Best Air Compressor for Car Tires – (Reviews & Buying Guide 2018)

Having a flat tire on the side of the road with no service station nearby can be a real nightmare. That’s why having your own air compressor for car tires can be a lifesaver. They are small, easy to use and store, plus they can save you the cost of towing your car or truck because of a flat tire. We have chosen and researched a couple of models to put together a list to show the best air compressor for car tires. We’ve also included a buying guide to help you find the one that suits your needs.

Air Hawk PRO Air Compressor
  • Velocity Air Hawk PRO
  • 4.2 Customer Rating
  • PRICE: $
  • Size (inches): 3.50 x 11.50 x 9.00
  • Weight (pounds): 1,9
  • MAX PSI: 125
  • Warranty (years): 1
Q Industries SuperFlow HV-35 Air Compressor
  • Q Industries SuperFlow HV-35
  • 3.9 Customer Rating
  • PRICE: $
  • Size (inches): 7.51 x 9.01 x 4.25
  • Weight (pounds): 4,62
  • MAX PSI: 140
  • Warranty (years): 3
Bon-Aire Goodyear i3500 Air Compressor
  • Bon-Aire Goodyear i3500
  • 3.6 Customer Rating
  • PRICE: $
  • Size (inches): 7.3 x 7.1 x 3.9
  • Weight (pounds): 2,15
  • MAX PSI: 150
  • Warranty (years): 1
Kensun Model H Air Compressor
  • Kensun Model H
  • 4.2 Customer Rating
  • PRICE: $$
  • Size (inches): 10.2 x 4.7 x 7.8
  • Weight (pounds): 3,3
  • MAX PSI: 100
  • Warranty (years): 2

Best Car Tire Inflator Reviews

1. Air Hawk PRO

Velocity Air Hawk PRO Air compressorThis model is popular with users because of its small size. Even in the carry bag, the whole thing can fit into most glove boxes. The digital display shows all of the relevant information including PSI and provides additional visibility when inflating tires at night. This tool is very similar to the first one from our list but has a better warranty.

The compressor can handle a maximum of 125 PSI. The grip is ergonomic and doesn’t slip from your hand. The portable compressor can inflate a flat tire in 6 minutes, but the gauge isn’t always accurate when it comes to tire pressure.

The unit is covered by a 1-year warranty. This air compressor can handle any standard tires under 33 inches, and also all inflatable toys and balls. It is a good budget-friendly option to have in your car. You can use the compressor with the adapter, battery or car adapter which is all included, as well as 2 attachments for other inflation jobs.

Pros

  • Compact design and easy storage
  • Digital display and gauge
  • Quick inflation time

Cons

  • Plastic construction makes this model less durable
  • Gauge isn’t accurate 100% of the time

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2. Q Industries SuperFlow HV-35

Q Industries SuperFlow HV-35 Air CompressorThis particular model has a high max pressure with 140 PSI and is one of the best car tire inflator kits on the market. This unit comes with a 3-foot air hose and a 10-foot power cord that has a car lighter adapter.

This machine comes with a gauge that you would normally see on more expensive air compressors, despite its budget-friendly price. The compressor is less than 5 pounds in total weight. The kit comes with 2 nozzles, a ball needle, and a carry bag.

The compressor is covered by a 3-year limited warranty. You could use this air compressor for all standard tires under 33 inches and all kinds of inflatable toys, balls or bicycles.

Pros

  • Can handle up to 140 PSI
  • Light-weight compact design
  • 3-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Can’t handle tires over 30-inches
  • Short air hose
  • Standard work time before needing a break is only 10 minutes

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3. Bon-Aire Goodyear i3500

Bon-Aire Goodyear i3500 Air CompressorOur next tire inflator is a very budget-friendly model and one of the lightest on our list with 2.15 lbs. The max pressure that this compressor can handle is 150 PSI, which you may never end up using if you only inflate tires with it.

The compressor is an efficient inflation tool as it can inflate a flat tire to 28 PSI in 6 minutes. This model also includes a useful detachable lamp that is powered by AAA batteries once it is detached, or you can use a regular 12V power outlet.

The pressure gauge on the unit is very visible and makes reading the PSI easy. The kit comes with a needle and a nozzle. The compressor is covered by a 1-year warranty.

Pros

  • High max PSI (150) for this price range
  • Detachable lamp for added visibility at night

Cons

  • Design flaw in the screw-on connector makes it hard to unscrew from some tires
  • Air hose is sometimes stiff and not easy to handle

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4. Kensun Model H

Kensun Model H Air CompressorOur final product review comes from Kensun, sporting a stylish design and decent performance with a light-weight body of only 3.3 lbs. The gauge on this model can go up to 120 PSI, but try to avoid going to maximum pressure on any tire inflator because it causes the compressors to overheat quickly.

