Keep your tires inflated with the top car tire air pumps

·10 min read



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Don’t wait until you reach a gas station to take care of your tires. These great car tire air pumps can help you out in a pinch. Cars rely on inflated rubber tires to get around without damaging the components inside of them. Tires aren’t 100% leakproof, though, and over time air does leave the tire, causing it to become deflated. Deflated tires are dangerous, and drivers should always be on the lookout for signs that their vehicle may have a flat tire.

If you don’t want the hassle of driving to a gas station or a repair shop to inflate your car’s tires, take matters into your own hands with one of our favorite car tire air pumps. They’re strong, allowing you to pump the necessary air into your tires, and the great part is that they’re portable, too. If this sounds like something you’d like to add to your car’s emergency maintenance kit, then take a look at these five car tire air pumps we think could make your life a whole lot easier.

Top car tire air pumps worth considering in 2022

GSPSCN Dual Cylinder Air Compressor: Our pick

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This GSPSCN dual cylinder air compressor starts our list off strong, and it’s just as powerful as it looks. It can run on power from your car’s outlet, letting you use it wherever and whenever you need to, and it also comes with a complete tire inflation kit, giving you everything you’ll need to inflate your tires right out of the box. The kit includes a hose, an extension hose for hard-to-reach areas, various adapters, and even some clamps and cables. All of this fits nicely inside a provided carrying bag, making this kit a great gift for someone who’s always on the road.

Pros

  • Fast tire inflation

  • Accessories, adapters and carrying case included

  • Built-in LED light for late-night use

Cons

  • Possible inaccuracies with pressure gauge

Slime 40050 12V Portable Car Air Compressor: Another great option

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There are many things to learn when you first start driving, and it can be difficult to get used to everything. Some new drivers might feel overwhelmed using things such as air compressors and tire inflators, but fortunately there are some designed specifically for easy use-- they’re so easy, in fact, that you’ll only need to push one button to use them. This one-button tire inflator from Slime is great for someone who doesn’t want to be bogged down with extra features. It has an easy-to-spot green button that can be pressed at any time, as well as an air pressure gauge that tells it when to stop. The inflator also comes with an LED light that can help with visibility if you’re using it in dim lighting or at night.

Pros

  • Simple, one-button design

  • Small and compact, easy to store

  • The adapter included for various non-tire uses

Cons

  • No handles for carrying

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump: Also consider

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Many air compressors use an analog gauge to display pressure, but some modern compressors use a digital display instead. The advantage of a digital display is that it’s often easier to read, and with LED lighting you won’t have to shine a light on the gauge at night. This EPAuto portable air compressor has a bright LED display, making it easy to check tire pressure no matter the time of day (or night). This compressor pump is available in four different colors (red, blue, yellow, and green), and its large LED light can be pointed with the help of a conveniently-placed handle. It can light up your garage for some late-night car maintenance, and overall it’s a solid product with a nice digital display.

Pros

  • Easy-to-read digital display

  • Universal valve connector, adapters included

  • Automatically shuts off when desired pressure reached

Cons

  • Not intended for use with truck tires

VacLife Air Compressor Tire Inflator: Another option

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Among all the air compressors and tire inflators on our list, this one from VacLife is probably the nicest looking. It has a modern, minimalist look to it, but its good looks don’t come at a high price-- what’s most surprising about this air compressor is that it’s relatively inexpensive, and won’t set you back more than $40. This compressor has an easy-to-read digital display and various buttons for controlling its settings that nicely fit the device’s design. It comes with needles and nozzle adapters for pumping air into most inflatable objects, but it can’t handle anything higher than 50 PSI (pounds per square inch), so it’s probably not a good choice if you’re looking for something to inflate your large truck’s tires.

Pros

  • Sleek, compact design

  • Multiple nozzles for various uses

  • Automatically shuts off when finished inflating

Cons

  • Buttons are hard to see at night

AstroAI Air Compressor: Also try

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If power is what you’re looking for, you’ve definitely found it with this next product. This AstroAI air compressor can handle up to 100 PSI, and it can inflate a car tire from 0 to 35 PSI in less than five minutes. It also has a digital display, which ties well with one of its other features-- programmable inflation. You can set your desired pressure and have the compressor pump air until it reaches your set value. While this compressor is powerful, it also has some limitations. Perhaps the biggest one is the fact that after 10-15 minutes of use you’ll have to shut it off to let the compressor rest. This can be a problem if you need to inflate multiple tires as soon as possible, but if you just need to inflate something quickly it probably won’t be that big of a deal.

