Best Portable Air Compressors for Car Tires

Maintaining the air pressure on your car’s tires is extremely important to the longevity of your tires, and it affects the overall experience of driving your car. However, it’s the most overlooked part of car maintenance.

Without proper air pressure, your tires will quickly become damaged by the roads that you drive on, and you’ll feel the bumps and holes in the asphalt a lot more. You might think that you can rely on the large air compressors outside of gas stations and convenience stores. However, that’s not true. What happens when you wake up in the morning, and you see that your car has a nearly flat tire? You obviously can’t drive it to a gas station safely.

That’s where portable air compressors shine. They’re not as powerful as the air compressors that you’d find at an automotive shop or a gas station, but they’re perfect for keeping your car’s tires properly inflated on the go.

In this guide, we’ll go over the best portable air compressors on the market. We’ll discuss their pros, their cons, and the fancy technical specifications in a way that’s easily understandable.

Portable Tire Inflator Reviews

The following reviews are for the best portable tire inflators on the market. We’ve searched for the best quality air compressors possible, and this guide is the result of that search. Each of these portable air pumps have their own pros and cons. Some can inflate a tire to a higher PSI, and some trade power for convenience. You can take your time reading each of these in-depth reviews, and then you can decide which air pump is the best choice for you.

Please note that all of these units are available for online purchase. So, you can order any of the items on this list without even leaving your house.

Viair 88P Portable Air Compressor

This Viair model is renowned for its quick use and extremely long reach. It’s powered by your car’s battery. So, you shouldn’t have any issues powering this portable air compressor, either.

The 88P manages to pack a decent amount of power into a medium sized air compressor. It can easily fill tires that up to 32 inches in size, and it can reach a maximum PSI of 120. This increases its potential for use on vehicles outside of small cars. Consumers frequently boast that they can properly manage the air pressure on everything from small sedans to large mini vans.

The power of the Viair 88P also allows it to minimize overheating issues. With a lot of portable air pumps, users have to stop mid-inflation because of overheating. That’s not a problem with the Viair 88P.

It does all of this while maintaining a relatively small profile. You shouldn’t have any problems storing the Viair 88P in your vehicle. Also, the air gauge is located on top of the unit. So, you don’t have to fuss around with the unit to see how much air you’ve put into your tires.

The major drawback to using the 88P doesn’t actually involve the unit. Viair is known for making very high quality products, and the 88P is no different. However, the company has a less than savory repair policy. While you shouldn’t experience any issues with the 88P, the company demands that users pay for any return shipping, and they don’t guarantee repairs. They individually review each product that is sent in for repairs. If they don’t believe that repairs are necessary, they simply ship the unit back.

Kensun EHRComp A58A Portable Tire Inflator

This Kensun A58A is perfect for people that don’t want to fuss with their air compressor much. It’s extremely light, it’s profile is very small, and it has enough power to inflate most tires. You won’t be inflating a semi’s tires with this portable air pump, but you can reasonably expect it to handle cars and smaller trucks.

Kensun really embraced modern technology with this model. The A58A portable air compressor is one of the top rated air compressors that uses LCD screens, digital gauges, and it includes an LED light for working in the dark. It’s fully programmable, too. You can program exact PSI that you want a car tire to be inflated to, and the A58A will shut off when that PSI is reached.

However, the Kensun A58A isn’t the best model for really extensive jobs. It can handle tires that are up to 31 inches, but it’s a lot slower than the stronger air compressors on this list.

Another thing to look out for with the A58A is its lack of reach. An extension cord is almost a necessity with this unit. You should be able to easily reach all of your car tires if you use your car’s cigarette lighter for power, but longer distances will require an extension cord and an external power outlet.

That being said, this is the perfect unit for more casual air compressor users, and it’s great for smaller cars.

Viair 85P Portable Air Compressor

The Viair 85P is basically a downsized version of the 88P. It looks almost identical, and it has the same general features. That being said, it has half of the power of the 88P. The max PSI of this portable air pump is a little on the low side. It maxes out at 60 PSI.

With that being said, it also has a solid reputation. Despite its lack of power, it’s known to air up tires much faster than the Kensun A58A, and it has the same quality as all of the other air pumps that the Viair brand makes.

The cord and hose length is a bit shorter than what’s on the 88P, but they’re still long enough to properly reach most tires. Sometimes, an extension is necessary to reach the rear tires on long cars, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This forces the use of a battery adapter, and the battery adapter lowers the chance of short circuiting the pump.