The unit comes with a wall socket and a car lighter connector for extra convenience. You can store the power cords, needle, and nozzle on the unit itself so you won’t lose them so easily. You can pack the whole thing into the durable carrying case that comes with the kit.

We tested the compressor to our satisfaction on multiple tires. The compressor can even inflate a full-sized trailer tire but it takes almost 20 minutes. The warranty covers the unit for 2 years.

Pros

  • Compact and user-friendly design
  • Can handle tires up to 35 inches
  • Accurate pressure gauge

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a battery
  • Takes a long time to inflate bigger tires

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Car Air Compressor Buying Guide

According to a report from the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US, annually there are around 11,000 injuries and 78,392 accidents due to flat tires. That is why you should always check your car tire pressure and inflate them.

With those numbers, it should be apparent to anyone why flat or underinflated tires pose a real risk to drivers everywhere. To make sure you buy the air compressor that suits your needs we have prepared a buying guide to go along with our car tire inflator reviews.

What to Look for in a Car Tire Air Compressor?

When purchasing your own air compressor, you need to know a few things to make sure you purchase something that will suit all of your needs. Here are just a few of the key characteristics that you need to keep your eye on.

1. Portability

When it comes to car air compressors, portability can mean a few things. Technically any portable air compressor can be used to inflate your tires, but how convenient they are is a different matter.

As the primary use of car air compressors is to handle tire emergencies at unpredictable times, you want to have something that is easy to use and find. Generally, the car models are designed to be under 5 pounds. The lighter models are also smaller in size and can be packed away in the glove compartment.

Also, you want to make sure that the kit you are buying comes with a carrying case so that you don’t lose track of your needles, hose and other assorted attachments.

2. Weight

Best Air Compressor for Car Tires WeightAir compressor weight can directly relate to the quality of air compressors. Very light-weight designs usually mean the tool was made from plastic. While all plastic air compressors aren’t bad, they usually can’t handle very long operating times. This is due to the plastic parts not being very effective in dealing with heat.

Most plastic air compressors can work around 10 minutes before needing to cool down, but some of them can run for 30 minutes as well. Also, lighter air compressors usually mean less power. That makes all inflation jobs run longer than they need to.

3. PSI

PSI or Pound-force per square inch defines how much pressure an air compressor can handle. For the purposes of car tire air compressors, this defines what tires can a compressor inflate. If you have tires that at full capacity have 100 PSI, and your compressor can handle a max of 120, you can expect an inflate time of around 15+ minutes.

Generally, you want your tool to have 30-50 PSI more than what you are trying to inflate, for shorter inflation time. The small, portable compressors are usually referred to as LPAC, or low-pressure air compressors because they don’t go over 150 PSI. The unit must be bigger to have a higher PSI capacity.

So, you can gain PSI but you lose portability. Before buying a car tire air compressor, make sure to know what pressure your tires have at a gas or service station, so you know what you need to buy.

4. Display

Displays on air compressors can be analog or digital. An analog display is usually just the gauge that shows you how much PSI there is in what you are currently trying to inflate. A digital display shows that same information but also gives you other options.

For example, newer air compressors come with an auto shut-off feature that will stop the compressor once it reaches a specific PSI level. Users tend to believe that analog displays are more accurate than digital displays, however, it usually comes down to the quality of the parts used in the air compressors.

5. Gauges

Gauges are a very important feature for air compressors. There is always a risk when using air compressors of any kind since you are using a machine that creates compressed air. If you have a faulty gauge you can over/underinflate your tires which as we know can lead to accidents on the road.

A faulty gauge can also cause an air compressor to not shut-off even if it has an auto shut-off feature. That can lead to damaging your tires on your bikes, motorcycles or even cars if the air compressors are powerful enough.

6. Attachments

Most air compressors come with an assortment of attachments to make your inflation tasks easier. Some of them are ball needles, nozzles, and all sorts of connectors for tires, air hoses, etc. There is an attachment for every purpose. If you plan on using the air compressor in your car. then make sure you also have a car lighter adapter so that you can charge it on the go.

If you plan to use the air compressor to inflate your bike, toys, balls, and other things, you need to check if the kit you are buying comes with the right attachments.

7. Cord Length

Car Tire Air Compressor Cord LengthThe length of your cord or air hose defines the maneuverability of your air compressor. You generally want a longer cord or at least a model that comes with a longer hose. It is important because you want to make sure you can reach all of the tires that need inflating.

This is especially true if your car tire air compressor is being powered by your motor or a car lighter, which limits how far you can move it.

