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Hitting the right balance between price and features, the 2.65-pound Audew portable air compressor plugs directly into a vehicle’s 12V adapter. Designed to be user-friendly, a highlight of the Audew is the auto shut off functionality and one-touch activation that enables users to set the appropriate PSI for a tire, so the compressor will run until the selected level is reached. Helping to control over-inflation, this unit works for car tires, as well as other inflatables, including bike tires and more (the Audew includes an additional three connectors with different sized tips to help get the right fit). With a maximum PSI of 150 and an operating current of only 10 amps, the Audew runs at a noise level of just over 60 dBs, so it won't disturb the whole neighborhood. A nine-foot cord means there is enough line length to support both front and rear tires on cars and SUVS.
If you’re looking for a handheld tire inflator that’s versatile enough to work with home AC and car DC sockets, the Kensun AC/DC rapid performance portable air compressor is a great option. The five-pound Kensun includes an auto shut off, which should alleviate concerns of over-inflating (the LCD screen allows you to determine a preselected PSI level). The included LED lamp can point and illuminate a small area and provide better visibility during evening conditions where eyesight is decreased. When it comes to portability, the Kensun’s grab handle makes it among the easiest to carry and transport. Rated a maximum of 90 PSI, the Kensun will handle nearly every car or SUV on the road, RV and other inflatables because it comes with three different connector types.
The Viair 00088 880 portable air compressor is a suitable for all types of vehicles, but can even inflate commercial and 33-inch tires. Equipped with a 10-foot power cord and a 16-foot air hose, the Viair connects directly to a car or truck battery for power with its attached alligator clamps. The lengthy cords ensure that it can reach almost anywhere on a regular-sized truck or SUV and fill tires up to a maximum 120 PSI. Measuring PSI is handled courtesy of an analog tire gauge that accurately measures pressure within one PSI. Weighing 4.5 pounds and measuring 6.25 x 6.25 x 10.75 inches in size, the Viair is a highly portable option that’s easily stored in the back of a car, truck or SUV.
Incorporating its own smart pressure technology, the Jaco SmartPro portable tire inflator adds auto shutoff for setting a target PSI level and then pumping the tire exactly to that level. A 10-foot long power cord and 24-inch air hose make all four tires of a car, SUV or small truck accessible as power is drawn from a connection to any 12V outlet. Measuring the accuracy of inflation up to one PSI is a built-in digital air gauge that’s backlit for nighttime use and can measure up to a maximum of 100 PSI for bike tires and up to 45 PSI for auto tires. Two adapters are also included for use with sports balls, airbeds and other inflatables. A bright LED light that can double as a flashlight can also flash red and notify other drivers on the road of an emergency.
A budget option that provides plenty of features, the EPAuto portable air compressor is the inexpensive choice to beat. It plugs directly into a car’s 12V-DC cigarette lighter and the easy-to-read display includes PSI information. Navigation buttons allow for auto-selecting the appropriate PSI for tires, so the device shuts off when the desired tire pressure is reached. A maximum PSI of 100 is ideal for compact and mid-sized sedans and SUVs. Additional adapters are available for balls, inflatables and other sports equipment and a one-touch LED Torchlight can help brighten up the darkness for nights when visibility could be compromised. Weighing 2.17 pounds, the EPAuto is highly portable with a nine-foot cable for reaching all four tires from a single 12V charging point.
The small Ryobi One Plus is efficient enough to add 5 PSI to a car tire in around 40 seconds. It's optimal for tires and other small inflatables and has a PSI range of 0 to 150, thanks to an 18-volt compact lithium-plus battery that’s interchangeable with a wide range of other Ryobi cordless power tools. The pistol grip design allows for added comfort during air pumping and the easy-to-read dial gauge is easy to read and accurate for knowing when to shut off pressure. Measuring 12.8 x 7.5 x 3.7 inches in size and weighing 2.8 pounds, the Ryobi conveniently fits in a trunk or compartment for storage when not in use.
The Noox tire inflator and portable air compressor has a digital gauge that helps monitor current and suggested air pressure accuracy within one PSI. The nine-foot cord wraps around the Noox frame for easy storage, but also makes it convenient to reach any four wheels on a small or mid-sized car or motorcycle. But with up to 150 PSI available and an auto shutoff to prevent overinflation, the Noox can be used on a full-sized limousine all the way down to a volleyball, thanks to the included adapters. The triangular design is reinforced with high-quality materials that will last for years and includes an LED torch light on the exterior to help with nighttime tire repairs or replacements.
The Engrepo Electric Portable Air Compressor is small enough to neatly fit in a glove compartment, but its small stature belies its power. The unit takes about 90 minutes to charge using a 12V adapter in a vehicle, and once charged, it can inflate bicycle tires in two minutes and motorcycle tires in three minutes. With a maximum tire pressure of 150PSI, the time it takes to fill up a car tire will vary. Unfortunately, it’s compact size does have a tradeoff — it is recommended that you do not use this compressor on large SUV tires.
Set your desired pressure and the inflator will run, then automatically turn off to prevent over pressurizing. It also has an easy-to-read backlit pressure gauge so you can keep tabs on its progress even in the dark. Equipped with two different hoses, the unit has both quick-release and screw-on options. A variety of needles and nozzles come with the unit for use with a variety of tires.
Our writers spent 40 hours researching and testing the most popular portable tire inflators on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.
Type of adapter - Sure, you might need a portable tire inflator when you’re out stranded in the middle of nowhere—that’s the scenario we all fear. But what about if you’re closer to civilization? While many models can be powered off a car’s 12V adapter, you can buy tire inflators that also plug into a regular AC adapter as well. The versatility might be useful, depending on when you think you might need the device.
Maximum PSI - If you’re buying a portable tire inflator for a large truck, you may want to look into a larger model than if your vehicle is a small sports car or coupe. Differently sized vehicles have varying ideal PSIs, depending on how heavy they are, so you want to make sure you buy one that works with whatever the recommendation is for your specific vehicle.
Auto shut-off - When using a portable tire inflator, getting your tire filled with air as quickly as possible may be the only thing on your mind. However, you also need to pay attention to make sure you don’t overinflate your tire. Many models will automatically shut off when the desired PSI is reached, ensuring you don’t have to think about putting too much air into your tire.