for storage. It’s a digital device and you will see the display clearly in low light conditions because it’s backlit with LEDs.

This tire inflator can work continuously for up to 10 minutes and will shut off automatically when it’s not in use. The auto shut off is an extra safety feature so you don’t over inflate your tires.

3. Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump

Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump for Car 12V DCYou’ll love the fact that the Kensun air compressor is an AC and DC unit. Use the unit at home for your power tools or pump up any sized tires on cars, bikes and vans.

This tire inflator is lightweight and compact so you can travel with it inside your car. It has a handle so you can carry it around easily. To power up the unit when you’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, simply plug the 12V plug into your cigarette lighter outlet.

The tire inflator has an analog gauge that gives you your PSI, BAR and KPA readings. It measures up to 100 PSI so it’s suitable for standard cars with a typical PSI of 30 and 35. This device is fast working and will pump up your tire in less than a minute.

This tire inflator is incredibly durable and can withstand almost any weather conditions.

4. FORTEM Digital Tire Inflator

FORTEM Digital Tire Inflator for CarIf you want a user friendly tire inflator then perhaps the FORTEM device will be ideal for you. It’s a durable, compact device that you can store inside the trunk of your car. It’s also a multipurpose tire inflator that comes with various nozzles to inflate different types of wheels. Inflate wheels on bicycles, motorbikes, standard cars and even basketballs.

All you have to do to power the tire inflator is plug the 12V DC adaptor into a cigarette lighter outlet. It produces 120W of power with a maximum current of 10 amps.

The maximum pressure is 150 PSI and it shows the readings on a digital display. It comes with other convenient features you’ll love such as a bright LED flashlight and a testing pressure feature.

The hose length is a bit on the short side with only 9.8ft of length. But it’s a fast working unit that will inflate your tire in less than a minute.

5. EPAuto Heavy Duty Tire Inflator Gauge

EPAUTO Heavy Duty 120 PSI Tire Inflator GaugeHere’s another EPAuto product on our list. This is a tire inflator gauge that will give you accurate readings of what tire pressure your wheel has.

The device fits perfectly in your glove compartment and it can be used to check the pressure on your car tires, as well as bike tires.

The inflator gauge has a plastic analog display that goes up to 120PSI. It has four measure units of PSI, BAR, KGF and KPA. The hose is short but the device is a handheld that’s used to measure tire pressure so there’s no need for an extra long pipe.

This tire inflator gun can be used to pump up your tires too if you connect it to a tank. It has a non slip grip handle with a trigger that gives you full control of how much air you want to release into the tire. The nozzle will fit well over any tire stem valve.

6. Avid Power Cordless Tire Inflator

Avid Powe 20V Cordless Tire InflatorThe Avid Power inflator is a small lightweight device that comes with many convenient accessories. It comes with a carry case, three different types of nozzles and a plug-in AC adapter.

This is a cordless device so it’s portable and works off of a rechargeable battery. It’s suitable for inflating tires on cars, motorbikes, bicycles and various types of bouncing balls. The device can also be used to inflate blow-up swimming pools and boats.

The unit has a 12V ion battery and a charger. It has a digital LCD display with a working PSI of 100. The hose is short but the unit is light so it’s easy to carry around your car to pump up each tire. It’s a fast working inflator that will pump up one tire within three minutes.

This tire inflator has an auto shut off feature that will turn the device off as soon as the tire is filled with the correct pressure. It also has bright LED lights so you can work with the inflator at night.

What is a Tire Inflator?

A tire inflator is an air compressor that pushes air into tires to pump them up. Inside the inflator is pressurized gas that releases bursts of air into your tire to inflate it quickly. These devices eliminate the need to pump your tires manually which can be incredibly strenuous and time-consuming.

There are various types of tire inflators for all types of tasks. Some are designed for standard cars and then there are larger units built for bigger vehicles such as trucks.

The advantage of a tire inflator is that you can get handheld portable devices that fit into your car’s boot, so you’ll have it on hand whenever there’s a problem with your car. There will be no need to call for help. The smaller inflators are incredibly convenient because they are easy to store and they get the job done fast.

Tire inflators can either be electrical, gas-powered or battery operated. There’s a gauge on a tire inflator that indicates tire pressure. These gauges either show on a digital display or a device with numbers and needle.

best tire inflators

Tire Inflator Buying Guide

As mentioned before there are many variations of tire inflators on the market. To help you with your purchase decision we’ve constructed a buyer’s guide to assist you. In this buyer’s guide, you’ll find considerations, features and specifications to look for before you purchase a tire inflator.

It’s important to read through this section carefully so you know which product would be best suited for your requirements.

