You’re driving along, minding your own business when you hear that dreaded, thud, thud, thud. You know that sounds and you know it means trouble. Yep, you’ve got yourself a flat tire.
Let’s face it, flat tires never happen at a convenient time. They usually happen when you’re running late for an appointment or you’re driving along a not so frequented road in the middle of the night. Sure, you’ve probably got a spare tire and a jack in your car, but time is of the essence and you want to be on your way fast.
That’s when a tire inflator can be your best friend. These marvels work fast at getting your tire back into a drivable shape. Of course, the effect may not be long-lasting, but at least you should be able to get to where you need to be and you can then take care of the tire in a more commendable manner. The best tire inflators are easy to use and should have you on your way again in a matter of minutes. We’ve put together a selection of tire inflators to get your driving again.
The Best Tire Inflator
Never let yourself be stranded at the side of the road again with this EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump. All you need to do is plug this automatic tire inflator into your car’s cigarette lighter socket and you’re ready to go. It includes all the adapters you need to inflate car tires, bicycle tires as well as basketballs, footballs, etc. It features a handy digital display that indicates PSI, KPA, BAR & KG/CM and also includes an LED flashlight. This is a must-have for your car in any situation.
Convenient to use
Four different display units
Prevents over-inflation by turning off itself once desired tire pressure is reached
Useful for different applications
- Weight1 pound
Plug directly into Cigarette Lighter Socket
Inflate anything from tires to basketballs and more
Includes additional adapters for balls, bicycles, etc.
Not suitable for heavy trucks
This FORTEM Digital Tire Inflator is just as important to keep in your car as a first aid kit because it literally is a first aid kit for your car. A flat tire can happen anywhere at any time and with a portable tire inflator like this one, you’ll be able to get moving again fast. The convenient, compact design and large easy to read digital display will tell you exactly how much air you need to pump into your tires. The extra-long power cord will easily reach any of your tires and quickly inflate them enough for your car to be drivable again. For more useful tools to have in your vehicle, check out our selection of the best timing lights.
In-built LED flashlight tor night-time operation
Useful for balls, air mattresses and so on
Easy to use
This device doesn’t need an external power source
- Weight1.9 pounds
Easy to use & store
Compatible with all vehicles with a DC-12V power output
Motor is noisy
Deal with that flat tire quickly and efficiently with this Avid Power Tire Inflator Air Compressor. This is a great inflator to have on hand in your car for those emergency situations when you get an unexpected flat. You’ll get lots of use out of this tire inflator as you can use it for more than just your car. Use it to pump up those air mattresses when overnight guests come. You can also deflate with this model making it great for camping. It features an easy to read digital display gauge and multiple nozzles multiply the uses. Our guide to the best tire changers features more must-have products for your vehicle.
LCD digital display for working in the night
Dual-metal motors that pump air faster
Useful for different types of car tires
Automatically shuts down once desired PSI for the tire is reached
- BrandAvid Power
- Weight5.75 pounds
Power via wall socket or cigarette lighter
Use to quickly inflate or deflate
Can be slow to inflate
The dual solid metal motors of this Kensun Portable Air Compressor Pump provide you with fast, efficient inflation when you need to take care of your flat tire. It has AC/DC so you can use it in the home or keep it in your car for emergencies. There are also adapters for balls and other inflatables. It features an easy to read, large classic tire pressure gauge so you can ensure correct pressure for all your needs. Keep this handy device in your car and get another one for your home.
Dual-metal motors provide more power and pump faster than other tire inflators
Large and bright pressure gauge that’s easy to see
Made with high-quality materials that last
Can be used with a home outlet or the cigarette socket in your car
- Weight5 pounds
Easy to read analog pressure gauge
Multipurpose for use at home, camping or car
When you need to inflate a flat tire, you want to be able to do so fast. With this VacLife Air Compressor Tire Inflator, you can quickly plug this marvel into your cigarette lighter socket and get the air back into your tire. This car air pump is easy to use and has an accurate digital display with an auto shut off when the correct PSI is reached. It also has an 11-foot power cord that is enough to reach all of your tires with ease. Having a flat tire at night is hard so this one also comes with a built-in LED light. Use it to inflate or deflate car tires and other inflatables with this lightweight, compact unit. You may also be interested in some of the best wheel and tire cleaners.
