On a road trip with no car workshop nearby? Need to refill the air in your tires for that smooth trip? Worried that a deflated tire will ruin your holiday?
Then worry no more, because we know exactly the thing you need. What you need is to invest in a good air compressor for your car, one which is portable, small, and can easily be carried around with you at all times.
In other words, you really should invest in a 12-volt air compressor. To help make your choice easier, we’ve reviewed the best ones you can go for.
Comparison Chart of the Best 12-Volt Air Compressors
Viair 00088 88P
Helteko Portable Air Compressor 150PSI 12V
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
Best for the Money
Slime 40026 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator
Best from Slime
Klutch 12 Volt Heavy-Duty Portable Tire Inflator
Best from Klutch
Goodyear i3000 12-Volt Tire Inflator
Best from Goodyear
JACO SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator Pump - Premium 12V Portable Air Compressor
VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor
How to Choose a 12-Volt Air Compressor
There are some things that you need to take into consideration when investing in anything. The same goes for a 12V air compressor. Some things to keep in mind include:
The most important thing is that your compressor needs to be portable enough for you to move it about easily. Not only this, but it should also be compact and you should be able to store it easily. In all, it should be convenient for you to inflate your tires in a jiffy whenever the need arises.
Not all pumps come with automatic features built into them. Some are manual and require you to switch them on and off or adjust other settings. If you’re someone who would love a bit of ease and is willing to pay a little extra for auto features, then you should consider this before making your purchase.
Each pump will inflate tires at a different pace. Also, each pump fills small, medium, and large tires differently as well. How slow or fast you want your inflation to be should be taken into consideration before you invest in an air compressor.
The duty cycle determines how long it will take for your pump to cool down before it can be reused. This further determines how long you will have to wait before you go about inflating another tire.
Quick Take - Best 12-Volt Air Compressors
Before you go any further, here are our top picks:
Review of the Best 12-Volt Air Compressors
Let us delve into details of the best 12V air compressors available on the market. By going through these reviews, you’ll be able to determine which unit is right for you.
Viair 00088 88P
Viair's 88P compressor promises to be a powerful and portable air compressor. The tool can easily take on tires as wide as 33 inches. The air compressor is perfectly suited for ATVs, sedans, trucks, and SUVs. The 12V air compressor has dual battery clamps, which are heavy-duty.
For inflation, the clamps need to be connected to the engine and a tire valve stem needs to be connected to the unit. The pressure build-up inside can be simply checked using the 120PSI gauge built into the top of the unit.
An LED light acts as a power indicator for the unit. Plus, a solid brass twist has been added to the chuck for added strength, durability and prevention of possible air leaks. The duty cycle of the equipment is 25 minutes, given it is working under 30PSI.
A ten-foot long power cord, a 16-foot long air hose, and a three-piece inflation tip kit are also included with this unit
Overall, it is one of the best compressors available in the market. It is also a cheaper alternative to similar pumps. It does its job well and has been applauded by many. However, if the unit fails, the company charges return shipment costs.
Helteko Portable Air Compressor Pump 150PSI
Helteko’s Portable Air Compressor Pump is made from high-quality materials, including high-grade ABS plastic and stainless steel. These high-quality materials ensure durability and longer life. If you are not yet impressed, then you will be pleased to know this compressor is totally digital and automatic. Helteko’s Digital Tire Inflator has an automatic switch-off feature. As soon as the tire reaches the correct pressure, this feature turns the compressor off automatically.
Moreover, the large LCD display helps display measurements accurately. The display gives off readings in PSI, BAR, KPA, and KG/CM². The compressor can easily inflate a medium-sized tire in three to five minutes. Also, it comes with a spare tire inflator that has a long 3.5-meter-long cable. This enables you to inflate wheels of cars, bikes, SUVs, and even motorcycles.
In addition, the LED lighting helps attract the attention of drivers in an emergency situation. The compact and beautiful design makes the compressor even more likable.
Although inexpensive, the gadget may not work as well as it claims. However, it is digital and the features it offers are certainly unique, making it a good investment.
Best for the Money:
EPAuto Digital Tire Inflator
The EP Auto 12-Volt DC Portable Air Compressor Pump is completely digital. The device plugs directly into the cigarette lighter of your car and is thereby, up and running in seconds. A plug to allow ease of this connection has also been added to the device.
