Best Tire Inflator – Ultimate Buying Guide 2018

President Obama once remarked that if every American made sure their tire pressure was correct, there would be significantly less spending on oil. That turned out to be true, as FactCheck.org found that if the 60-80% of the cars on the road fixed their tire pressure, Americans could save as much as one billion gallons of per year.

So, buying a tire inflator can definitely be looked at as more of an investment than expenditure. With that in mind, we have come with a list of the best tire inflators, in three different categories: the 12-volt, the 120-volt and the air compressor style.

There are a couple of things to know before we dive in. First, some definitions: PSI = Pounds per Square Inch, which is a measure of how much pressure an inflated object has; Your car tires or vehicle manual will display the optimal PSI for your car. Also, there is LPM which stands for Liters per Minute. Those measurements will be explained in more detail below.

Finally, we have a completely different review article on jump starters that include tire inflators here if you wish to browse through them instead.


Table of Contents

PreviewNameAwardsPurchase

P.I. Auto Store

BEST 12V

KENSUN AC DC

BEST 120V

JACO FlowPro

BEST COMPRESSOR


Best 12V Tire Inflator

The first type of tire inflator that we are going to discuss is the 12-volt tire inflator. These units have quite a few advantages over some of the others on this list. The main one is portability. You can keep this type of tire inflator in your car and then plug it right into the 12-volt adapter (the cigarette lighter in older cars) and start pumping up your tires.

Of course, the disadvantage to having one of these is that you either have to use them in your car or you need to have some kind of 12-volt converter plug in your home to be able to use it inside. As long as you have a vehicle available, it should be fine though. You also need to make sure that you have a 15-amp fuse minimum to support your 12-volt. Most cars use these anyway, but you want to make sure you check.


a) P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator

P.I. Auto Store

Microprocessor monitors tire pressure, automatically stopping at the precise pressure you set on the backlit LCD display gauge.

Not only is this a great-looking tire inflator, it also a lot of features and is one of the easiest to use available on the market these days. Let’s take a look at the features.

Specifications

  • Powered by any 12-volt DC outlet
  • Automatically fills your tire to the PSI setting you enter
  • Fills tire to within a window of +1 or -1 your entered PSI
  • Stable rubber feet
  • Made of hard plastic resistant to damage
  • Reinforced hose as well
  • Includes LED spotlight and backlighting on LCD screen
  • Reach of 13 feet
  • Rear compartment to store cord and cables
  • Comes with a carrying case and several adapters at no additional cost

The Good Stuff

This is a really great 12-volt tire inflator that has solved many of the problems that these units often have. For example, the 13 foot cord is about the longest out there for these types of tools, and the computer microprocessor that will get the perfect tire pressure with one degree variance is very impressive.

Plus, the lights are very useful for when you have to inflate a tire at night and you can inflate just about any car or truck tire with this unit – going from flat to 30 PSI in less than four minutes. Plus, it’s convenient to carry around and comes with every adapter you will need.

The Cautionary Stuff

Two things that you should be aware of: first, it’s pretty noisy. Luckily, it only needs to run for a few minutes. Second, the specs say that it will inflate tires that are 150 PSI but that’s not happening. It will do fine on car tires, truck and many RV tires though.

Verdict

This is an excellent 12-volt compressor but not perfect, especially if you have big jobs. Still, you can’t beat the price.


b) EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump

EPAuto 12V

CONVENIENCE: Plug directly into Cigarette Lighter Socket of your Vehicle. 12VDC 10~15 amps, 120~180W

This is a really useful air compressor that is pretty compact, has a terrific price and comes with everything you need to inflate just about anything, from basketballs to car tires.

Specifications

  • Plugs into the cigarette lighter/12-volt adapter
  • 10-15 amps, 120-180 watts
  • Super-bright blue display
  • Displays in multiple measurement units
  • Bright LED flashlight included with the unit
  • Shuts off automatically when PSI is reached

The Good Stuff

So, this unit has some great stuff that you will love. For example, the flashlight that comes attached could save you some major time on your next flat or roadside problem. In addition, there is a really bright display that you can see just as easily at night as you can in the daytime.

