Looking for the best tire inflators? We list the top 4 on the market. Ah! Flat tires, when are those going to end? Not too soon, sadly! Tire plays an integral role in the functioning of the present day vehicles. So, until such times when flying cars can become a reality, we will have to deal with flat tires.
Flat tires are such a common occurrence and something that can be anticipated well before it happens, but who has the time to check their tire pressure every day, right? Having a portable tire inflator, hence, provides the best solution. You can carry it with you everywhere you go without the fear of being stranded alone in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire.
Table of Contents
Best tire inflator reviews
Best bang for the buck
Ontel Air Hawk Pro Automatic Cordless Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor, Easy to Read Digital Pressure Gauge, Built In LED Light
Viair 45043 Automatic Function Portable Compressor
TireTek TT-303 RX-i Digital Car Tire Inflator Pump-12v Portable Air Compressor with Auto Shut Off
JACO SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator Pump - Premium 12V Portable Air Compressor - 100 PSI
The ONTEL Air Hawk Cordless Tire Inflator is hands-down one of the best tire inflator that I tested. This product is an excellent package in terms of functionality, its lightweight capability, and its excellent pricing as well.
There are so few air compressor products available in the market that offers such high-end practicality features at such a significantly lower price point.
The 1800 mAh rechargeable lithium battery allows the ONTEL Air Hawk tire inflator to pump up your car/ motorcycle tires without the need of any power source in case of emergency situations.
The LCD display at the rear end allows the user to read the level of inflation clearly.
The LCD display also allows the user to pre-set the level of PSI and automatically switches off by itself.
The heat-protection feature protects the inflator from getting too hot in case of excess use.
The LED light feature allows the use of ONTEL Air Hawk inflator at low light conditions or at night.
It comes with all standard set accessories.
The main highlight of the ONTEL Air Hawk cordless tire inflator is its 1800 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Most of the tire compressor products require an external power source in order to function properly. While this is not a problem for most people as all present cars come with a 12v supply, however, having a cordless tire inflator provides a much better and more convenient solution. It can also go a long way to save your car’s battery consumption for other important things during an emergency as well.
There are ample of things that I liked about the ONTEL Air Hawk cordless tire inflator.
First, the product is extremely lightweight weighing only about 4.07 pounds or 1.85 kg. If you compare this to any other “portable” tire inflators, you will automatically notice the difference. You can easily hold the inflator with a single hand without feeling like you’re holding a set of a dumbbell.
Secondly, even with its fairly medium price tag, the product comes with all the standard accessories set. The set includes a 12v power base, a Presta valve adapter, air hoses (2 different sizes), power adapter, a plastic wide and steel pin tip, battery pack, storage bag, car charger, and a Dunlop valve.
Thirdly, for a cordless tire adapter that runs on a lithium-ion battery, the ONTEL Air Hawk tire inflator executes its job with minimal time requirement. It can fully inflate a 14″ tire in just about 6 minutes.
Lastly, the LED emergency light is a very convenient addition to the product. It may appear as a puny feature, but it does provide a much better solution for changing the tire at the low light condition. The LCD display is also located at a convenient location and provides a clear display as well.
As much as the product has a multitude of features that I liked, there are some shortcomings.
Firstly, if you own a truck or any vehicle that can be considered as above average, the ONTEL Air Hawk tire inflator is not for you, as it cannot be used on trucks
Secondly, the product cannot be used continuously for more than 15 minutes
Thirdly, as it runs on rechargeable battery, you will need to keep it charged at all times after use which may not always be convenient.
The VIAIR 45043 air compressor is no doubt one of the best portable air pumps for tires. However, it’s pricing falls under premium air compressor category. It has all the high-end features that you would expect from a top quality tire inflator. So, if you can afford to spend some extra bucks with minimal hesitation, you should certainly opt to purchase this product. You do not make any compromises in terms of features and performance with this portable air compressor.
The VIAIR 450p offers a heavy-duty performance. It can be used for inflating any tire size up to 42.”
It is suitable for both off-road and on-road vehicles
Its automatic tire filling feature works seamlessly and effortlessly. It only operates when the trigger is pulled.
The VIAIR 450P is the only air compressor product that performs at optimal efficiency (100%) at 100PSI.
The inflation gun provided on the compressor extremely is easy to use, and it works as a pressure gauge as well.
The automatic pressure regulation of the air compressor is designed to maintain 145PSI pressure in its internal tank by cycling power to the motor
It can inflate a 31” tire from 0-30 PSI in just under 4.05 minutes.
The primary highlight of the VIAIR 450P would be its extremely efficient duty cycle capability of performing at 100% at 150 PSI. Most of the average portable air compressors have 25% at 100PSI duty cycle, which means they can not/ should not be used continuously for more than 10 minutes, and should be rested for about 30 minutes.
