Best Air Compressors

Reviews & Buying Guide

Air compressor for a car is an essential attribute of preparing every driver for incidental situations on the road. Unfortunately, even expensive tires do not protect you from puncture. When faced with a flat tire, it is not always possible to put on a spare tire or waste time waiting for the saviors.

Checking the tire pressure should be natural for drivers just as looking at the fuel needle because the tire air pressure has a significant influence on driving behavior and vehicle safety. Incorrect pressure leads to excessive wear, higher fuel consumption, and can cause tire damage. You don't necessarily have to look for a petrol station with a tire inflation device for the check - tire pressure monitors and handy compressed air tire inflators as compressor accessories are already available inexpensively at home. So, we have shortlisted best air compressors available in the market.


Best Air Compressors


Air compressor

This air compressor comes with enough airflow and a powerful motor. The LCD screen shows the pressure while built-in cutoff to avoid over inflation. A variety of nozzle adapters are available as per need.

It also features built-in overheat protection because the compressors usually get hot during operation, and continuous operation may increase the temperature above the limit. This overheating can even burn the internal parts. So EP auto protects itself with built-in cutoff to avoid overheating.

Key features:

  • Cutoff at the desired pressure
  • Overheat protection
  • Built-In LED display

Pros:

  • Connects with cigarette lighter socket
  • Cutoff for overheat protection

Cons:

  • No adapter for a wall socket

This portable compressor is a smart digital tire compressor that will give you the hassle of first filling your tires with the correct air pressure. It inflates tires automatically based on the settings you set. Experts also highlight the automatic shutdown function, which increases the safety of use. The car air pump will automatically shut off when the required pressure is reached, which will also prevent over inflation.

Helteko air compressor pump is made of durable and weather-resistant materials, including stainless steel and ABS plastic, which allows it to be used for a long time. Despite heavy use, you can count on this tire pump to last longer than the rest.

It is compact and contained in a storage case, and everything is fixed well inside the case. It is larger and slightly heavier than other models, but on the other side, you get a more powerful motor to inflate the tire in 3-5 minutes.

There are many nozzle attachments available with this tire inflator to inflate items other than tires like balls, bike tires, and lawnmower tires. It is a durable and reliable option because it is made up of high-grade plastic and stainless steel. This model already comes with a pressure gauge to keep your attention in an emergency. You can count on this model that's also lightweight and compact for easy portability.

Overall, this off-road portable air compressor is a worthy choice because it has all the design elements and features that make it reliable and worth the investment. On the other hand, its digital LCD appears to be too bright.

Key features:

  • Auto shut off
  • LCD screen
  • High-quality plastic and stainless steel

Pros:

  • Durable and reliable
  • Compact
  • Connects with cigarette lighter socket

Cons:

  • No adapter for a wall socket

Air compressor

This tool is cordless battery operated but does not come with a battery and 12V cigarette lighter charging cable. So you will have to buy the battery separately.

However, it is a versatile tool and can be used to inflate car tires and air pools and balls. Also, it is user friendly due to its lightweight of 1.5 pounds and one-handed operation mode.

This model does not come with a battery and cigarette lighter charging cord, so it cannot help you in an emergency unless you keep the batteries with you all the time in the car.

Key features:

  • LED light
  • Backlit LCD
  • Auto shutoff

Pros:

  • User-friendly design
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • No batteries included in the package

Air compressor

This air compressor is for those who own large vehicles like SUVs or trucks. It can be used for small vehicles as well. It is capable of filling the large tires quite quickly. It is faster and quieter and can fill the tire in a shorter time compared to other brands.

On the downside, it doesn't have an auto-shutoff and LCD for pressure readings, but it offers an analog gauge on the top.

Key features:

  • Larger capacity
  • Quick filling

Pros:

  • Can fill up tires to 31" diameter
  • Quieter with large capacity

Cons:

  • No digital gauge
  • No auto-shutoff

air compressor

The Kensun Tire Inflator offers unique versatility, making it suitable for use on bicycles, sports balls, and motorcycles. It can also be used for home use with an AC outlet. You can also use it easily in your car cigarette lighter socket. Experts recommend the model because it includes nozzles that make it ideal for inflating many types of equipment.