This tire inflator has all of the adapters included that you need to switch between car tires, basketballs or bikes tires. Plus, it displays in PSI, KPA, BAR or KG/CM, whichever you are most comfortable with. In addition, it will never overinflate or overheat, because of the auto-shutoff technology included.

The Cautionary Stuff

This is a 120-180 watt tire inflator – so make sure that your 12-volt port and fuses can support 15 amps.

Verdict

Great price, high-quality product; it’s not the most powerful 12-volt compressors in the world, but it is probably somewhere near the top.


c) TireTek RX-i Digital Tire Inflator Pump

TireTek RX-i

FEATURES 3 x ADDITIONAL POWER OUTLETS in the form of a 12V DC and two USB charging sockets.

What this tire inflator has going for it is the fact that it is really small and portable. No matter how little space you have, you’ll be able to find a place for this 12-volt inflator.

Specifications

  • Convenient and small enough to tuck anywhere
  • Is able to stretch nearly 13 feet with include hose extension
  • Will inflate a car tire really fast – under three minutes
  • Quieter than standard inflators
  • Has adapters and ports of all kinds
  • Automatic shut-off

The Good Stuff

This tire inflator is powerful and fully-featured. It has a LMP (liters of air per minute) of 40 and an included extension hose that will make sure you can reach any tire on any size car or truck. In addition, it has three additional power outlets – a 12-volt DC plug and two standard USB ports.

This pump is quieter than many of the other 12-volt inflators on this list, will shut off automatically when you reach your desired pressure and will display the pressure in all four of the standard measurements around the world. Plus, it comes with a 12 month no-questions warranty and all of the adapters.

The Cautionary Stuff

There were almost no problems reported with this unit. It is one of the most problem-free 12-volt inflators we have seen.

Verdict

This unit is powerful, inexpensive and has USB ports – it’s a no-brainer really to recommend this inflator.


d) Slime 40022 12-Volt Digital Tire Inflator

Slime 40022

Inflates a standard mid-sized car tire in 6 minutes,

This tire inflator is pretty small and has a cool, futuristic look. It also has a great price and some good features, but it’s not one of the most powerful units on this list.

Specifications

  • Can inflate a car tire in about six minutes
  • Auto-shutoff when the proper PSI is reached
  • Bright LED light that will last for years
  • Rubber feet
  • Small, compact and easy to store

The Good Stuff

This is a really great inflator for most things, but it is going to be less powerful than most of the other 12-volt inflators on this list. It does have the standards like auto-shutoff, rubber feet for stability and an LED light to keep your area illuminated at night while you are working.

The Cautionary Stuff

The problem is, this just doesn’t have enough power to recommend too highly. It’s slow – with a inflate time of almost twice the others on this list, and the maximum fill is 35 PSI which is pretty low.

Verdict

If you don’t plan on inflating the tires of anything bigger than a compact car, this will definitely do the trick for you. If you plan on anything bigger, you’re probably going to need more power.


e) LifeLine AAA 300 PSI 12 Volt DC Air Compressor

LifeLine AAA

Quick connect air hose

This tire inflator comes to the market from AAA – which is the group that responds when you need a tire inflated, assuming you have the membership.  This is a pretty good product, with enough power to do the job

Specifications

  • 300 PSI maximum
  • 10-foot cord from the 12=volt plug
  • Long air house that connects fast
  • Nozzle adapters included
  • Comes with air pressure gauge

The Good Stuff

This is actually a pretty good compact air inflator unit. The brand is good and AAA knows what they are doing when it comes to tire inflation, so it’s probably very accurate. The price is incredible but that’s because pretty much everything is manual.

In other words, this doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the other 12-volt units like auto-shutoff and entering PSI on a digital keypad. It does have a massive PSI capacity, long cords and hoses and everything you need to inflate tires, balls or anything else.

The Cautionary Stuff

It’s small. It’s cheap. It’s going to do the job – probably not as well as some of the premium models though. Plus, it’s going to have to be replaced eventually.

Verdict

If you’re on a budget but you still need 300 PSI and a compact 12-volt tire inflator that will last you at least a year – this one was made for you.