In general, this is a great pump for people that want Viair quality without all of the power of the 88P. The only major drawback is the same poor quality repair policy as other Viair products, and that may be slightly more of an issue with this air pump due to the higher likelihood of shorting a fuse. However, this is still a top rated portable air compressor, and it’s considered to be one of the best air pumps on the market. So, the repair policy still isn’t much of an issue.

Bostitch BTFP02012

This Bostitch model is one of the beefiest air compressors that can still be called portable. It’s best to use as a garage compressor, but it’s not so large that it’s impossible to take with you.

It also boasts the highest maximum PSI capabilities. The Bostitch can reach PSI levels of 150. This allows it to quickly inflate tires that the other compressors on this list would struggle with. On top of that, it’s maintenance free due to its pancake design. You don’t have to deal with oiling the machine, and replacing parts should be a non-issue.

As an added bonus, other users have successfully adapted the Bostitch for home improvement projects that aren’t related to tires. The increased airflow of the Bostitch makes it more than capable of operating up to two different air powered tools at one time.

The only real con to using the Bostitch is its size. This is definitely an air compressor that is best used as a garage compressor that isn’t traveled with very often. That being said, it fulfills that role admirably, and there is a reason this is one of the best rated 150 PSI air compressors on the market.

EPAuto AT-010-1Z Portable Air Pump

This air pump from EPAuto is a great general purpose option. It’s not large, it has a light built in for nighttime use, it maxes out at 100 PSI, it shuts off automatically when it gets too hot, and it has a very fast fill time when it’s set to 45 PSI or less.

The gauge on the EPAuto pump is digital, and it’s viewed by an LCD screen for easy reading. With the max PSI topping out at 100, this model is more than capable of servicing larger vehicles, and it’ll inflate the tires of smaller vehicles with ease.

With it being such a well rounded option, you’d think that there wouldn’t be any cons. However, that’s not the case. The EPAuto is a lot more fragile than the other units on this list, and you have to follow the instructions properly. A lot of consumers have complained about receiving defective units, too. However, EPAuto has been quick to replace any units that are sent back.

Common Questions About Portable Air Compressors For Cars

In this section, we’ll go over the most commonly asked questions about portable air compressors.

When it comes to outfitting your car with proper maintenance gear, a highly rated jack and air pump are the two items that should top your list. Gas stations are starting to get rid of their air stations. So, it’s not a good idea to rely on them in emergencies.

With portable air pumps growing in popularity, you might have a few questions about them. We’ve searched for the most commonly asked question, and put the answers here. Hopefully, this can help you figure out anything that you need to know.

How Do I Use A Portable Tire Inflator?

Using a portable air compressor on your car isn’t difficult at all. You simply plug the unit’s power supply in to the power source that it’s built for, connect it to your tire like any other compressor, and turn it on. Most units have an easy to use switch, but you’ll have to check the user manual for your specific unit. Don’t worry. It’s not a hard task to accomplish.

Also, keep track of the air gauge. While most of the units on this list are outfitted with safety features, we can’t speak for units we didn’t review. You do not want to over inflate your tires.

Should I get A Bigger Air Compressor Instead?

The size of compressor that you need is based on the tires you use, and the frequency that you plan to use your compressor for is also a factor. If you just want a simple compressor to throw in your car for emergencies, you don’t need anything bigger than the medium sized units we listed here. You can probably get away with the smaller units if your car isn’t overtly large.

However, you need a larger compressor if you plan to do a lot of work with it, or if your vehicle is very large. The Bostitch is a great option for heavy duty uses, but you’ll need a larger one if your work exceeds what the Bostitch can do.

Will A Portable Air Compressor Inflate My Truck Tires?

If your truck is on the smaller size, most of the units we listed will work just fine. However, you probably want to go with a larger option if you’re driving a massive truck. It’s all about being realistic. You can’t expect an air compressor with a maximum PSI of 60 to inflate a semi tire.

My Car Tire Won’t Inflate. What’s The Problem?

The most common answers to this question have to do with an improper seal and punctures. If the bead of your tire has been moved, you can use a floor jack to alleviate pressure on the tire. Then, your tire should inflate normally. You can also have the tire resealed at the rim by a professional. That’s a fairly cheap service. So, it’s not a big deal.

Punctures are a bigger problem. If alleviating pressure on your tire doesn’t seem to work, you probably have a puncture. Try spraying the tire with soapy water. If you notice bubbles forming in one specific area, your tire is punctured. You can repair this with repair kits, or you can take the tire to a shop to have it repaired. Regardless of what you decide to do, the tire will eventually need a proper replacement.

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