There are so many of these products available in the market that it is hard to decide at first. This guide will show you our recommended portable tire inflators in the market
Tires are the only physical connection between your car and the ground. They have to absorb the impact of road debris, transmit bumps as little as possible, and provide traction in many driving conditions. The only way we can ensure all that happens is by taking proper care of them. However, that does not mean buying good ones and forget they exist: you must keep your car’s tires with an appropriate pressure.
We know that gas stations are the go-to place to do that. But we also know that their inflators may be out of service, you may have to pay to use them… not to mention there are times when we are too far from a gas station or a repair shop. In the end, portable tire inflators can save the day in those situations because the solution will be right there, lying in your car’s trunk. In this article, we will talk more about them.
Avid Power Pistol Grip
Well-rounded portable tire inflator with many attachments and a competitive price
Fortem Tire Inflator
More features and capabilities than it has any right to offer given its low price
Best for heavy duty
Neo-industrial design and a sturdy construction. Ideal for DIY enthusiasts
Are portable tire inflators worth it?
Yes, because car tires have a permanent tendency to lose pressure. That might happen because of a loose nozzle cap, cuts and cracks on the rubber, misalignment… even the weather may play a role, because low temperatures lower air pressure. When that happens, the contact patch with the ground increases and the sidewalls flex further. Those effects cause higher friction and stress, which makes the tires wear faster.
The portable tire inflator is useful because you can keep it in the trunk along with a tire pressure monitor. You can correct the pressure yourself periodically or whenever you feel a difference in the car’s dynamics. Parallel to that, some of those devices come with the appropriate connectors to inflate other products as well, such as air mattresses, pool toys, and sports balls. Your purchase becomes even more functional.
How to use portable tire inflator?
We have selected only portable, or handheld, devices here. They are easy to use and to store especially in your car’s trunk. Many of them feature attachments such as auto shut-off, digital gauge, clamp-style valve connector, work light, and even a 12-volt plug. There are console tire inflators too, and they may feature even more tools, but they usually have a lower capacity. Besides, they are not made for emergency use.
When it comes to power source, you should always have two. In other words, you should prefer portable tire inflators with a battery and a 12-volt plug. This way, you will be able to move freely with your device, but there will be a backup source in case you need. Then again, since you are keeping a battery-powered tool stored in your car, remember to fully recharge it every now and then to preserve the battery’s life.
What is the best portable tire inflator?
Now that we have covered the basics, it is time for the reviews. As usual, we consider a few models better than the rest, so we are going to present them in more detail. Then again, you will also have access to our impressions on the others. We also present the content table below with an initial overview of all of them, so you can easily compare by yourself. Finally, there will be a section with why we made our selections.
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Best overall: Avid Power Pistol Grip
The first attraction to mention is its power drill design: it makes this portable tire inflator very easy to use. Besides that, it features both a battery and a 12-volt plug, which makes it highly dependable. In terms of actual work, it has received compliments from the specialized press and from the public because of how fast it can inflate average-sized car tires. And it features a rubberized handle so you will have extra grip.
As if that was not enough, let us take a moment to appreciate its extras. Built-in LED for nighttime work; digital display for you to program work parameters; auto shut-off function; the battery offers an USB port to recharge electronic devices; and three adapter nozzles each one with a spare copy in case you lose the first one. Everything for a low regular price which you can easily find with discounts. Look no further.
- Overall design makes it easy and safe to use
- 12-volt plug instead of a second battery
- Several additions make it highly versatile
- Not appropriate for heavy-duty operations
- Some people have reported that it is hard to find replacement batteries
Most affordable: Fortem Tire Inflator
We all want to get the job done at the lowest cost, of course. However, there are times when we also do not want to invest much in that. This portable tire inflator becomes suitable for occasional users because of that: it is the cheapest in this list. Even non-enthusiasts can have it because it will not break your wallet. Now, things get even better when you learn that it has many functions to offer despite that low price.
Besides that sturdy case, you will find a 14-foot-long cable, a digital display to set the desired pressure (in several units), and an auto shut-off function. And everything fits into a portable tire inflator which is small enough to fit into any trunk without any problems. On the other side, customers have reported that the company offers poor customer service. And it can only be powered by the dashboard’s 12-volt socket.
- Work light and auto shut-off make work easy
- Compact, yet sturdy and resistant build
- Awesome value considering its low price
- Does not come with an internal battery
- There are reports of poor customer service
- Offers either 12-volt or 110-volt connection
Best for heavy duty: Viair 88P
This company has a solid reputation in the segment of air compressors for commercial use. This portable tire inflator actually looks like a miniature of those, which is quite interesting. When it comes to its use, it is capable enough even for heavy-duty jobs. You may also like to know that its hose is quite long, so there will be no problem for you to reach all wheels. And everything in the Viair is easy to mount and operate.
Now, the downsides are also big. It is one of the loudest in this list; it is only powered by the car’s battery using alligator clamps; the analog gauge is not precise; and you cannot preset tire pressures. Besides that, it does not offer extras like batter or work light. In other words, this portable tire inflator is a great option for people who are already familiar with car mechanics as a whole. Definitely not for occasional users.
- High inflation capacity even for heavy duty
- Simple and easy to install and to operate
- Design inspired inother Viair compressors
- Analog gauge is reported to be imprecise
- One of the loudest portable tire inflators
- Power supply could be more user-friendly
AstroAI Pistol Grip
Simply the easiest to use: you set the desired pressure, attach the connector, and pull the trigger. You will also like to know that it offers two power sources: a fast-charging battery or a 12-volt cable whose plug can use an adapter to fit a 110-volt socket. While it is not meant for heavy duty, it does handle urban-car tires well. However, it is extremely loud and its display takes long to turn off, which wastes battery life.
Teromas Handheld Corded
The low price indicates that this portable tire inflator is not going to be the best. However, it does offer a good value: you will find two power cords, average inflation time, and several adapters including a needle for balls. On the other hand, its construction is not so sturdy, and there have been complaints about low precision in balls: the automatic shut-off function turns off the inflator before the ball is effectively full.
While this is another budget offering, it does not excel at anything like the Fortem. It is cheap, quite easy to store in the car, and offers a digital gauge and a work light. However, you can only use it with a power cord, whether plugged to your car or to a wall. That gauge is not precise, so you will have to get used to the reading difference. And it can only work for ten minutes at a time in order to prevent overheating.
What do we recommend?
Hands down, the Avid Power Pistol Grip. This portable tire inflator offers pretty much everything in terms of add-ons, and does its main job quite well. It is not suitable for heavy-duty use, but that is not an issue when you remember its purpose. It is meant for personal use on urban cars, so we are really not looking for otherwordly performance. When it comes to everyday versatility, there is really no better competitor.
This time, the honorable mention goes to the Viair 88P. If you have read the paragraph above, we will be able to define this portable tire inflator as the opposite. It is designed for mechanics and for enthusiasts, so there are not many gadgets to make usability easier. However, you will find top quality and a capacity that matches that of larger devices. If you have your own tire pressure monitor, things get even better.