7 Considerations When Buying a Tire Inflator

There are considerations of a tire inflator that you must think about before you purchase your device. This will help you find a high-quality tire inflator that is convenient, long-lasting and will inflate your tires fast. Take a look at the following seven tire inflator considerations.

  1. Does it Have an Air Pressure Gauge?

    A quality tire inflator will have an integrated air pressure gauge. The gauge ensures that you are using the correct amount of pressure when inflating your tire. It’s important to use the correct amount of pressure because you don’t want to under or over inflate your tire. If you do, it can cause wear over time.

  2. Is it AC/DC Compatible?

    When purchasing a tire inflator ensure that the device is compatible with both AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current). This makes it easier to pump up your tires no matter where you are.

  3. Does it Have an Auto-Inflate Feature?

    As mentioned before, pumping up your tires manually can be time consuming and it can put a lot of strain on you physically. When you’re on a time sensitive schedule pumping up your tires manually will compromise plans for the day. That’s why it’s necessary that your device has an auto-inflator feature.

    An auto inflate device will make the process quick and hassle free. All you have to do is enter the amount of air you want pumped into your tire and let the inflator do the work for you.

  4. What’s the Size of the Inflator?

    Before you purchase your tire inflator check the dimensions and weight of the unit. You want a device that’s easy to carry and compact enough to fit into your car so you can have it with you when you travel.

    Compact and portable tire inflators typically weigh around 2.4lbs & measure 9.6″ x 6.2 ” x 3.1″. If you opt for a device that’s slightly heavier than 2.4lbs it shouldn’t be too difficult to lift and carry. But if you opt for a bigger size tire inflator make sure it doesn’t take up too much space in the trunk of your car.

  5. Does it Come with a Handle?

    Besides the weight and dimensions of your tire inflator, how easy is it to carry? Make sure that you purchase a device that has a non slip grip handle so you can easily lift and carry the unit.

  6. Does it have an LED Work Light?

    An LED work light is to assist you in low light conditions. It can either give you an indication that your tire has been fully inflated or used to signal other drivers on the road for emergencies.
    The LED light is a feature that you must have because it helps you in emergency situations and stops you from over inflating your tire. It’s an additional safety feature that you shouldn’t compromise on.

  7. Is it a Multipurpose Inflator?

    Some tire inflators can only pump up wheels on a bicycle. That’s why you should consider a device that can inflate any size tire on cars, SUVs, trucks and motorbikes. Tire inflators can be used to pump up inflatable swimming pools, boats and sports balls provided it has the correct nozzles. So pick an inflator that allows you to connect multiple size nozzles so you can inflate any blow up products.
    There are also several inflators on the market that’s used to operate power tools such as spray paint guns and nail guns. Therefore if you want a tire inflator that can handle all these tasks, purchase one that’s versatile.

tire inflator buyers guide

5 of the Most Important Tire Inflator Features and Specifications

In this next section, we’re going to be discussing the most important features and specifications of a tire inflator. These five features and specs will help you select a quality tire inflator that has a long service life & will make pumping up tires a breeze.

  1. Inflation Speed

    If you have a punctured tire and you’re stuck on the side of the road you want to be able to get up & running again as soon as possible. This is especially true if you’re stuck in a high crime area.

    Opt for a tire inflator that will pump up your tires fast no matter what size vehicle you drive. Your tire inflator must have the ability to pump up your tire in less than two and a half minutes.

  2. Power Source

    The power source of your air inflator will determine where and when you can use it. There are three types of power sources to pick from: The electric, gas and battery powered tire inflator.

    The electric tire inflator will need to be plugged into an electrical power source to work. It will come with a cable to allow you to plug the unit in. The downside to these inflators is that they’re not portable so you can’t use them when you’re stuck on the side of the road.

    A gas tire inflator is an ideal choice if you don’t have access to an electric power source. These units work the same way as an electric-powered unit but they don’t have a start and stop regulator. They will have valves in the tank that open and close to regulate the pressure inside the tank.

    The battery powered tire inflator will have its own integrated battery that will power the unit. Or you can use two clips to connect it to your car battery to operate the device. These tire inflators are much more convenient because they’re portable. The battery powered tire inflator also allows you to pump up your tires no matter where you are.

  3. Hose Length

    The hose lengths on tire inflators can vary. You must select a tire inflator that will accommodate the size of your vehicle. For example, if you have an RV you’ll need a tire inflator with a hose that’s at least 100ft in length to reach around the vehicle.

    If you have a standard-sized car then a hose that’s between 60ft and 70ft should work well for you. You won’t need to move your tire inflator around too much if you have one with a longer hose length. The hose will reach around your car without you having to carry the inflator around while you work.