Pros

  • Inflates up to 100 PSI

  • Programmable inflation feature

  • Fast inflation times

Cons

  • Needs rest after 10-15 minutes of use

Buying guide: Car tire air pumps

If you have to inflate your car’s tires in an emergency, you’ll need a portable air pump or compressor nearby. Here’s everything you should know about car tire air pumps.

Why do I need a car tire air pump?

Inflate tires in a pinch

The main reason a lot of drivers invest in a good air compressor kit is so they can always inflate their tires, even in the event of an emergency. There are plenty of situations where you might suddenly need air-- if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and notice that one of your tires is deflated, you’ll probably want to pull over and inflate it as quickly as possible.

Having compressed air available at any time can save you, but it can also just as easily save other drivers who don’t have their own air compressors. If you see someone stranded on the roadside, you can help them out if they have a deflated tire. 

Save time and money in the long run

While it’s not exactly expensive, it does cost money to inflate your tires. This is especially true if you own multiple vehicles or multiple spare tires-- it costs money to keep them all inflated, and you’ll have to shell out cash for each tire inflation as well as drive your car(s) to the local gas station or repair shop for filling.

Instead of dealing with all that hassle, inflate your tires at home with your very own tire inflator or air compressor. It’s easy and convenient, and you won’t have to leave your garage to get your car’s tires in good condition. You can also check your tires the night before a road trip and skip a trip to the gas station when you’re ready to hit the road.

Inflate more than just tires

Air compressors may be most commonly used on tires, but there are many other things that can benefit from the compressed air they provide. Keep your sports balls inflated at all times with an air compressor, so you’re always ready for a game of basketball, volleyball, football, and more. A deflated ball isn’t worth practicing and playing with, but having a compressor handy can help keep you on top of your game.

There is also more niche uses for air compressors, such as inflating balloons. You probably won’t be using air compressors outside of tires and balls, but it’s always good to know your options just in case.

How to use a car tire air pump

Step 1: Plug in the pump

To power your car tire air pump, you’ll first need to plug it into a power source. Car tire air pumps most commonly use your car’s outlet as a power source-- it has enough power for the pump to run efficiently, and your car outlet will likely be your only source of power while on the road anyway.

If you happen to have a car tire air pump that can be plugged into wall outlets, you may want to use that instead. Wall outlets provide better wattage, and you’ll get more juice from them than your typical car outlet.

Step 2: Insert the nozzle

With the hose connected to the compressor, plug the other end into your car’s tire via the nozzle. If you can’t see it properly, we recommend using your compressor’s included LED light (if it has one) or a flashlight instead.

Step 3: Start pumping

Now that everything’s in place, you can start the compressor. Depending on the type of compressor you’re using you may need to follow different instructions, but the general idea is to pay close attention to the pressure value shown in the gauge/display and stop once it reaches the ideal level.

For analog gauges and basic digital displays, this is the method you’ll want to follow. You’ll want to keep an eye on the gauge or display at all times, but feel free to look away and check on other things while waiting. Just make sure you’re always by the compressor, in case the cable pops out of either end or something else happens.

If you have a programmable digital compressor, you can instead set the desired pressure value first. After that, you can start the compressor and it should automatically stop once it reaches the pressure you initially set. This means you won’t need to look at the gauge at all, but you should still monitor the whole process, just to be safe.

Digital vs analog car tire air pumps

There’s not that big of a difference between analog and digital car tire air pumps. The main difference lies in the display, and they’re both fairly easy to understand. Digital displays do have the advantage of having special features (like programmable inflation), so if you’re interested in that you may want to go with digital over analog.

How much do car tire air pumps cost?

Car air compressors and tire pumps will set you back anywhere from $15 to $30, with some being slightly cheaper and some more expensive. You generally won’t have to spend more than $50 on a decent air compressor though, so try not to worry too much about the price.

Car Tire Air Pumps FAQs

Q: Are car tire air pumps safe?

Car tire air pumps are designed to be powered by and used for cars, so they’re completely safe, even if you’re on the side of the road.

Q: How do car tire air pumps work?

Car tire air pumps take in air from their surroundings and compress it. This compressed air is then funneled into the tire, inflating it until it’s full.

Q: Can car tire air pumps be used for balls?

With the right nozzle adapter, you can use car tire air pumps for sports balls, balloons, inflatable pools, and more.

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