Home Air Compressor Guide 9 Ideal Air Compressors for Inflating Tires

9 Ideal Air Compressors for Inflating Tires

Portable air compressor that specializes in inflating tires isn’t only for tire use, but its portability distinguishes it from the others on the market. None of those units are going to be inherently powerful, but they do a good job in terms of efficiency. This list won’t include any powerhouse machines seeing as a lot of them are powered through the car’s cigarette lighter and a stronger machine could blow the fuse.

Some of the units are emergency kits with built-in lights, while some come with additional adapters and are ideal for family trips and vacations. When choosing an air compressor to inflate tires don’t go for the biggest beastly machine; just choose the one that is most functional and gets the job done.

  • Kensun YS-205
  • Brand: Kensun
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 6.8 x 5.2 inches
  • Item Model Number: Kensun-AirComp-D1002
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Viair 00088 88P
  • Brand: Viair
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 6 x 7 inches
  • Item Model Number: 00088
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Viair 00073 70P
  • Brand: Viair
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 8.5 x 8 inches
  • Item Model Number: 00073
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

Kensun AC (Home 110V)/ DC (12V Car) Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator

The first option is this mid-priced multi-function inflator that operates under DC 12V or AC 110V. Even though the gauge measures up to 250 PSI, it will only ever reach 40 PSI. A nice, long 21.7-inch rubber air hose is included, and should reach just about any side of the car. The power cord is 9 foot long when using the cigarette plug and 6 foot 7 inches when using the AC plug. This Kensun model can be used to inflate tires for cars, motorcycles, bikes, scooters, trucks, SUVs, and many other. However, it’s uses are limited to tires. With the 3 included nozzle adapters it can also inflate rafts, air mattresses, basketballs, footballs, beach toys and even pool accessories. All of this weighs only 4.7 pounds in a small portable package.

There is a small warning in the documentation about the unit being stored or operated in conditions where the ambient temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so can degrade the performance of the unit, but keep in mind this is only a warning so take it as you will. Some reviewers have commented the unit’s fragility over the long-term, and how it breaks down when used repeatedly. This may be due to the weather issue mentioned above but hasn’t been confirmed. If the unit does malfunction, Kensun has one of the best customer service departments you could ask for, and should be more than happy to replace the unit. Additionally, there is also the chance that the unit will shut off before fully filling up a tire since the PSI might be off by 11 points. This is still one of the highest rated units on the market and well loved by those that have purchased.

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Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor

Another middle priced unit, the Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor, is a 12-volt max 120-PSI unit with some unique features. One odd requirement with this model is that the engine has to be running in order for the unit to work, which will turn off a lot of users, especially those that want to use it for car projects where the car isn’t functional yet. With 1.94 CFM free flow at 0 PSI, it’s extremely efficient when used in tight spots and emergencies. By using alligator clamps that hook up directly to the battery there is no need for additional power from outside sources. And although it is a letdown for some car projects, the approach is very well received for most situations that don’t have additional power options. SUVs, sedans, small ATVs, and even trucks will benefit from its power.

The LED power indicator on the front is complimented by a 9-foot power cord, 12-foot air hose, and 3-piece inflation tip kit. It’s also one of the lightest units on the list weighing less than 4.75 pounds. You run the risk of accidentally letting the air out of your tire if you don’t read the directions thoroughly. Also, the gauge is off by about 10 PSI, which can be significant when filling multiple tires. This is a pretty good pump that isn’t as noisy as others on the list, and is relatively fast in comparison. The alligator clamps are a nice touch but are a tad small, and some creativity is required to fit them on the battery. This won’t bother people who work on cars normally, but the average user will be frustrated. With some minor faults this is a great buy and comes highly recommended.

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Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor

Another Viair model on the list is the 12-volt 100-PSI 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor, which has the same requirement as the previous model to have the engine running. This is the smaller, less expensive version of the previous unit for users that just want something simple but in the same format. With 1.27 CFM free flow at 0 PSI, it’s just as capable and efficient to use on a daily basis. A nice carrying bag is included with the purchase and is of acceptable quality since its only function is to carry the unit. One big difference between the models is that rather than using the alligator clamps to power from the battery, this unit uses the cigarette lighter, which does not work as well as the previous unit. In order to check the pressure using the on-board gauge you have to turn the unit off so you can’t check it while working.

This is a little heavier than the previous unit, which is baffling since this is practically the same unit only smaller and with less features. It comes in at 5.8 pounds and is one of the heftier portable units you can buy. The power cord is 15 foot long so there is plenty of room to maneuver on any project. When it comes to noise level it is very quiet and more than likely will remain that way even after extended use. The inaccurate gauge reading from the last model applies to this one too — it’s off by about 10–11 PSI. Because of the low power, it begins to slow down past 35 PSI and is very fragile despite its weight. This is an okay unit to use, maybe perfect for motorcycles, but not good for much else.