Best 120V Tire Inflator

The next category of tire inflator that we’re going to discuss is the 120-volt tire inflator – or the one that you would have to plug into the wall. The main advantage that this type of inflator has over the 12-volt that we just discussed is that the motor is much more powerful, and you will be able to fill tires in less time. In fact, you might have trouble filling some larger vehicle tires with a 12-volt, depending upon the specifications.

Even though these units are more powerful, quieter and a great deal faster, the price tags are actually a little lower than some of the 12-volt units. They also have no problem with even the larger vehicle tires that need a lot of air pressure and they are great because they can be plugged in and ready to go in your garage or hanging out in the trunk of your car if you need to inflate a tire and you’re near an electrical outlet. Let’s take a look at the 120-volt units.


a) Kensun AC/DC Rapid Performance

Kensun AC/DC

Kensun quality: Brought to you by one of the most trusted names in automotive accessories with incomparable customer service!

Our first 110-volt tire inflator on this list is not – at least It’s not just a 110/120 volt inflator – it actually works with the 12-volt in your car as well.

Specifications

  • Trusted quality from the Kensun brand
  • Above and beyond customer service for tire inflators
  • Adaptable to a 110/120 wall socket connection or the 12-volt connection in your car
  • Digital display with conversions and presets
  • Every attachment nozzle you could want
  • Will inflate up to 90 PSI
  • Bright, LED lighting

The Good Stuff

There are a lot of good things about this 120-volt tire inflator. Obviously, one of the biggest advantages is that you can use it both in your car and in the house, garage or yard because it adapts to both 120-volt and 12-volt plugs.

But it also has a really great digital display and an onboard computer that fills up anything you need to inflate with the perfect amount of air. The LCD display is bright in both daylight and complete darkness, and it converts between the four standard pressure measurements. It will also fill up to 90 PSI, which is pretty decent and it has a terrific light to allow you to work.

The Cautionary Stuff

The only two things to be aware of with this inflator are that it takes an extra couple of minutes than some of the others listed here, and it’s the most expensive one on the list, because of all the features and the fact that it can plug into both outlets.

Verdict

This is a great inflator and well worth the extra money.


b) Goodyear i8000 120-Volt Direct Drive Tire Inflator

Goodyear i8000

18 feet of air hose with quick connect valve and 6 foot power cord makes it extremely easy and hassle-free to reach all vehicle tires

If you’ve looked at television or listened to a radio in America you’ve almost certainly heard of the Goodyear brand. Most famous for tires, the company also makes a really terrific 120v tire inflator as well.

Specifications

  • 18-foot air hose
  • 6-foot power cord
  • Direct-drive motor for almost silent operation
  • A whole collection of adapters for anything you can think of
  • Inflates a small car tire in about 2 minutes
  • Will inflate tires up to 150 PSI

The Good Stuff

There are so many advantages with this inflator that you really should have this one at the top of your list for 120-volt tire inflators. One of the biggest reasons you should consider this one is the combination of the air hose and the power cord, which gives you a total of 24 feet of length. Plus, it has a very high PSI cap and it inflates fast.

The Cautionary Stuff

The only word of caution with this is that a significant percentage of people had trouble with the adapter to inflate car tires. It was a pain to use and it didn’t fasten securely.

Verdict

This is still a great inflator but be aware that you might have trouble with inflating car tires once in a while.


c) Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station High Performance Inflator

Black & Decker ASI300

Inflates lawnmower, bike, and vehicle tires, sports balls, and other items quickly and easily

Black & Decker is known for making good products at really affordable prices and this inflator is no exception. There aren’t many bells or whistles, but it’s a solid product with an excellent price.

Specifications

  • Inflates everything from lawnmower tires to beach balls, and will work with vehicle tires as well
  • Instant shut off dial when the correct PSI is reached
  • Small, compact, will fit anywhere
  • 2-year warranty
  • Weighs just 6 pounds
  • Includes three attachments – tire nozzle, needle for balls and extension nozzle

The Good Stuff

This is a solid, inexpensive tire inflator. It will work for just about any tire that you want to inflate and it’s small and compact. The dial is easy to use and the pressure indicator is easy to see as well. Plus, it comes with a two-year warranty and has all three of the needles/adapters that you need.