Accurate digital display
Auto shut off when correct PSI reached
3 additional nozzles for multiple uses
11-foot long power cord
Lightweight and portable
Plugs into cigarette lighter socket
- Weight2.41 pounds
Easy to use
LED Light for Emergencies
Use to inflate or deflate
Not suitable for larger vehicles
For complete simplicity, this TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor is a gem. You can plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter or a wall plug in your home to inflate your car tires, sporting equipment, and air mattresses. It features an auto-off function so you can set your PSI and know this tire pump will stop when the required inflation level is reached. It also has a digital display and an LED light making it perfect for night time emergencies. You’ll love the portable design that also comes with a carrying bag for added convenience. Be sure to also check out our guide to the best car battery testers for more quality products for your car.
AC/DC with 12V car cigarette light plug
110/120V wall plug for home outlet
Up to 150 PSI
Digital display and LED lighting
Portable design with carrying bag
- Weight3.15 pounds
Set of additional nozzles included
Not suitable for truck tires
A great tire inflator with gauge is what you get when you have this Helteko Portable Air Compressor Pump on hand. It is made from durable ABS plastic and stainless steel so you can be sure you have a strong inflator that has been built to last. It also has auto shut off to minimize the risk of over-inflating your tires. The fast, snap-on connector and quick inflation will have you on your way again fast and the digital LCD display and emergency LED light will be a source of comfort and security for night time emergencies. This model also comes with additional nozzles that are great for other inflatables so never leave on a camping trip without this tire inflator. You may also be interested in some of the best power inverters for cars from our list, so be sure to check them out.
Made from durable ABS plastic and stainless steel
Auto shut off & fast inflating speed
Fast, snap-on connector
Digital LCD display & emergency LED light
Display Unit: PSI, KPA, BAR, KG / CM²
Long strong cable
- Weight2.58 pounds
3 additional nozzles
Includes convenient storage bag
Not suitable for truck tires
This easy to carry and use a portable air compressor is a must for those who are out on the road. The WindGallop Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator Air Pump for Car is fast and easy to use with a digital LED display screen and an accurate pressure valve. You can preset your PSI and with auto shut off, you can be sure the inflator will stop when your tire is adequately inflated. It also has a high-speed cooling feature to prolong the life of your tire inflator. Keep this in your car when you go camping, hiking or just find yourself driving at night. For more essential products for your car, check out our selection of the best tire repair kits.
Digital tire compressor and pump
Digital LED display screen
Accurate pressure valve
Long-lasting LED light
Preset PSI with auto shut off
- Weight2.05 pounds
Fast and easy to use
High-speed cooling for prolonged product life
More powerful with less noise
Not suitable for larger vehicles
The best emergency devices are those with multiple uses and this Breezz Air Compressor is a pressure gauge, inflator, and flashlight in one. It is strong and powerful for fast inflation and you can preset the PSI with auto shut off for added assurance of not over-inflating your tire. It features a digital display and LED lighting and with 3 additional adapters, you can use it in the home for various applications as well. The compact, space-saving design makes this inflator easy to carry and even easier to store. Don’t forget to also check out our guide to the best car jump starters for more useful products to have in your car.
3 in 1 – pressure gauge, inflator, flashlight
Strong power for fast inflation
Preset PSI with auto shut off
Digital display and LED lighting
3 additional adapters
- ModelAir Compressor Pump
- Weight2.4 pounds
Multipurpose for use at home or in car
Compact, space-saving convenience
Includes emergency light
Works for 10 minutes before needing to cool down
Tire Inflator Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In A Tire Inflator
Choosing the right tire inflator will most likely depend on when and where you intend on using it. There are a number of features that are similar in all tire inflators, however, some also have features that may be of more benefit to you. Some of the more important features to look for in a tire inflator include:
Portability – Your tire inflator should be as mobile as you are so portability is a must. Look for a tire inflator that is light enough to take with you anywhere, yet compact enough to take a minimal amount of space in the storage compartment of your car. Portability is also a key feature if you plan on using the tire inflator for more than just inflating tires. Sports enthusiasts will find them handy to inflate basketballs, footballs, etc. Dads with kids playing sport will find a portable tire inflator a major convenience for training or game day. Then too, are the campers. If you’ve ever tried to inflate an air mattress you know how much fun it is not. A portable tire inflator will be a great emergency device for a flat tire, but also invaluable for campers and those involved in many sports.