But, in the case of VIAIR 450P air compressor, due to its 100% duty cycle, the time for the operation is much higher, and the time required for pumping up the tire is significantly lesser as well.
The VIAIR automatic portable air compressor gave me adequate reasons to like what it offered despite its price tag.
Firstly, the VIAIR 450P is compatible with almost all tire sizes (up to 42”). So you don’t have to worry about those large truck tires. It is also suitable for both on-road and off-road tires, so in terms of compatibility, the VIAIR 450P ticks all the boxes.
Secondly, the 100% duty cycle at 1OOPSI just cannot be ignored. It adds significant time duration for continuous use up to 150P without any rest. This allows it to inflate multiple tires at once without having to turn off (rest) the air compressor in between.
Thirdly, the automatic turn-off feature provides a superior power-saving and a much more efficient working mechanism. It automatically senses the inactivity time duration of the compressor even if it is turned ON and powers down to save power consumption and its active working duration cycle as well.
Fourthly, the time required for filling the tires of different sizes is extremely quick. For a 31”x 10.5” tire, the unit takes only about 4.05 minutes to inflate it from 0-30 PSI, and for 15-30PSI it only takes 2.10 min. For a 37”x 12.5” tire, it takes about 7.56 min. for 0-30 PSI and 4.09 min. for 15-30 PSI.
Lastly, the addition of gas-station-style inflation gun provides a much needed easy control for the inflation process. All you need is to squeeze the handle to start pumping air into the tire. It also works as a pressure gauge to monitor the tire’s PSI as you inflate it.
The VIAIR 450P’s weight is more on the heavy side, with a total weight of 12.73 pounds (5.7kg). So, its portability factor is somewhat limited
Even though it comes with all the optimal functionality features, its pricing may still be out-of-reach for most average people.
There is no mechanism to keep the inflation gun in the squeezed (ON) position, so you have to keep squeezing it manually
Compatible with tire size up to 42.”
Performs at 100% duty cycle @145PSI
Automatic turn-off mechanism
Quick inflation time
Easy-to-use inflation gun with a built-inpressure gauge
The TireTek RX-i is on this list particularly for those people who are on a tight budget. The TireTek RX- i is the lowest priced and one of the best air compressors for tires at its price segment. With such a low price tag, it does what it’s supposed to do with minimal inconveniences. Yes, it does not come with all the fancy features that you would expect from a high-end compressor, but its performance justifies its budget pricing.
Its output of 30LPM can inflate an average-sized car tire within 3 minutes.
The built quality is of reinforced nylon construction which provides excellent impact resistance and also minimizes heat output
The extra-long 11 ½ feet extension hose can reach/ extend up to 22 ft for convenient usage
The LCD display provides a clear and bold pressure display in KPA, KG/cm, BAR or PSI units.
The rubberized feet promotes superior stability and also reduces noise output by a significant amount.
The storage case comes with all the standard set accessories like the narrow and wide adapter, ball pin and Presta valve adapter, a spare 15A fuse, and an 11 ½ extension hose
The automatic shut-off mechanism powers down the unit after the desired PSI level is achieved
The locking chuck or screwing connection mechanism provides a more secure connection
Despite its budget price segment, the TireTek RX-i provides a more practical solution than most of the higher-end air compressor products. Minute details such as using the screw on valve provide a more secure and traditional approach. What impressed me the most though, was its inflating time. It may not be quickest, but for the limited bucks that you invest on it, it delivers and fills up your tires at a much lesser time than you would expect.
Firstly, the price to performance ratio on the unit is excellent. You get more than what you pay for at its budget pricing.
Secondly, the built quality is sturdy and convincingly durable. The plastics do not feel cheap, and it can withstand some falls with exceptional resistance. The noise-canceling feature also works decently.
Thirdly, the 30 LPM output on the unit is fairly quick and can inflate an average car tire within a decent time. As long as you don’t use it on a heavy-duty vehicle, you will not face any problem.
Fourthly, the 11 ½ feet hose extension is an extremely useful and convenient addition to the unit. It extends up to 22” which is more than sufficient for any type of emergency situations.
Both the LED and the LCD display on the TireTek RX-i are more prominent than most air compressors, which provide clear pressure level indication and also secondary lighting for low-light conditions.
The pressure gauge on the unit seems to show inaccurate pressure levels by a factor of 2-5 PSI, and even more than that in some cases.
Even though the product description claims to be suitable for all tire sizes (trucks as well), usage on larger tires heats up the unit or under-inflates the tire.
The JACO smartPro 2.0 inflator may be the last product on the list, but it is definitely not the last impressive unit at any means. If anything, it’s adverse of it. The SmartPro 2.0 finds its spot due to its ease of use and overall a very practical air compressor.
