If you’ve driven a car, we’re sure that how a ‘flat tire’ situation feels like on the go. As you don’t have any gas station nearby, it’s going to put you into even bigger trouble.
But not anymore, if you have the best 12 volt air compressor by your hand. And that’s what you are looking for, if we’re right.
Having that said, this article is going to be your handy guide to find the right one within your budget. We’ve hand-picked 7 best portable 12 volt air compressors from the market and reviewed them in depth.
If that seems promising to you so far, you’re welcome to go through the whole piece.
Just in case you’re in a rush, here goes the glimpse of our best pick-
Our Top Pick: Viair 00088 88P
Ready to inflate tires as large as 33”, this compressor offers a state of the art built quality. With 120psi max pressure and 1.47 CFM max speed, it’s a fast-working, convenient model within budget.
Best 12v air compressor
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1. Viair 88p portable air compressor: Best Overall
As long as it’s about 12V air compressors, it’s often hard to find one that can inflate large tires. By ‘large’ we’re talking about tires up to 33” wide. But our crown-winner, the Viair 00088 88P seems to be at the sweet spots. And that’s leading us to further break down of its important features-
- With 120psi of max pressure delivery, it can be the best portable air compressor for truck tires and similar ones(as large as 33”).
- The maximum amperage of the compressor is 20 amps, which is far better than many others.
- 1.47 CFM of compressed air delivery rate, good for quick inflating.
- a 10 feet long power cord and 16 feet long hose is going to let you cover a good distance between power source and tires.
Having a cigarette outlet power port is kind of a convenient feature in inflating compressors these days. But unfortunately, this one needs to be connected directly to the battery.
- Perfect for large(up to 33”) tires.
- Suits tires of cars, ATVs, SUVs, etc.
- 10 ft power cord and 16 ft hose length.
- Comes with a 3-piece inflation kit.
- Bright LED indicator with intuitive units.
- Provides a good gas mileage.
- Makes the tires last longer.
- Has to be connected directly to the car battery.
2. EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump: Best for truck tires
Often, users who’re not mechanic themselves, look for a secure, trustworthy source of inflation for their car tires. As far as we’re concerned, the EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump checks every box in the light. The cherry on the top is- it’s within budget as well.
- A remarkable inflation speed of 1.06CFM makes it the best air compressor for semi truck tires.
- A bright LED display is there displaying units of PSI, KPA, BAR and other recognizable pressure units.
- Safety is taken care of at it’s best with the in-line fuse within the power cord.
- As the temperature of the device crosses 167 F, it shuts off automatically.
At a deep analysis, we found the exterior of this device as not-so-safe. As the most sensitive parts of it are openly exposed, a single drop down can ruin it at full extent. You might need a separate case to check this threat.
- 1.06 CFM inflation capacity.
- Goes with a wide variety of inflation works.
- The intuitive, 4-unit display is there.
- Auto shut off and heat protection.
- Comes with a backup fuse as well.
- CE-certified design and built quality.
- cThe max speed is only 70psi.
- Not so protected against outdoor threats.
3. Helteko Portable Air Compressor Pump: Best air compressor for car tires
When you need to meet both ends of budget and performance, it’s hard to find the right 12V compressors. For those who are looking forward to the best 12V air compressor within budget, the Helteko Portable Air Compressor Pump goes well with your demand. We’ll break the further features below-
- This compressor is an ideal one for mid-size car tires. It can inflate one such tire within 3-5 minutes.
- Because of its compactness, it produces a very low noise level(less than 50 dB) while operating.
- The continuous work-time of this compressor is higher than many others. It’s 10 minutes at a stretch.
- Built quality of this product is kept high- with the combination of ABS plastic and metal. For the same reason, it’s quite durable.
- Air flow rate of 35L/minute might not be the best, but it’s good enough for consumer-grade usage.
- The cable length is 3.5 meters, and that’s long enough for any on-site application.
- Apart from car tires, you can also inflate tires of bicycle, SUV, motorbike etc.
One thing that we thought needs improvement is the placement of the LCD display. It would be better suited if it was at the top part of the device.
- 150psi maximum working pressure.
- Can deliver 35L/minute air flow rate.
- 3.5 meters long cable provided.
- Low noise level of <50dB.
- Can work continuously for up to 10 minutes.
- Comes with a handful of accessories.
- The placement of the display is not the best in the game.
4. FORTEM Digital Tire Inflator for Car: Best light-weight
In case you are not a garage-enthusiast but still have to get on the board with inflating your car tires yourself, this is the right pick for you. The one-liner complement on the FORTEM Digital Tire Inflator for Car is- it’s super easy to use.
- Using this compression is easy. Just power it up, put the hose in place, set the pressure and you’re ready to go.
- The LED lights placed on the upper half would help you to operate the machine in night time.
- Apart from inflating car tires, you can also use it to inflate air beds, sports balls and similar inflatables.
- The overall built quality is kept light and compact. It weighs only 1.9 pounds.
- Pressure drop through the hose is kept as minimum as possible.
While using, you’ve to maintain a couple of things though. The first one is- the max power of 150psi is only compatible with bicycle tires. And secondly, it can’t run any longer than 8 minutes.
- Max pressure of 150psi.
- 9.84 feet hose length.
- Weighs as lightly as 1.9 pounds.