Max PSI – Before you consider choosing a tire inflator you need to understand how PSI works. PSI stands for “pounds per square inch” and it refers to the pressure in your tires. Most passenger cars tires range from 30 – 40 PSI and obviously, the larger the vehicle and tires, the more PSI. Aim to have a tire inflator with a maximum PSI of about 50 so that you can use it for a variety of tires and other applications. Keep in mind though, that just because your tires may have a Max PSI of 40, doesn’t mean you should inflate your tires to that level. When you over-inflate tires, less of their surface area is on the road which is not desirable. Check your car’s specifications for the best PSI for the types of tires on your car. Many tire inflators will boast a Max PSI of over 100, but you will rarely need to go this high, especially with a normal passenger car.
Analog/Digital – The gauge of a tire inflator is one of the most important features as it indicates the pressure in your tires as you are inflating them. While an analog gauge is simple and easy to read, some people prefer to choose a digital gauge. Both are accurate but digital gauges offer more information. The question to ask is if you want or need to know all the additional readings. There is a benefit to choosing a digital tire inflator and that is that many of them have an auto-shutoff feature. This eliminates the need to keep your eye on the gauge as you can preset the PSI you want for your tires and the tire inflator will automatically turn itself off when the desired PSI is reached.
Temperature Limiter – We all know tires are made of rubber and that this material reacts differently depending on the temperature. This also means it may be difficult to inflate your tires, even with an accurate PSI gauge. The ambient temperature can give you a different reading so a good tire inflator should also have a temperature limiter. This feature is able to take the ambient temperature into account to determine the best optimal PSI for your tires.
Cool Down – Inflating tires can take a strain on the motor of many tire inflators and with some you may need to play the waiting game. The motor of the tire inflator may become quite hot and this means you will need to wait for it to cool down before you use it again. If your tire inflator has its own built-in cool down feature, this will only take a few minutes. Otherwise, you could be in for a long wait between uses. This may be quite considerable if you live in a hot region of the world. Some tire inflators only have a short working cycle before they need to be cooled, while others can operate for a considerable length of time before needing a break. Check for both single operating time and cooling down period before choosing the right tire inflator for yourself.
Inflate Time – Anyone who has experienced a flat tire will tell you that they always seem to happen when you have the least amount of time to deal with them. Imagine running late for work or an important meeting and being greeted with a flat tire. Or you’re on your way and you suddenly realize you have a flat. This can be monumentally frustrating. Some tire inflators work faster than others so if you’re one of those people who is always rushing around, you want your tire in drivable condition fast. Check the specifications for the inflate time so you know how long the tire inflator will take to get you moving again.
Tire Inflator FAQ
Q: How do I find the PSI of my tires?
A: The most obvious place to find the PSI of your tires is in the owner’s manual. However, most people tend to keep these in a drawer in their homes and tend to throw them out when they sell their cars. This often means when you buy a used car, it may not come with an owner’s manual. The next best place to look is in the door jam of your car, under the hood or on the door of the fuel tank. You’ll find a good deal of information and specifications about your car and the PSI is one of them.
Q: How do I check the PSI of my tires?
A: Checking the PSI of your tires is relatively easy, especially if you have a tire inflator with you. The first thing you need to do is find the recommended PSI of your tires. The average range for sedans would be a PSI of 27 to 32. Once you have that information, remove the cap from the valve of your tire. You will then place the air pressure gauge over the valve, making sure it fits snugly over the valve. The PSI of the tire should be showing regardless of whether the gauge is analog or digital. Most tire inflators double as gauges so you will be able to inflate or deflate your tires to achieve the optimal PSI. Once you’ve checked the PSI of your tires, replace the valve cap.
Q: How do I inflate my tires safely?
A: Before you do anything with your car tires, make sure you are safe. If you are at home in your garage or driveway, you should be quite safe. However, if you need to inflate your tires on a public road, make sure your car is not obstructing traffic. Move as far to the side of the road as you can or turn into a side street with less traffic, if that’s possible of course. If you have a safety hazard triangle in your car, set it up some distance in front of your car so oncoming traffic can be alerted to a problem ahead.
Once you are certain you can inflate your tire safely, bring out your tire inflator and set is up as per the instruction manual. The first thing to do is to check the PSI of your tire. Preselect the desired PSI and following the instruction manual, start inflating your tire. Once you are done, quickly and safely pack up your tire inflator and retrieve your safety hazard triangle (if you set it ahead of traffic). Return to your car and safely drive away.
A tire inflator is a crucial piece of equipment to have in your car at all times for the simple reason that it can get you moving fast in the event of a flat tire. While you may be able to call for roadside assistance, this can often take hours to arrive and no one likes to be stranded, especially on a lonely road at night. If you don’t already have a tire inflator, the bow is a great time to consider choosing one from our selection.