The compressor has a variety of uses and is also available in a variety of colors depending on your taste. You can pick from red, blue, green, or yellow. The pump can inflate tires whose engine size is less than 3.5 liters which includes cars, bikes, sedans, and medium-sized SUVs. A universal valve connector for the Schrader valve is ready for use immediately whenever the need arises.
The pump also comes with additional adapters and nozzles that allow you to inflate basketballs, kayaks, swimming pools, or any other inflatable accessories. It is important to note that the compressor has not been designed to inflate truck tires or other heavy-duty objects. The maximum pressure this model can reach is 70 PSI.
Moreover, the digital display makes it easy to read pressure measurements. You can easily read off measurements in PSI, KPA, BAR, and KG/CM even in the dark. A built-in LED flashlight makes the job of inflating tires even easier if the need to perform inflation arises in a dark place.
In addition, the unit switches off automatically when the desired pressure level is reached. Also, to prevent the compressor from overheating, the entire system shuts off when the unit warms up too much. This increases durability and helps protect the unit's parts.
Overall, this is a great unit for medium-sized tires and inflatable accessories, but it’s not suited for heavy-duty inflation. However, with its digital functioning, it will auto-switch off when the pressure reaches a certain level and auto-power off when the unit overheats, which are significant bonuses.
Best from Slime:
Slime 40026 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator
The Slime 40026 2X Heavy-Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator comes in a storage box to help you store and easily carry the inflator around. Slime's 40026 has two cylinders built into it. These allow the compressor to be able to exert maximum power for super-fast tire inflation. Due to this, the pump is able to inflate a standard car tire in within two minutes.
The inflator is also a direct drive unit which allows you to connect it directly to the car battery so the pump can work on maximum power for super-fast results. A coiled air hose that is 30 meters long and an in-line dial gauge ensure that you perform the task of filling up your tires with ease. Plus, the twist connecting cone that attaches to the air hose is a bonus.
Moreover, a built-in internal thermal break prevents the unit from overheating by switching it off whenever the compressor gets too warm. The shock-resistant housing protects the compressor from getting damaged while in use and also prevents the parts from coming loose when your car jerks or bounces.
Furthermore, alligator clip power adapters make the connection to the car battery super easy and a built-in LED light helps you work in darkness. The aluminum folding handle and air adapters are added features which definitely make this pump stand out amongst many.
This is a great compressor unit overall. It works like it promises except is not as long-lasting and durable. Plus, portability and inflation speed are definite bonuses.
Best from Klutch:
Klutch 12-Volt Heavy-Duty Portable Tire Inflator
Klutch's 12-Volt Tire Inflator is a heavy-duty pump. It is perfectly suited to fill the tires of larger vehicles with ease. These include SUVs, RVs, trucks, and other large-sized vehicles. The powerful tire inflation is supported by its ease of connection with the car battery. The alligator clips help connect the unit directly to the vehicle's automotive battery for maximum power. This, in turn, allows you to fill large tires and that, in under minutes.
The 26-foot-long polyurethane air hose makes the compressor even easier to use. It’s easier to extend the hose to allow easy inflation of tires without having to place the pump right beside the tire. Plus, three different nozzle adapters allow the pump to work with a variety of inflatable objects. A pressure gauge is included to help you monitor pressure.
In addition, a 5.3 CFM airflow with a maximum pressure of 150 PSI is supported by the unit. The compressor also comes with its own carry bag, which makes it super portable and makes storage easier and safer. The unit is also designed to protect itself during an overload.
All in all, this is a good compressor unit for larger vehicles. It does what it promises, however, it is not digital and does not have an LED light which aren’t factors that should hold you back from investing in it.
Best from Goodyear:
Bon-Aire Goodyear i3000 12-Volt Tire Inflator
The Bon-Aire Goodyear i3000 Inflator boasts high pressure and perfect inflation. This 12-volt tire inflator is able to fill up 18-inch tires from zero to twenty-eight pounds of pressure in just under seven minutes. The unit is perfect for cars, ATVs, motorcycles, and tires of other similar vehicles. The unit is also designed to allow you to inflate objects such as balls, sports equipment, and other accessories/toys.