The Cautionary Stuff

It’s not that powerful and you need to shut it off manually when it reaches the correct PSI. There is no auto-shutoff.

Verdict

This is a good budget inflator but you probably want to look elsewhere if you want something with a lot of power or with automation or safety features.


d) Kensun AC/DC Swift Performance

Kensun AC/DC

Kensun quality: Brought to you by one of the most trusted names in automotive accessories with incomparable customer service!

This is the less-endowed little sister of the other Kensun unit that is at the top of the 120-volt inflators. If you notice, this one is also switchable between the 110/120-volt the 12-volt car plug.

Specifications

  • Another quality Kensun product
  • Switches from AC (wall outlet) to DC (car 12-volt port)
  • Analog pressure gauge
  • Fills up to 120 PSI
  • Includes three attachment nozzles
  • Flow rate of 20 LPM

The Good Stuff

This is a good quality Kensun product. The length is about 12 feet which should give you plenty of room and this is a really powerful inflator that will have no problem with the larger car tries. Plus, just like the other Kensun on this list, it will work with both AC (outlet) plugs and DC (car 12-volt) plugs.

The Cautionary Stuff

This doesn’t have the features of the other Kensun, which is why it is priced lower. There is no digital display, nor does it have an automatic shutoff switch. But it works well and is probably just as powerful as the more fully-featured Kensun.

Verdict

If you don’t’ mind the analog pressure gauge and you want to save some money – go with this inflator.


e) Slime 40029 120-Volt Inflator

Slime 40029

Inflates a standard car tire in 4 minutes

This is another Slime inflator – this time a 120-volt with more power. It also has some upgrades that make it a more powerful inflator than the

Specifications

  • Four minutes to inflate a car tire
  • Will fill cars, trucks, bikes and much more
  • Air hose extends several feet for versatility and movement
  • Will fill up to 150 PSI

The Good Stuff

This is a decent inflator, but it’s really basic – and the price reflects that. It does have the advantage of inflating up to 150 PSI and the air hose helps you reach any tire that you need to inflate. It will work for anything that you want to fill and it’s pretty fast. It’s right in the middle of the other 120-volt inflators on this list.

The Cautionary Stuff

This has a battery that you can charge by plugging the unit in, but it doesn’t last very long and after owning it for a couple of years the battery is basically garbage.

Verdict

Honestly, there are probably better inflators on this list for about the same price. This is a decent tire inflator, but there is nothing really that make it stand out.


Best Compressor Tire Inflator

The third type of inflator that will be discussed here is a more expensive but extremely useful inflator commonly called the air compressor. These usually cost more than either the 12-volt or the 110 or 120-volt inflators but they are also infinitely more valuable because you can hook them up to many compressed air tools as well as fill up any tire whenever you want.

These air compressors are much sturdier, last a lot longer and they fill up tires much more accurately than any of the previous models that we have reviewed here. That’s why these are considered commercial models and will have a higher price tag. If you are looking to fill up tires in seconds, and have enough durability and power to do car after car, for years, then this is your inflator.


a) JACO FlowPro Tire Inflator Gauge – 100 PSI

JACO FlowPro

Performance tested & certified accurate to ANSI B40.1 International Accuracy Standards (±2-3%), providing the ability to measure and inflate with precision up to 100 PSI without relying on batteries

This JACO air compressor is definitely a workhorse. It is one of the most powerful air compressor heads on this list and it is ready to go with any compressed air tool that you have in your arsenal as well as any motor. Plus, it has some great features that make the great price even more surprising. Let’s take a look at the specifications of this tire inflator.

Specifications

  • Extremely accurate – tested to commercial standards like the ANSI B40.1 International Accuracy Standards (2-3%)
  • Includes a long, expandable hose that will reach a long and allow you to move the head to fit on the tire valve perfectly
  • Extremely durable with a steel body and a bleeder valve which will allow fast deflating if a tire gets overfilled
  • 2 interchangeable lock air chucks
  • ¼ male fitting
  • Threaded tape roll that seals
  • Comes with a 100% ‘Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee’

The Good Stuff

This has a whole lot of great features and for those who are serious about making sure that they have an air compressor with head that can inflate any size tire and ensure accuracy on a professional level, this truly is a marvel.

