That was our top criteria for selecting the best tire inflator.
If you want cut through all the hot air, Kensun AC Tire Inflator scored high above the competition in all categories and is our top pick.
Tire Inflator Buying Guide
What is a Tire Inflator?
Tire inflators come in many different styles and are equipped with many different features. It’s always a good idea to know what you need and want the inflator to be able to do before you purchase one. Doing this will ensure that you get the inflator that will fit your preferences and needs and you won’t be wasting money.
Tires are an important part of a car’s overall performance. If they are worn or unbalanced in any way, it can affect how the car runs. Having a tire inflator eliminates the problem of the vehicle’s tires being low and causing driving issues. Now that gas stations charge for air, having a tire inflator can save you money in the long run because there are many things it can be used to put air into.
Below are some points to consider when you start researching tire inflators to purchase one for yourself. It is especially helpful to have a good quality tire inflator if you do regular work on vehicles in your garage. Having the ability and means to air up the tires on the vehicles your repair is an added benefit your customers will really appreciate.
With all of the choices of tire inflators available, it is unnecessary to spend large amounts of money to get a commercial grade tire inflator. Even if you have your own repair shop, it’s unlikely that you would have e cause to inflate all the times at the same time on several vehicles at once. You can find an excellent quality, mid-range tire inflator for under $100 and it will be more than sufficient to take care of all of your inflation needs.
Many of the tire inflators that we have shown you are powered both by 12v DC or AC v. You can power them by either plugging them into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter or by using electrical energy. The main difference between air compressors and tire inflators is the power and inflation capacity.
Tire inflators may take a bit longer to inflate tires than a regular air compressor will but the time difference is not huge. They are well worth having to avoid being stuck out somewhere with a flat tire, and to use for all your household inflation needs such as children’s toys (balls, etc) and bicycles, motorcycles, ATV tires, air mattresses, and many more items.
There are many different features that a tire inflator has that will come in handy. Many features are standard and many different models will have them, others may be additional features that you don’t usually get with a tire inflator. Decide which features are important to you when you are looking at the different models.
- Air Pressure Gauge – This will tell users what the current air pressure is inside the tires. This is important to know so the tires are not over or under filled.
- Auto Inflate – This feature allows the user to pre set the amount of air that goes into the air. Hit the button and the tire will auto inflate.
- Auto shutoff – This feature will automatically shut the inflator off when it reaches the proper tire inflation. One of the benefits to this automatic shut off is that is reduces the possibility of over-inflating the tire.
- LED work light – Not all flat tires happen during the daylight of course, so it is good to have a feature in place that can provide plenty of light if your tire goes flat at night. There is nothing scarier than being on the side of the road with a flat tire and no light source. The LED light will allow other cars and vehicles to see you on the side of the road as well as illuminate the area you will need to be working while you inflate the flat tire.
- Long power cord – Many tire inflators will have cords that range anywhere from 6-12 feet or longer. The benefit to a longer cord is that it enables the user to reach any tire on the vehicle that needs inflating.
- AC/DC compatible – Most tire inflators offer both AC and DC power sources. The DC power can be plugged into the cigarette lighter and the AC can be plugged into a regular electrical outlet. Both have benefits and having the choice of both offers convenience to the user.
- Adaptors for Inflatables – Many models of tire inflators come with adaptors that are used to inflate other objects such as air mattresses, balls, bicycle tires and more.
- Fast inflation – Tire inflators will typically take longer than a regular air compressor, but some models offer faster inflation which is related to the power the particular model has.
- Durable air hose – All tire inflators have air hoses and it’s important to ensure that the air hose that comes with the tire inflator is long and that it has a good diameter as well. Typical hose lengths will range from 2 ft. to as much as 16 ft for the heavier duty models.
- Carrying case or bag – Keep your tire inflator handy is important so no pieces are lost. Most models offer a carry bag or case of some kind to keep all the components in when you store it. Most are easily stored in the trunk or behind the driver’s seat due to their smaller size.
- Compressor – The size of the compressor correlates to how fast the tire inflator works. The higher the PSI compressor, the stronger and faster it will inflate tires. A model with a small PSI would not typically be sufficient to inflate vehicle tires but would work for sports equipment, bicycles and the like.
- Warning lights – This feature is not the same as the LED work light feature mentioned above. Some models offer warning lights that will flash which work well on the side of the road, especially in low light/visibility conditions and nighttime.
- Portability – Most tire inflators are smaller and lightweight in comparison to regular air compressors which don’t make very convenient emergency pieces of equipment. One of the reasons these units are so popular with consumers is being able to store these units in the trunk or carry them easily.
- Battery Powered – Some models are battery powered and don’t require the use of cigarette lighters or electrical power at all. The only drawback to battery powered units is that it is imperative that you make sure the battery is fully charged at all times in the event you may need it.
- Duty Cycle – The duty cycle isn’t a feature as much as it is a consideration to look at when comparing models. Duty cycle is based on percentages. A 45% duty cycle unit will operate continuously at 100 PSI at 72 degrees for 4 minutes and will require a cool down period as well. A unit that has a 100% duty cycle can work without the cool down period.
It is always important to use power equipment of any kind with caution and safety in mind. We have listed several safety tips below that will help reduce any injuries or accidents that may occur.
- Tire inflators should not be used for more than 10 minutes or so continuously. It will need to cool for at least 25 minutes in between inflation times. Failure to do so can result in the unit becoming overheated which can burn up the motor and cause it to malfunction. Tire inflators should never be allowed to run unsupervised.
- Never inflate the tires with a tire inflator while the vehicle is running. Shut the engine down completely before screwing the hose on and inflating the tire.
- Never assume or “eyeball” the tire to determine air pressure. Use a gauge and make sure you know the proper numbers for your tires. Many models of tire inflators have built in tire gauges or you can purchase a handheld one.
- Never use a tire inflator with the older, 8 amp cigarette lighters. Most current tire inflators are at least 15 amps and would not work with an 8 amp cigarette lighter.
- Never let children handle or use the tire inflator. Older teens can use it safely as long as they have been shown how, but this is not a toy that a child should have access to.
- Be sure to read all instructions and warnings before using your tire inflator. It will tell you the information you need to know about the specific unit you have.
- If there are other drivers of your vehicle, make sure that you instruct them on how to operate the tire inflator in the event they are the ones caught with a flat tire somewhere. Everyone who drives the car should know how to use this piece of equipment safely.
Tire inflators are an excellent means of ensuring that you or your loved ones are never stuck on the side of the road or stranded in a dark parking lot after work with a flat tire. By having a reliable tire inflator in the trunk you will be able to take care of business and get back on the road.
The top rated tire inflators we have reviewed here are all excellent models that perform well for customers and they have become favorites due to their reliability and performance. The buyer’s guide has provided more detailed information on the features and benefits of having a tire inflator.
With this knowledge, consumers can confidently sort through the different models and styles available and find the choice that appeals to them the most as well as the one that will fit the needs and preferences the consumer has.
Although tire inflators have more of a specific job title than air compressors, most tire inflators can also be used to inflate numerous other items as well. Having a good quality tire inflator for each of your vehicles can give you peace of mind that no matter where the drivers are, they have the means to take care of flat tires on their own in an easy and safe way.