However, you can use it for many indoor or outdoor situations. You can also count on accurate pressure measurements. It features dual operating modes. If you want to own a compressor to use in your home and use it in your car, it is the right option. It can be operated by a 12V DC socket or 110V AC wall socket.

However, there is no auto-shutoff feature, and the filling speed is also relatively slow. But the benefit of using it through AC/DC source is hard to beat. The price is also relatively high due to this feature, and if you don't want to use an air compressor at home, then other options are better due to less price.

Key features:

  • AC/DC input
  • Home and outdoor use

Pros:

  • Multi-purpose
  • 12V DC & 110V AC input

Cons:

  • No auto shut off feature
  • No digital gauge

Important characteristics of a best air compressor

Some of these characteristics can be found in the compressor manual, some you will have, as they say, to determine by feel.

Performance:

It's not just the speed at which the compressor will sufficiently pump your tires. When pumping a completely flat wheel that has fallen off the hump, you may face that a compressor of insufficient capacity simply cannot compensate for air leaks, and the bead will not be able to settle into place.

Connection type:

As we understood in the previous paragraph, we need a powerful compressor, which, in turn, requires a powerful motor. Accordingly, energy consumption will also increase. So you should be skeptical about the models plugged into the cigarette lighter socket - either their declared power is the same as on the packaging, or the constant replacement of blown fuses will become inevitable. Connecting the auto compressor with crocodiles directly to the battery is the best option, but only if your car does not need to disassemble half of the car to access the terminals.

Cord Length:

Perhaps the biggest disappointment in a car compressor is that the cord length is simply not enough to reach the rear wheels of the car. In addition to the length of the cord, evaluate its rigidity - with forceful stretching, a rigid twisted cord will pull the plug or "crocodiles" out of place, a conventional cable is preferable, although it is not so convenient to store.

Gauge Accuracy:

It is difficult to assess the accuracy of the reading without a reference gauge, so pay attention first to how well the gauge scale is readable. On small pressure gauges, the needle can easily overlap the divisions - a run-up in the pressure of up to 0.2 bar between different wheels will be inevitable. Try to avoid double-digitized pressure gauges: you don't have to set the pressure in pounds per square inch (psi), and the additional scale will interfere.

Duration of continuous operation:

This parameter should be evaluated in conjunction with performance. For example, if you have an SUV or crossover on high-profile 16-inch tires, a low-power compressor will not only pump the wheels for a long time but also overheat.

In addition to the main functional selection criteria, it is worth considering the presence of additional functions that will significantly facilitate the compressor's operation. The following options are considered a priority:

Pressure gauge:

Each compressor is equipped with such a device; however, modifications of devices with a digital, more accurate pressure meter are considered preferable.

Automatic air cutoff.

This function allows you not to stand near the car throughout the entire process of inflating the wheels. The compressor will turn off itself when the tire pressure reaches normal values.

Bleed valve:

The presence of a valve for bleeding excess air from the tire. This function will reduce the wheels pressure, if such a need arose, for example, when driving on a highway with a different surface.

Thermostat:

The thermostat is a module that protects the compressor from overheating. The compressor should be modified with such a module - this will significantly extend the unit's life.

Additional attachments:

The presence of additional adapters will allow the purchased compressor to be used not only for its intended purpose, for inflating wheels, but also for other products, for example, it will enable inflating a ball or an air mattress.


Advantages and disadvantages of portable compressors

The first question you should ask yourself is whether a portable compressor is the best option for your purposes. Whether the purchase of a portable model is worthwhile for you depends, of course, on your requirements.

A portable model is ready for use very quickly, easy to transport and store, which means you can use it practically anytime, anywhere. Small models are particularly ideal for smaller tasks such as filling balls, bicycle tubes or blowing out the dust on construction sites.  But those who rely on high pressure for demanding tasks will quickly reach their limits with a portable compressor. You can also inflate car tires if you choose right type and capacity of air compressor.