The accuracy is good enough to be used in any commercial business, from a mechanic’s shop to a truck garage. This inflator doesn’t require a battery and it will inflate up to 100 PSI which should be plenty of just about anyone.

In addition, this unit comes with an extra-long rubber hose and the dial even glows in the dark so that when you get down into the dim part of the garage you can still see the dial perfect. This is a workhouse and a high-quality commercial product that is well worth the price.

The Cautionary Stuff

There is almost no reason to put this section, since this head comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for the entire lifetime of the person that buys it. But there are a few things that you should know before you buy.

First, be aware that you are going to need a 1/4″ NPT air compressor fitting in order to make this head work. You are also obviously going to need an air compressor. The only other complaint that people had was the lack of a swivel head.

Verdict

Probably the strongest, most durable and safest head to buy since it is made for commercial and industrial use and it comes with a lifetime warranty.


b) EPAuto Digital Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge

EPAuto

MEASURE Range: 0 ~ 255 PSI, 0 ~ 18 Bar, 0 ~ 18 Kg/cm2, 0 ~ 1800 kpa

According to the specs, this is one of the most powerful tire inflators on this entire list. This is easy to use, has a big, bright LED screen and will fill up to 255 PSI. That in itself is probably the only reason that you need to get this air compressor – because it allows you to fill up any tire – pretty much no matter how big. Let’s check out the features.

Specifications

  • Will fill up to 255 PSI
  • Incredible accuracy – maximum plus or minus 1/10th of a percent
  • Battery powered for portability
  • Commercial grade construction
  • Locking air chuck
  • Industry D-plug included

The Good Stuff

There are lots of advantages to going with this inflator over the others on the market – and even a few over the ones on this list. One of the biggest advantages is that it will convert between the four standards for measuring pressure with these top and bottom numbers: 0 ~ 255 PSI, 0 ~ 18 Bar, 0 ~ 18 Kg/cm2, 0 ~ 1800 kpa.

It is also the most accurate of the compressor heads on this list with a margin of error so low it blows the rest of the heads out of the water. It is tested and certified to be accurate within 0.01% of a single PSI point. It features an auto-shutoff after 15 seconds and is almost certainly the most powerful of all of these compressor heads.

The Cautionary Stuff

Besides repeating the rather obvious instructions that you need to hook this up to an air compressor to get it to work, the only other thing that you should know is that this head runs on a battery. It won’t work without it. It doesn’t run on the power of the compressed air or electricity unfortunately.

Verdict

If you don’t mind the battery, this is the most accurate and the most powerful compressor head on this list.


c) Milton S-506 Inflator Gauge Dual Head Chuck with 15 Inch Air Hose

Milton S-506

Full swivel chuck

This is one of the most versatile inflator heads on this list because of the way that it is designed. The dual-head chuck with a full swivel makes it easy to access the valves on your tires, even if they are in a location where it is difficult to angle the inflator head. This really is a great tool, particularly for the price. Let’s look at the specification.

Specifications

  • Features a full swivel locking chuck
  • Extended length hose that will allow you 15 inches of room to get to the tire
  • Pushes anywhere from 10 to 60 PSI two pounds at a time
  • Converts to several other pressure measurements
  • Proudly made in the USA

The Good Stuff

Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot to this compressor head but it does have some advantages over the rest. Probably the biggest strength that this compressor head has is the fact that is it really easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

If you have a small garage or you find yourself always having trouble getting your current compressor head to the valve stem then this might solve your problems. Because of the way that this swivels, it will easily fit into tight spaces and get to the car even when another compressor head wouldn’t be able to.

There are obviously other reasons to get his heads as well. The price is great, and it is made from high-quality materials for commercial use. In addition, it caps out at 60 PSI, which is decent, and you have several feet of room to maneuver the hose.

The Cautionary Stuff

As far as things that you need to watch out for, the only thing to be aware of is the fact that you need two hands to hold onto this thing. It really is heavy-duty and even though it can swivel around to just about any position, it does have some power behind it and when you have the air hooked up you want to keep a good hold on it.