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  • Slime 40022
  • Brand: Slime
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 8.5 x 6.5 inches
  • Item Model Number: 40022
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Goodyear i8000
  • Brand: Bon-Aire
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 7.9 x 7.4 inches
  • Item Model Number: i8000
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Slime 40026
  • Brand: Slime
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 9 x 6.5 inches
  • Item Model Number: 40026
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

Slime 40022 12-Volt Digital Tire Inflator

As a good low-priced option for buyers looking for a portable unit, the Slime 40022 12-Volt Digital Tire Inflator plugs directly into the cigarette lighter but doesn’t come with the required 15-amp fuse. This multifunctional product has a great LED light, which is handy for night or emergency use. When the desired pressure is reached for the tire, Inflate-Right technology will automatically shut the unit off. A good 12 feet of total reach will keep you from having to re-position the unit, and believe it or not this has one of the better pressure gauges on the list. Keep in mind that a fuse is required, and there is still a possibility that the unit will burn out the fuse. Also, this model is designed to be used when the car isn’t running and specifies so in the manual.

This is a loud machine, and you and everyone within a couple of miles will know that you’re using it. For rim compatibility, the valve attachment is screw-on. Considering a lot of the units offer attachments that cause problems with different cars and trucks, the screw-on variety is more widely accepted. And whereas the PSI of some of the other units on this list can be off by 10–11, the digital pressure gauge on this unit is accurate within 2 PSI. It’s significantly less powerful than the other units on the list, and slower. This is why the auto shutoff feature and accurate gauge are such blessings, since you can set it and walk away. This is a bit of a hidden gem in the industry, but is a highly recommended air compressor for inflating tires.

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Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator

Another adequately priced unit is the Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator, a 120-volt direct drive inflator that is packed with Whisper Soft technology to work hard without making too much noise. Inflation adapters are included for sporting equipment and rafts, and the entire unit plugs into any standard 120-volt outlet.  In 2 ½ minutes or less it can inflate P185/R14 from 0 to 28 PSI, making it one of the better brand-named efficient units on the list. The rubber air hose is 1 foot long and the PVC air hose with quick connect valve is 17 foot long. Power length is not a problem as the 6-foot power cord is more than enough for most uses. Goodyear is a big name that provides great warranties, and the customer service level is top notch.

The build quality of this machine is one of the best you can ask for, but for speed and extra features, this unit is no better than other cheap compressors on the market. The speed is not below average, but is won’t reach above average when in use. It’s also a lot less powerful than it should be considering how much power it draws. On the plus, the PSI is extremely accurate so you don’t have to sit around watching as it’s working. Even with the flip catch that secures it to the tire, because of how the trajectory is, its coming loose isn’t much of a hazard. It should be noted that even with Whisper Soft technology it’s still a bit on the noisy side, which is disappointing since it’s marketed as a quiet system. There are some better ones on the list, but the extra adapters and build quality moves this one higher up the list, making it a safe buy for long-term use.

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Slime 40026 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator

A brand name like Slime might make you think twice, but this mid-priced model is actually pretty good. It has a dual cylinder inflator and gets the most out of each and every inflation. In fact, it can inflate a truck tire in about 2 minutes, which is one of the top speeds on the list. This is another unit that connects directly to the battery so you get the most gusto possible, and the dial gauge that’s inline of the hose is extremely accurate, and rounds out this nice little package. It is slightly heavier than many on the list at 9 pounds total. The hose is coiled for better portability but very flexible when you need it to stretch. Don’t forget the storage case, which isn’t some cheap carry bag, but a rugged case that stands the test of time. It has a 30-foot total reach and a built-in LED light as an add-on.

As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve included a couple of air adapters to get you started. The folding handle is aluminum, and much like the case, speaks to the great craftsmanship of the product. A plus with this unit is that the car doesn’t need to be running in order to use it, so you won’t waste gas. And it’s nice to see quality alligator clamps rather than cheap clamps that could possibly damage the car battery itself. The unit can suffer from overheating issues if it’s overtaxed, so keep in mind it is an average-strength air compressor and not designed for heavy-duty use. This is not your run-of-the-mill equipment, so reading the manual is important. The unit is great and should be one of your top-5 choices when deciding from this list.