8. Convenience

What it all comes down is convenience. The biggest difference in how much money you will invest in an air compressor is how much will you actually use it? If you need an air compressor for occasional use or emergencies, you could easily buy a cheaper model since it can handle a little stress.

But if you plan on using a compressor more often, then you would need to invest in a more expensive model. They are made from more durable materials and can handle prolonged use much better. Plus, they can also handle pumping up your tires at a faster rate than the cheaper ones.

Types of Air Compressors for Inflating Car Tires

When you are choosing your car air compressor, you may lose yourself with all of the different choices available to you. Don’t worry, we will define the most popular types of car tire air compressors so that you don’t get lost in the terminology. The main objective is to fill your car tires, of course, but it is also needed to decide on the type of your car air compressor.

1. Rechargeable

Like the name implies, all rechargeable air compressors come with a battery. These units are very useful in unexpected situations while traveling. They are meant for multiple uses but not for prolonged use. The performance of these compressors can vary depending on the size of the battery and the power of the compressor.

It’s nice to see a rechargeable car tire air compressor in action.

An average rechargeable air compressor can inflate two completely flat tires with one full charge and that’s it. You can also use it to check and adjust all 4 of your tires if they aren’t missing a lot of pressure.

There are also more expensive and bigger models that have tanks. The trade-off is that you get a lot more potential power and could handle the wheels of more than one car, but then the unit is heavier.

Another useful feature is that rechargeable compressors for car tires come with a charger and other adapters. If your battery is dead, you can charge it with your car lighter adapter. Also, you can use the compressor by powering it directly with the car to reinflate your tire.

They also sometimes come with a light or a detachable light source to help drivers do emergency maintenance at night.

2. Cordless

Cordless air compressors for tires can be compact or big models. It depends on the type of power source. Technically a rechargeable air compressor is what you call a cordless air compressor, they just need to be the type that doesn’t use electric cords to work. But, by this logic, gas-powered air compressors also fall into this category.

Just because they are gas powered, doesn’t mean that they have to be very heavy, on the contrary, some smaller models can be very portable. Also, cordless air compressors usually come with a tank which means that you have more power and more options. You could inflate your tires and use some air tools for some basic car maintenance.

3. Wireless

The term “wireless” is also something you can come across while searching for a solution for your car air compressors. But don’t be fooled, it doesn’t mean what you think it does. Wireless is used to describe both rechargeable and cigarette lighter air compressors.

Wireless air compressors are also used as a form of car suspension, not for tire inflation. These machines are installed under the car and placed in such manner so that they can elevate or drop the level of the car. Once you mount the device and air tanks, you connect it to your car battery for power. The kit is controlled via a remote.

4. Cigarette Lighter

Next is the popular choice of cigarette lighter air compressors. These machines are light and compact. They get power with an adapter for your car’s cigarette lighter. They can handle reinflating a car tire but it may take some time if it is completely flat.

These models can come with a battery, but don’t have to, necessarily. A lot of models that are battery-powered can’t be used without the battery. If you are interested in this type of air compressor and want to find out more, you can check out our reviews and buying guide for 12V air compressors.

These models can often be more powerful and durable than rechargeable air compressors since they have a constant power supply. They can also come equipped with a flashlight to help you with late night car maintenance if you get stranded in the middle of the road.

5. Automobile Battery

As you might have figured out by now, we can power air compressors in numerous ways, and one of the ways is directly from the car battery. These models have a wider range than the previous groups because the car battery can offer a steady flow of power.

Car battery-powered units can be small air pumps used for emergencies, or they can even be portable air compressors with tanks. Their uses range from inflating tires to using air tools for intermediate car maintenance.

Their price range also goes from very budget-friendly to expensive, because of the very different options that are available in this group.

ProductSize
(inches)
Weight
(pounds)
Max PSIWarranty
(years)
ONTEL Air Hawk Pro3.50 x 11.50 x 9.001.9125180 days-1y
Q Industries SuperFlow HV-357.51 x 9.01 x 4.254.621403
Velocity Air Hawk PRO3.50 x 11.50 x 9.001.91251
Bon-Aire Goodyear i35007.3 x 7.1 x 3.92.151501
Kensun Model H10.2 x 4.7 x 7.83.31002

Wrap Up

People buy air compressors for their cars mainly as an insurance policy against flat tires in unexpected situations. They can also be used to pump up balls, small toys, a bike or a motorcycle. If you are choosing one for yourself make sure to get one with plenty of attachments and needles so that you are able to handle any inflation job no matter the circumstances.

Also, make sure to check the pressure that your tires need to have so that your air compressor can inflate them efficiently. We hope that our unbiased post about the best car air compressor will help you with your purchase. If we have skipped something, or you have further questions, please feel free to leave a comment and we will readily reply.