  4. Compressor Strength

    The tire inflator compressor strength will determine how much pressure it provides when pumping your tires.
    Tires on standard cars will typically run between 30 to 35 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) but some vehicles will have 40 PSI. Larger vehicles such as RVs or trucks will have 80 to 90 PSI. Check your tires’ specs before purchasing your unit because you’ll require an inflator that can handle pressures at those levels.

  5. User Friendliness

    A complicated tire inflator will be difficult to use and add to your frustration. The extra features that make it user friendly is a grip handle to carry the device and switches to turn it on & off. A digital gauge is also considered user friendly because it shows your PSI at a glance in any lighting conditions.

    Select a tire inflator that’s easy to operate and comes with all the features you need to pump up your tires fast.

tire inflator features & specifications

Analog vs. Digital Tire Inflator

Tire inflators either have an analog or digital pressure reading display.

The analog reading is a scale with a needle and will typically work on gas or battery powered units. Some people prefer analog readings because they believe it’s more accurate. If you purchase a cheap tire inflator you won’t get accurate readings so it’s important to buy a quality unit.

A tire inflator with a digital display will show you the pressure reading with numbers that light up. The advantage of a digital tire inflator is that you can use them at night because they have backlights that will illuminate the numbers.

Your tire inflator must either have an analog or digital reader to ensure you’re not over inflating your tires.

Tire Inflators or Air Compressors: What’s the Difference?

  • Air Compressor

    An air compressor is a large device that pumps air into tires using pistons to produce pressure. These units have tanks and run AC directly from a wall outlet. Air compressors come in various shapes and sizes & they’re versatile because they’re used to power the following tools around the house:

    • Nail gun
    • Paint guns
    • Blast air to clean dirt out of crevices

    An air compressor is heavier and they’re not compact. Since they need an electrical outlet to operate they’re not portable. But they do work fast and are extremely durable.

  • Tire Inflator

    The tire inflator is designed to pump up tires on cars, RVs and trucks. These units are smaller and more compact than air compressors. Tire inflators typically come with specialized features such as the following:

    • USB ports
    • LED flashlights
    • Emergency signals

    A tire inflator is a portable device that can fit into the trunk of your car and they’re either DC or AC powered. These units are ideal for emergency situations when you’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire.

    Since the tire inflator is a small compact unit some of the units will come with a carry case. Some tire inflators are versatile because they have ports to charge your phone and other devices can jump start your car.

    The tire inflator is an excellent choice if you want an all in one device that you can take with you anywhere.

tire inflator reviews

Why Is Tire Pressure Important?

Maintaining your tire pressure is important because it can decrease the risk of a flat wheel or a blowout.

Also, for proper car handling your tire pressure must be at the correct inflation level. If your tire is deflated it can cause serious tread wear on your wheels. Tires that are over inflated will reduce your level of vehicle handling and performance because less rubber will be in contact with the road. This may result in aquaplaning when driving through water or sliding on the tar when you brake.

These reasons prove why it’s extremely important that you purchase a tire inflator with the best tire pressure gauge. The gauge will ensure that you maintain proper tire pressure and that you don’t over or under inflate your tires.

How Much Does Tire Pressure Affect Gas Mileage?

If your tires aren’t inflated correctly it can increase rolling resistance which is the friction when the tires are moving. Increased rolling resistance requires more energy, therefore, it will use additional fuel to operate the vehicle. Tires that are inflated correctly can improve fuel economy by 3.2%.

Remember though that tire pressure isn’t the only factor that improves fuel economy. The correct oil and filters will also improve the performance of your vehicle. Take a look at our oil filter reviews to find the best one for your car.

How do I know the recommended PSI for My Tires?

You’ll find the recommended PSI for your tires on a sticker located on the doorjamb. It will also stipulate your vehicle’s PSI in your owner’s manual. Other places you can find the recommended PSI for your tires are the following:

  • Sticker on the lid of your trunk
  • On the fuel door
  • Inside the console

The recommended PSI for standard vehicles is between 30 and 35.

What Determines the Vehicle Manufacturer’s Pound per Square Inch (PSI) Recommendation?

There are many factors that determine a tire’s recommended PSI. It all depends on how big the tire is and how thick the sidewalls are.

The manufacturers recommend PSI based on the load capacity of your tires. For example, a 12R24.5 sized tire with a single load capacity of 7830lbs will have a PSI of 120.

But the main way to determine PSI is altitude and temperature. Atmospheric pressure will depend on the altitude you are at. The higher you are from sea level the smaller the pressure will be. If you’re closer to sea level the pressure will be higher.

With temperature, if it’s colder the pressure in your tires will decrease which will lead to a lower value. The warmer the climate is the pressure inside the tires will expand giving a higher reading.

