Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2023, Tested

best tire inflators air compressors

Michael SimariAuto and Driver

Research “portable tire inflators and air compressors” on-line and you are going to find dozens, if not hundreds, of gadgets that assert to be the “ideal” at inflating auto tires. We’re below to reduce through that litter.

In order to obtain the truth, we rounded up a truckload of prime sellers and renowned manufacturers and pitted them against one particular another in our tests garage, to determine which tire inflator was really “the greatest.”

Our Prime Picks

How did we decide on our contenders? Initially, we polled Motor vehicle and Driver, Autoweek, and Street & Keep track of editorial staffs for the inflators our gurus advisable. Then, we perused the web to come across out which inflators have been the most preferred, the best sellers, and the greatest rated. Soon after that, we leaned into our skills and automotive know-how to whittle the record down to a manageable 13. Which portable tire inflators produced the closing reduce?

In get to get a reasonable and neutral sample of portable tire inflators, we selected a number of brand name names we know and have confidence in, as effectively as a bunch of off-manufacturer compressors with (normally) decreased rates and (typically) greater scores. We assembled a broad range of measurements, power, and designs to stand for the quite a few kinds of moveable tire inflators on the marketplace. Ultimately, we purposely avoided the myriad of little handheld inflators that look additional like smartphones than air compressors.

After we experienced our final tire inflator lineup, we ran them through the Gear Team wringer to see how they carried out: which kinds stood out, which ones dominated the competition, and which kinds still left us seeking much more. And we photographed the whole process. (Editor’s Notice: In situation you ended up wondering, the over time-lapse GIF is all around two minutes of actual time that Milwaukee is a BEAST.)

What to Look for in a Transportable Tire Inflator


Moveable tire inflators occur in many designs and sizes, but they properly split down into two distinct styles: handheld equipment and console models. The most crucial consideration when searching for a tire inflator is what you may be using it for.

Handheld is the way to go for a tire inflator to retain in your vehicle in scenario of emergencies. A handheld inflator must be easily stashable and very simple to use. Shop for a handheld that characteristics a work light for nighttime cases, a electronic gauge for accurate readings and vehicle-shutoff, a clamp-design and style valve connector, and a 12-volt plug to reliably electrical power the unit with your automobile when you will need it.

Console units are excellent for daily residence and leisure inflation. Consoles must be able to inflate nearly just about anything, from auto tires to athletics balls to air mattresses for automobile tenting to rafts and SUPs for enjoyable recreation (inflatable kayak, any one?). Most characteristic numerous energy alternatives, many inflation attachments, and far more characteristics you will never discover in a handheld.

On the downside, consoles didn’t accomplish as nicely as handheld models in the a single exam we at the Gear Staff have been most involved with: portable tire inflation. They all obtained the job finished, but up and down the line, the transportable handheld units we analyzed ended up speedier. In addition, numerous console units can barely be thought of “portable.” Yes, you can decide them up, have them all over the home, and pack them in your auto for holidays. But preserving a console inflator in the car in situation of emergencies is out of the issue for most of us.

Electric power Source

No issue which portable car or truck tire inflator you invest in, glance for one particular that capabilities an alternate electrical power source alternative. Battery-powered handhelds are portable and effortless to use, but they really should also have a backup 12-volt plug, just in case. Due to the fact your vehicle’s 12-volt outlet will be generally reliably around its tires and is a trusty electrical power source—unless, of training course, your vehicle battery is dead.

Pro Tip: Batteries in stowed products are also-conveniently neglected. If you might be maintaining any battery-driven gadget, this sort of as an inflator or jump starter in your car, charge their batteries each individual couple months—say, every single time you give your car or truck a detail position that incorporates vacuuming and inside cleansing.

Wall plugs are fantastic for close to-the-home tire top rated-offs, but the car or truck will need to be moved close to an electrical outlet, or you will want a moveable generator or battery pack to plug into. Immediate-to-battery energy resources, these as on the Viair unit we tested, present greatest electric power but can be unwieldy. Far more on that later on.

Components and Functions

When buying for a tire inflator, look for gains such as:

-An integrated operate light for dim roadside repairs some flash to function as unexpected emergency beacons

-A digital gauge with vehicle shut-off, instead than analog dials

Clamp-style valve attachments are simpler and additional handy than screw-on connectors

-Loads of attachments, these kinds of as a tapered nozzle for inflating air mattresses, rafts, and pool toys a needle for sporting activities balls and a Presta valve chuck for some highway-bicycle tires

Rubber toes to retain your inflator planted while operational