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  • LifeLine AAA 300
  • Brand: AAA
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 8 x 5.9 inches
  • Item Model Number:
  • Warranty: Manufacturers
  • Campbell Hausfeld RP3200
  • Brand: Campbell
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 5 x 6 inches
  • Item Model Number: RP3200
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty
  • Kensun YS-205
  • Brand: Kensun
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 6.8 x 5.2 inches
  • Item Model Number: Kensun-AirComp-D1002
  • Warranty: Manufacturers

LifeLine AAA 300 PSI 12 Volt DC Air Compressor

The LifeLine AAA 300 PSI 12 Volt DC Air Compressor is a very professional looking and extremely cheap air compressor for inflating tires. This is the lowest priced item on the list, and is a 12-volt 300-PSI unit with a quick-connect air hose. The power cord is 10 foot long and is powered by the cigarette lighter. They do provide 3 nozzle adapters to get you going, so there won’t be too many compatibility issues when using it. The air pressure gauge is built into the unit itself, and has average accuracy when predicting the PSI. This is one of the smallest units on the list and the housing is of low quality. Expect it to weigh no more than 2 pounds total and to take up very little space no matter where you store it.

This portable unit can inflate a standard sized tire from 0 to 35 in 8 minutes or less. This is all while only taking in 10 of the cigarette lighter’s 12 amps. The build quality is low, and you’ll notice it with the rubber in the connector that is sensitive to heat. For such a small unit it’s definitely on the noisy side so keep that in mind. The unit is best used for topping up rather than full inflation, especially with the gauge PSI being off by a bit. If using this as an emergency backup, it works great since it’s so small and easy to store. Anything beyond basic emergency needs and you’re more than likely going to be let down. This isn’t a bad air compressor for inflating tires, it just isn’t nearly as good as the others on this list as a permanent solution.

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Campbell Hausfeld RP3200 12-Volt Inflator and Worklight

The Campbell Hausfeld RP3200 12-Volt Inflator and Worklight is a bit of a mixed bag as an air compressor for inflating tires. The 12-volt 150-PSI unit is fit for emergencies, with a built-in work light that’s decent enough. Both sporting equipment and tires are easily inflated with this unit. Thanks to the 3 inflation nozzles, compatibility is very high. Included in the package is a universal adapter, cigarette lighter plug, built-in pressure gauge, and a flashing hazard light. This all comes in one complete package and a 1-year limited warranty. It’s all pretty light at 3.5 pounds, and should be favored by those that can tuck it away for later use. The price is very low, so there really isn’t too much risk to purchasing. There is an auto shut-off feature that works when it reaches your desired PSI, but it isn’t well implemented in the overall system.

And not to nitpick, but the work light seems entirely tacked on and is not as bright as an emergency light should be. The flashing hazard light is nice though, and does what it’s needed to do. The cord is a decent length at about 11 foot and the unit uses clamps rather than the screw-on system for the tires. As usual with gauges on the cheaper units, it is a bit off, and on this unit it is pretty erratic. Users can get around the often bad PSI reading by setting it higher than is actually required, but this all involves trial and error. This model is also very slow and loud, and can be a bit difficult to use for simple emergencies. It’s not necessarily a bad air compressor, but it’s firmly at the bottom of this list. Best use is for emergencies only, as anything extra would prove too taxing for the unit.

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Kensun YS-205 (Home 110V)

As the last system on the list, this mid-priced offering comes with a carrying-case for easy storage and portability. It’s strong enough to inflate tires, rafts, pool toys, and even athletic balls. The cord is a decent length at 9 foot 10 inches and the entire unit is a breeze to setup and get going. The air hose is 2 foot 7.5 inches and Kensun packaged in 3 inflation adapter nozzles to get you started. It weighs a very light 3.9 pounds, and with the convenient built-in carry handle, this is one of the best portable units to have at your disposal. Unfortunately, the connector is a screw-on type rather than a clamp, so there may be some minor quibbles there.

This is also another unit that has issues with being stored in places where the ambient temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The materials used are just not of the highest quality, so there could be some breakage issues depending on how well it is cared for. There is a limited warranty on parts, so that should take care of most people if a problem arises. Not only does the build quality suffer, but the overall mechanics of the unit are just plain slow. Some of that has to do with operating on the cigarette lighter but there are plenty of other units on this list that do a pretty good job with the same setup. This is still a great buy with a little love and care, especially with the included accessories and carrying case. If looking for a good starter package then this should be one of your first buys as you won’t be disappointed.

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Summary

In conclusion, all of the compressors on the list are in the low to mid-tier range, and won’t drain your wallet. It’s worth stating just how important these appliances are, because you never know when you’re going to have an unfortunate flat tire or leak. For the units that run off of the car battery, you do get a little more oomph from the different setup, but that doesn’t mean you should look past the ones that run on 12-volt cigarette lighters. Power isn’t the end all and be all with air compressors that inflate tires. It will always be about efficiency and how quickly it can get you out of a bind without causing a bigger headache.