Tire Maintenance

For you to maintain your tires correctly you’ll need to know when to check the pressure and how to inflate your tires. You’ll also need the correct tools such as a jack. Choosing a floor jack is easy if you’re well informed. Check out our article to find one that works for you.

Your floor jack will help you change old tires or ones that have been punctured. Talking about old tires, remember that wheels come with an expiration date that you must adhere to. The expiration date is shown on the sides of your tire and should be changed before or on the expiry date.

Another indication that your tires need to be replaced is when you see worn tread patterns. You want your tires to have an excellent grip on the road so replace your tires if you notice they’re worn.

To assist you further with correct tire maintenance take a look at the following tips.

How Often Should You Check Tire Pressure?

For most drivers, your tires lose one PSI every month. It’s advised to check your tires every end of the month to ensure they are always inflated to the correct pressure.

The best time to check your tire pressure is an hour after you’ve driven and when it’s cooler such as at night or early in the morning. It won’t give you an accurate reading when temperatures are high because the pressure in the tires expands when it’s hot, which results in a higher PSI reading.

How to Properly Check Your Tire Pressure

It should be noted that your front and rear tires may require different pressures. Check your owner’s manual for the correct PSI recommendations for your front and back tires.

To check your tire pressure, do the following:

  • Remove the black valve stem cap on the wheel.
  • Insert the air pressure gauge into the valve stem to record your reading.
  • Once you have your reading place the valve stem cap back onto your tire.

How to Properly Inflate your Tires

how to inflate tires with tire inflator

If your tire is under inflated you’ll need a high quality tire inflator to pump it with air. To pump up your tire, follow these easy steps:

  • Remove the valve cap and insert the tire inflator hose onto the stem.
  • Ensure that the hose is placed tightly on the valve or the air won’t go into the tire.
  • There’s a release trigger that allows you to control the bursts of air going into the tire. Push down on the release trigger until your tire is at the correct PSI. You’ll see the PSI reading on the tire inflator gauge.
  • When the tire is inflated, remove the hose and place the valve cap back onto the stem.

Tire Inflation Tips

  1. Flat Tires

    If you have a flat tire and you don’t have a portable inflator, you may have to remove the wheel & replace it with a spare one. Make sure you have the correct tools with you at all times for tire changes such as a torque wrench. Look at our torque wrench buying guide to help you find the best one.

  2. When to Check Your Tires

    You must always check your tire pressure when it’s cool so the best time to inspect them would be at night or early in the morning. Use your air pressure gauge to give you an accurate reading because eyeballing it will result in over or under inflation.

  3. Correct Tire Inflator

    Use the correct tire inflator to pump up your tires to the recommended PSI that the owner’s manual stipulates. The hose must fit correctly over the tire valve so that the air can go directly into the wheel.

  4. How to Release Air

    If you want to maintain the correct tire pressure you must either add or release air. There are extra features on some tire inflators that allow you to release the exact amount of air out of the wheel. Check for a small metal peg on the opposite end of the gauge attachment. This peg is used to release the air out of your tires. But if the tire inflator doesn’t have the metal peg you can use a pen or a nail to push into the valve to release air.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

  • Q: Should your vehicle be on when you’re inflating your tires?
    A: No, it’s highly dangerous to have your car on when you’re inflating your tires. Ensure your car engine is off and your car is parked in neutral before pumping your tires with an inflator.
  • Q: Do all tire inflators come with flashlights?
    A: No, not all tire inflators come with flashlights. Make sure you purchase a tire inflator with all the features you want such as a flashlight, SOS signaling and USB ports. These USB ports will charge phones and other mobile devices but units with these outlets are typically battery powered.
    Make sure that if you purchase a battery operated unit that it charges quickly and comes with an adapter to plug into an AC power source.
  • Q: Is it difficult to use a tire inflator?
    A: Tire inflators are extremely user friendly so you can pump your tires quickly without any hassles. Simply ensure you buy a tire inflator with all the features and specifications you want so that it’s even more convenient to use.

Check our homepage to see if you’ve missed anything important for your car.

Wrap Up

We hope our tire inflator reviews helped you pick the best one for your requirements. If you’re still unsure, read through the buyer’s guide section carefully to see which specs and features are the most important when selecting a tire inflator.

The best tire inflator will come with all the features you need for tire maintenance so you can optimize vehicle handling. Ensure that the unit you buy fits perfectly in the trunk of your car and it has a long hose so you can reach around your vehicle easily.

What’s more, the tire inflator must work quickly for safety reasons because you shouldn’t have the unit turned on for more than 10 minutes. A premium tire inflator will pump up your tire in less than a minute. So use our guide to help you find a tire inflator that will work for you.