The compressor can be easily plugged into the vehicle's power outlet. It also comes with its own user manual, which makes performing the task of inflation even simpler. It is easier to clear up confusion and perform inflation accurately and with speed.
Moreover, its portability and lightness allow you to carry it around with you wherever you go. Meanwhile, the length of the unit is only about nine inches, which makes it easy to store in your trunk.
Although it has a stiffer air hose and poor screw-on connector, it works well to inflate tires in under a few minutes. It is also extremely lightweight and portable and does not overheat during use. Plus, it promises versatility of use since you can use it for various purposes.
JACO's SmartPro Digital Tire Inflator is a 12-volt portable air compressor. It can exert a maximum pressure of 100 PSI for powerful tire inflation. The design features the smart pressure technology, which allows you to set your desired pressure level and then just sit back and relax. The unit turns itself off automatically once it reaches the desired level. The compressor easily inflates standard tires up to 45 PSI and bike tires up to 100 PSI.
A bright LCD screen makes the unit digital and not only makes it easy to monitor and read off pressure readings, but it also makes sure you can do this in a dark place. The unit accurately measures pressure between zero to 100 PSI with an accuracy of one PSI. Moreover, the compressor inflates tires at a whopping rate of 25L every minute.
It is also heavy-duty and comes with two different kinds of nozzles. A 24-inch twistable air hose makes it easier for the pump to be connected to tires without needing to have the pump exactly beside it. The connector pump latches on perfectly to create the perfect seal required for excellent tire inflation.
Moreover, the long power cord that measures about ten feet makes it easy to reach all four tires. The power adapter plugs in smoothly to any 12-volt DC outlet present in your SUV, car, or truck. It also has a built-in bright LED light. This LED light alone has four different settings that include: off, flashlight mode, flashing red, and even emergency SOS.
This is truly one of the best possible air pumps available in the market. With almost no cons and a variety of exciting features, this gadget is definitely something you need to consider while making your purchase.
The Viair 85P Portable Air Compressor is a 12-volt pump that can build up a maximum pressure of 60 PSI. However, this is possible only if the car engine is kept running. The air hose has an air flow of 1.26 CFM at zero PSI. An auxiliary power outlet plugs into any car’s cigarette lighter outlet.
The unit can inflate tires up to 31 inches wide. A screw-on tire chuck helps make a leakage-free connection between the pump and tire. Plus, a pressure gauge built into the top of the unit allows you to monitor the pressure at all times. The ten-foot long power cord helps you reach all four tires of your vehicle easily. This, in turn, does not require you to place the pump directly beside the tires for proper inflation and functioning.
The unit is also small, lightweight, and portable. This makes carrying it around easier and storing it is also a hassle-free task. Not only this, but the compressor also has a built-in LED light to allow use during nighttime or in dark places.
Not the most durable compressor but is definitely lightweight and portable. It fills up tires fast and is noise-free, getting the job done in minutes and without giving you a headache!
Pros and Cons of Having a 12-Volt Air Compressor With You
There are definitely some advantages as well as disadvantages of carrying a 12V air compressor with you. Let’s have a look at what these are:
You are bound to get worried when you end up with a deflated tire in the middle of an empty road. With no workshop or help nearby, an air compressor will definitely be a life-saver.
You do not need to pay money to get your tires refilled at workshops. You can simply pull out your compressor whenever and wherever and fill all of your tires to the correct levels.
Perfectly inflated tires ensure a smooth driving experience and also reduce the risk of potential accidents.
You can easily plug in the device to your cigarette lighter socket or attach it to your car battery for tire inflation.
Connecting the compressor to your automotive battery or lighter socket may take a toll on the vehicle and drain its battery faster than usual.
In case the unit heats up, it is dangerous to place it back in the car before it cools down completely.
Although most units are compact, portable, and store easily, you may still have to create a proper space to store the unit. You may also need a little extra space to make sure nothing bangs with the compressor and damages it during the ride.
All in all, investing in a good air compressor for your car is a great idea. You can enjoy a long trip without having to worry about not finding a workshop nearby in case your tires get deflated. Properly filled tires also make the ride safer and smoother, and trucks carrying a heavy load are also less prone to accidents.
Most are portable and lightweight and storing them is simple. A few others also allow you to fill up other inflatable objects as they come with a variety of different nozzles. Investing in one surely is a win-win situation.