The JACO SmartPro is compatible with both AC and DC power source, which is a first in its class feature.
The unit can work continuously for a significantly longer duration than its other competitors.
The 30LPM output is quick and inflates an average car tire in under 3 minutes
It is suitable for use on standard car tires, SUV and Truck tires as well.
The Smartpressure technology allows you to preset the value of PSI and automatically shuts off when it is achieved.
The LCD display features a bright blue display to enable viewing the parameters even at night.
The LED light works as a flashlight and SOS functionality as well.
The JACO SmartPro 2.0’s capability to work with both AC and DC power supply makes it a standout feature from all the other air compressors in the market. You can plug it into an AC power supply socket if you are inflating the tire in your house garage or use your car’s 12V supply if you are out on the road. All you need is to switch between the AC And DC supply mode from the control switch.
The JACO 2.0 air compressor’s extreme ease-of-use process is the most impressive feature that I liked. It takes minimal effort, and the need to keep the inflation gun squeezed in order to pump air is eliminated. The compressor works with a simple witch ON/OFF functionality.
Secondly, the whole unit is lightweight as compared to other air compressors in its segment. The product also features a convenient handle-like construction to enable quick and easy handling while using it.
Thirdly, the function of using a twist-connect nozzle is a much-welcomed feature. It provides a more secure connection, and you don’t have to babysit the tire while the compressor inflates it as well.
Fourthly, the dual functionality of using either DC or AC power supply is extremely easy. You only need to turn ON one of them using a switch mechanism that is provided, and plug it into the suitable power source.
The 30 LPM output may not be the quickest, but it executes its job at a convincing time. The JACO 2.0 air compressor can also run continuously for a good time compared to other similar products. It can run at 80PSI for 20 min. and at 35PSI for 30 min.
The digital pressure gauge performs inconsistently, and it mostly shows inaccurate pressure reading by a factor of about 3 lbs.
Secondly, the AC power function doesn’t work as smoothly as the DC power source, so you may have to depend primarily on the DC source.
Twist-connect nozzle design
Simple ON/ OFF switch system for inflation
Fast air filling
Inconsistent pressure reading
Average AC power supply performance
Buying Guide for Tire Inflator
Before you jump to buy the first product that claims to fill up your flat tire, you need to take a moment to consider some important features. Considering all the necessary features allows you to make a smart purchase and buy the best tire inflator possible. A wrong air compressor product only contributes to your frustration.
The maximum pressure level
The maximum pressure is the optimal level up to which the compressor can operate at. So, the more the pressure level, the better the product will perform. This is especially true if you’re looking to buy an air compressor for a large vehicle (SUV or Trucks)
The Duty Cycle
The duty cycle of the air compressor determines how long you can operate it continuously without shutting it down in between. The more the duty cycle percentage, the more “active usage duration” the air compressor will give. So, look for compressors with a high percentage of the duty cycle.
As long as you don’t mind keeping a watch over the entire process of inflating the tire, it is always best to consider buying a compressor that comes with an automatic shut-off feature. You can pre-set the PSI level, and the inflator will automatically shut down after the required level is achieved.
Portability and lightweight
Since the point of buying an external tire, inflator is to carry it around with on your trips for emergency purposes; it is important for the product to be as much lightweight and portable as well. A bulky tire inflator may not always be convenient.
Make sure to check the inflation time that the product claims to achieve. Usually, the inflation time differs as per different tire sizes, so make sure you know your car’s tire size to make an accurate assumption while looking for the tire inflator as well.
There are ample of choices when it comes to tire inflator products, so you will not have any problem finding the right product at your price-point. Just make sure you don’t buy a cheap product or end up paying too much for an average product
Do I need to keep the engine running while using an air compressor?
Yes, for optimal performance, you should keep your engine running as the compressor needs power from your car’s 12V cigarette socket.
Can I use the air compressor from an AC source?
NO, except for some specific products that support AC supply power input, you should NOT connect it to an AC wall power outlet.
Is it normal for tire inflators to become hot?
Yes, in most cases if you use it continuously for a prolonged duration, some amount of heat output is normal. But, always shut it down after the prescribed given time to avoid any critical damage.
How noisy is a tire inflator?
Normally, the noise of the compressor is identical or a little louder than a car at an idle state (varies with different products)
Based on all the products that I have reviewed and listed I would say that the VIAIR 450P is the best portable air pump for tires. It offers all the best-in-class features, and the 100% Duty Cycle adds so much additional convenience. However, everybody may not get-on-board with its above-average price tag.
In such a case, the ONTEL Air Hawk cordless tire inflator provides a cheaper solution. It is one of the best air compressors for tires that comes with almost all the required features without burning a hole in your pocket.