- Easy to use by even amateurs.
- Automatic shut-off enabled.
- It doesn’t reduce pressure through the hose.
- Can’t run for more than 8 minutes.
5. P.I. AUTO STORE Premium Air Compressor: Best air flow rate
P.I. AUTO STORE
If you do care about fast-inflating your car tire, we’re certain that you’re going to love P.I. AUTO STORE Premium Air Compressor. It’s compact, reliable and can inflate a tire within a quick span of time.
- 38L/min air flow rate, which leads you to very quick inflation of the inflatable subject.
- The design of this device is very compact and storable. For the well built body is a great plus.
- With the main device itself, you’ll get 4 spare dust caps. This is good for the users on the go.
- If you accidentally go for over-inflation of a tire, it will automatically stop that.
- The total reach of the cable length is 13 feet, which is good for covering long automotives.
- The 100 lumen LED display is good for working both day and night.
A quick warning should be here about the connector for the valve stem. Some users have found it troublesome after quite some use.
- Very compact footprint.
- Can inflate at 38L/min rate.
- 13 feet long cable coverage.
- Comes with 4 spare dust caps.
- 100 lumen bright LED display.
- Easily storable.
- The valve stem connector is a bit troublesome.
6. AstroAI Portable Air Compressor Pump: Best for accuracy
In some cases, it’s more important than anything to inflate a tire as precisely as possible. If you care about those small deviations of car tire pressure, then the AstroAI Portable Air Compressor Pump is made right for you. Here go the details-
- The precision of the inflation(as per preset value) is maintained as closely as 1%.
- Can accurately control the outcome within a range of 0-100psi pressure.
- To prevent damages, there is an in-line fuse who’ll resist against voltage and amperage fluctuation.
- Inflating capacity of this device is the basic industry standard, which is 35L/min.
- Auto shut off feature when overheating takes place in the device. The temp limit is 212 F.
An issue with the most talked about precise inflation technology is- it works only within the 100psi level. But while inflating car tires, the pressure is mostly way above the higher limit of this range. Also, as the display is not LED, you might have issues using it during the night time.
- 1-100 psi precision pressure control.
- Only 1% fluctuation is allowed.
- In-line fuse for protection.
- Auto shut off due to overheating.
- A complete inflating solution for automotives.
- Top-embedded display.
- The display is a non-LED one, hard to use at night.
- 100psi precision doesn’t go with large tires.
7. DEWALT DCC020IB 20V Max Inflator
The #1 USP of our last pick of the list is- unlike other models, it can go with multiple power sources. To be specific, you can empower this compressor with any of a 20V Max battery, a 110V AC outlet and of course 12V DC. So, it’s usable both at home and on the go.
Having said that, here go the other specs-
- Runs on any power source among 20V Max DC, 12V DC and 110V AC outlets.
- It comes with onboard accessories in the box. And that works as a 360-degree inflation system for any user.
- The pressure level is easy to check and monitor with the gauge.
The problem with using this compressor on the go is its weight. It’s as heavy as about 3 pounds.
- 3 power sources are compatible.
- Comes with inflation accessories.
- On board LED display.
- Quick and easy to use.
- Rubber feet on the bottom.
- Not so light to carry around.
- Extremely costly compared to other models.
Best 12 Volt Air Compressor: buying guide
To get the best portable air compressor for rv tires and other automotive tires, you need to watch out for some specific features. And these will be discussed in this section of the article-
- The Pressure
Each car tire comes with a specific range of inflation pressure as the unit of psi. Eventually, this should be within the range of psi that your air compressor works within. Otherwise, it will be hardly able to inflate your tires.
Also, keep it in mind that, the larger car tires are, the higher psi value they require.
- Inflating Speed
Making sure everything else goes fine, you definitely want to get done with the inflation job as quick as possible. And that’s where the point of inflating speed takes place.
Usually, it’s between 1.0-1.47 CFM as long as the inflating speed of 12V compressors is considered. For larger tires, go with high CFM. And vice versa.
- The Power Compatibility
As we’re strictly confined within 12v air compressors, it’s compulsory that all of these picks can be empowered with 12V DC outlets. But in case you want to work at home or garage with the same compressor, you need to check for AC-power compatibility(110V) as well.
- The Hose and Cable Length
These are two different cables/pipes we’re talking about, and length of each matters for different reasons. The length of the hose will let you reach distant car tires without moving the compressor itself. On the other hand, the length of the power cord lets you be near to the compressor while working on the inflation.
Making sure that there is no pressure distortion, go for a decent hose length. And the same advice would go for the power cord as well.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
What is the best 12 volt tire inflator?
As per both quality and price go, the Viair 00088 88P is our hand-picked best 12V tire inflator.
How does a 12 volt air compressor work?
A 12V air compressor sources its power from a 12V source(the battery) and delivers compressed air to inflate the tire.
How much psi do I need to fill tires?
Usually, the psi range of 30-150psi you would require from the compressor to inflate tires.
What size air compressor Do I need to fill car tires?
If size addresses the footprint of the compressor, it’s good to keep as minimum as possible.
Alright, that’s the wrap up for today’s best 12 volt air compressor review. Closing things up, our best bang for the bucks had been the Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor. And if you’re looking for something within budget, then the Helteko Portable Air Compressor Pump would be our recommendation.