Verdict

If you need a compressor head that fits into tight spaces, this is definitely the one that you want. The only thing is, it caps at 60 PSI, which means that if you need to do big tires, you are probably going to have problems. But for cars, trucks and everything else, this is perfect.


d) EPAuto Commercial Grade Dual Head Tire Inflator

EPAuto Commercial Grade Dual Head

6 inch chrome-plated dual head chuck

When you need a commercial grade inflator head that you can get hooked up fast and inflating tires, this is probably the one that rises to the top of these five. This is an extremely heavy-duty head that will stand up to a great deal of abuse and it is going to last for you a very long time. Plus, there are some really great features with it as well. Let’s move onto the features.

Specifications

  • Features a dual-head chuck, 6-inch chrome-plated
  • PSI can be anywhere from 10 to 120
  • Air hose that extends to a full 12 inches
  • Features a bubble lens that allows you to see the entire pressure scale as you are inflating
  • Super-fast changing out of heads for tools, compressed air and more

The Good Stuff

The biggest strength that this compressor head has that makes it different from the other ones on this list is that the way it is designed makes it really easy to change out heads really fast. This is perfect for the amateur mechanic or the person who uses a lot of tools out in their garage because they will be able to change out compressed air tools really fast when they need to.

There are some heads on the market that make it quite an ordeal to change the tool on the end, but this is most definitely  not one of them. Another feature that is really useful, especially when you are working in a dim garage, is the magnification of the pressure scale that allows you to see exactly where the needle is from various angles.

The Cautionary Stuff

As you probably guessed, this does not come with the compressor. You are going to have to hook it up to your air compressor and you need one that will take a ¼ inch NPT female inlet connection. The only other thing to be aware of is that in a very small percentage of cases, the chuck that is included will not fit the valve stem. But this is really rare and you will only encounter it if you use it on a lot of different cars.

Verdict

This is a terrific compressor head that will allow you to hook up and unhook tools really fast and it is well worth the price and will last you quite a while.


e) EPAuto Heavy Duty 120

EPAuto Heavy Duty 120

All In One: inflation gun, chuck, gauge and hose

The last item on this list of the air compressor heads is the EPAuto heavy-duty head with a 120 PSI cap. This is also one of the heads on here that make it really easy to change out the tools on the end, so if you are getting this because you have several compressed air tools and you want something that will make it easy to switch between them, this might be your guy. Let’s check the specs.

Specifications

  • Everything you need in one including chuck, hose, gauge and inflation nozzle
  • Rubber sleeve surrounds the two-inch dial
  • PSI Range: 0-120
  • Converts between the four major measurement types: PSI, BAR, KFG and KPA
  • Comes with an industrial D-plug

The Good Stuff

This compressor has a good range on it (0-120 the conversion on the display is useful. The unit is well-made and it is easy to set it up and use it. What’s really great about this unit is that everything is simply designed perfect to use the entire head comfortably. The gauge is large and easy-to-read, and it is easy to see it while it is in your hand. Plus, with the quick-connect design, it is definitely an asset to any garage.

The Cautionary Stuff

A few people mentioned that they had problems with the gauge in their product, but these were a very small percentage compared to the huge number or customers who were happy with the product. They said that it didn’t move quickly enough and they were concerned about accuracy.

Verdict

The convenience of this compressor head is the big selling point – everything you need is already attached which means you can grab it and go.


Jump Starter with Tire Inflator vs. Tire Inflator Alone

As you can see, there are some definite advantages to going with the compressor models, but there are also some things that you lose out on, like portability. You will have to decide what you value most in a tire inflator and then choose the category and the model that gives you that at a price that you are comfortable with.

You will have to decide whether you are okay with probably having to replace it in a few months or years, or whether you want something that will be set up permanently in your garage.

As previously mentioned, there are other models of tire inflator out there that have different purposes or extra features. An example of that is a jump starter that already has a tire inflator included with it.

These certainly have their advantages – the fact that you can inflate your tires and start your dead battery with one unit obviously the main one – but there are a few reasons why you might want to separate these two pieces of equipment too. Check out our review of jump starters with added features like tire inflators here.

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