Impact wrenches, for example, can not be operated well with a portable compressor due to their low performance. Also, air delivery power is usually not sufficient to operate compressed air tools at full potential. Therefore, tightening wheel nuts or inflating truck tires should never be expected from a small portable compressor.


Air compressor with or without a cylinder?

The best portable compressor for your purposes should only be a model that meets your requirements. A crucial criterion here is the question of the Cylinder. It is essential to understand that the air pressure can only be regulated if a Cylinder is available. It is because a compressor with a Cylinder takes a little time to build up the maximum possible pressure in the Cylinder. Only when this has been reached can the corresponding pressure be called up and used.

Compressors with a Cylinder are more massive, less mobile, and heavier than a compressor without a Cylinder. Another disadvantage of a compressor with a Cylinder is that it has to be freed from condensation timely so that it does not rust, and water splashes do not come out of the valve.

In contrast, a mobile compressor without a Cylinder is tiny and handy so that it can be carried anywhere. The maximum air pressure is immediately available since no pressure has to be built up. However, the pressure cannot be regulated accordingly, as is the case with the Cylinder. Since they are entirely maintenance-free, they are easy to use.


Tire Pressure FAQ's

Why is the correct tire pressure so important?

Low tire pressure:

Insufficient tire pressure on the car harms the driving characteristics. The vehicle may then be less stable, react to steering movements with a delay, brake more poorly, and have less grip. The latter can be particularly important when driving on wet roads and lead to dangerous driving situations, such as when aquaplaning. It leads to increased fuel consumption and avoidable environmental pollution. Due to the enlarged contact surface and the stronger rolling resistance, a sometimes considerably increased tire wear may occur.

It can also cause the tires to heat up excessively while driving and thus lose their real properties or even be severely damaged and tends to cause mechanical damage more often as the tire deforms more.

High tire pressure:

Too high tire pressure on the car, due to the smaller contact area, the tire can build up less cornering forces in curves. It harms driving comfort. In addition to the chassis of the vehicle, the tire also takes part in the damping.

Therefore, the following can apply: the higher the pressure, the more the driver and passengers perceive uneven road surfaces. Due to the lack of damping by the tires, the result is higher stress on the chassis components.

How to measure tire pressure correctly?

Air has the property to expand with increasing temperatures and to contract with decreasing values. The tire pressure, therefore, varies depending on the temperature of the tires and the environment. 

Therefore, the air pressure should not be checked when the tires are very hot. It is often the case after long journeys, for example. In these cases, the tire pressure usually appears too high or higher than the actual measured value when it has cooled down.

To check the air pressure of cars and motorcycles, so-called tire testers or tire testers, as well as individual tire inflation gauges, such as those found at almost every petrol station, are suitable. The latter aids allow the tire pressure to be increased directly in deviations from the target value.

When filling the tire, it is essential to ensure that not too much air escapes when the tube is removed from the valve. It would lead to a deviation from the previously measured pressure. The valve caps should be screwed back on tightly after the tires have been filled to prevent leaks caused by dirt and dust penetrating the valve.

How often should the tire pressure be checked?

Due to the air permeability of rubber, air pressure decreases over time through diffusion. It is therefore advisable to check the tire pressure at regular intervals and adjust it if necessary. In this way, a creeping puncture caused by leaks and minor damage can be detected at an early stage, and a flat tire can be prevented while driving.

It can be advised to carry out a tire pressure check about every two weeks. If you are planning a longer journey or a holiday with your car, an unscheduled inspection should also be carried out. In general - if available - the spare wheel should not be forgotten when inspecting the tire pressure.

How do I know what tire pressure the car needs?

You can find the correct tire pressure in the tire pressure table in the car's operating instructions. It is usually also inside the fuel filler cap or on the door frame of the driver's door. The different pressures for the front and rear wheels are specified there, usually for two load conditions: empty and fully loaded. Using the table, you can see how much air pressure belongs to each tire.

The tire size is also essential. Often they differ for summer and winter tires. You can also find this information in the operating instructions or on the inside of the tank cap.