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The Best Portable Tire Inflators on the Market

The Best Portable Tire Inflators on the Market

How did we choose our candidates?

To begin, we polled the editorial staffs of Car and Driver, Auto week, and Road & Track to determine which inflators our experts suggested. Then we looked on the internet to see which inflators ere the most popular, top sellers, and highly rated. Finally, we used our skills and automotive understanding to reduce the list to a reasonable 13.

We chose numerous brand names we know and trust, as well as a slew of best-selling off-brand compressors with (typically) cheaper pricing and (often) higher reviews, to ensure a balanced and impartial sampling of portable tire inflators. To showcase the many varieties of portable tire inflators on the market, we compiled a wide range of sizes, power, and designs. Finally, we purposefully avoided the abundance of tiny portable inflators that resemble gaming controllers or cellphones rather than air compressors.

Once we had our final tire inflator lineup, we put it through its paces to determine which ones stood out, which ones crushed the competition, and which ones left us wanting more. We also documented the entire procedure. (Editor's Note: The time-lapse GIF above is around two minutes long; that Milwaukee inflator is a BEAST.)

What to Look for in a Car Cordless Tyre Inflator

Portable tire inflators exist in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are essentially divided into two categories: portable devices and console units. The most crucial factor to consider when purchasing for a tire inflator is what you want to use it for.

Handheld tire inflators are ideal for keeping in your car in case of an emergency. A portable inflator should be compact and easy to operate. Look for a portable inflator with a work light for use at night, a digital gauge for precise readings and auto-shutoff, a clamp-style valve connector, and a 12-volt outlet to charge the device as needed.

Console units are suited for general home inflation as well as recreational inflation. automobile tires, sports balls, air beds for automobile camping, rafts, toys, and SUPs for fun enjoyment (inflatable kayak, anyone? Most have several power choices, many inflation attachments, and other functions that a handheld does not have. Some are even integrated into consoles alongside other gadgets like portable jump starters.

On the other side, consoles did not outperform handheld units in the one test that the Gear Team was most worried about: portable tire inflation. They all did the job, but the portable handheld machines we tested were consistently faster at tire inflation than the console compressors. Furthermore, most console devices are not "portable." Yes, you can pick them up and carry them around the house, as well as stow them in your car for holidays. But what about storing a console inflator in the car in case of an emergency? For most of us, it's out of the question.

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  • Qiang Ling
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