Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (2024)

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (1)

Search "portable tire inflators/air compressors" online and you'll find dozens, if not hundreds, of devices that claim to be the "best" at inflating car tires. Which one is the best for you? We're here to cut through that clutter.

In order to find the truth, we rounded up a truckload of top sellers and renowned brands and pitted them against one another in our testing garage. Which one came out on top? Which tire inflators surprised or disappointed us?

Our Top Picks

How did we pick our contenders? First, we polled the editorial staffs of Car and Driver, Autoweek, and Road & Track for the inflators our experts recommended. Then, we perused the internet to find out which inflators were the most popular, the best sellers, and the highest rated. Ultimately, we leaned into our expertise and automotive knowledge to whittle the list down to a manageable 13.

In order to get a fair and impartial sample of portable tire inflators, we selected several brand names we know and trust, as well as a bunch of best-selling off-brand compressors with (usually) lower prices and (often) better ratings. We assembled a wide range of sizes, power, and styles to represent the many types of portable tire inflators on the market. Finally, we purposely avoided the plethora of tiny handheld inflators that look more like game controllers or smartphones than air compressors.

Once we had our final tire inflator lineup, we ran them through the Gear Team wringer to see how they performed: which ones stood out, which ones dominated the competition, and which ones left us wanting more. And we photographed the whole process. (Editor's Note: The above time-lapse GIF is around two minutes of actual time; that Milwaukee inflator is a BEAST.)

What to Look for in a Portable Tire Inflator

Type

Portable tire inflators come in many shapes and sizes, but they effectively break down into two distinct types: handheld devices and console units. The most important consideration when shopping for a tire inflator is what you'll be using it for.

Handheld is the way to go for a tire inflator to keep in your car in case of emergencies. A handheld inflator should be easily stashable and simple to use. Shop for a handheld inflator that features a work light for nighttime situations, a digital gauge for accurate readings and auto-shutoff, a clamp-style valve connector, and a 12-volt plug to reliably power the device with your vehicle when you need it.

Console units are ideal for everyday household and recreational inflation. Consoles should be able to inflate almost anything, from car tires to sports balls to air mattresses for car camping to rafts, toys, and SUPs for fun recreation (inflatable kayak, anyone?). Most feature multiple power options, numerous inflation attachments, and more features you won't find in a handheld. Somea re even incorporated into consoles with other tools, such as portable jump starters.

On the downside, consoles didn't perform as well as handheld units in the one test we at the Gear Team were most concerned with: portable tire inflation. They all got the job done, but up and down the line the portable handheld units we tested were generally faster at tire inflation than the console compressors. Moreover, most console units can hardly be considered "portable." Yes, you can pick them up, carry them around the house, and pack them in your vehicle for vacations. But keeping a console inflator in the car in case of emergencies? Out of the question, for most of us.

Related: The Best Portable Jump Starters

Power Source

No matter which portable car tire inflator you buy, look for one that features an alternate power source option. Battery-powered handhelds are portable and easy to use, but they should also have a backup 12-volt car plug, just in case. Your vehicle's 12-volt outlet will always be adjacent to your tires and is a trusty power source—unless, of course, in addition to flat tires your car has a dead battery.

Pro Tip: Battery-powered items stashed in cars are often and easily neglected. If you're keeping any battery-powered device in your car, such as an inflator or jump starter, fully charge its battery every few months—say, every time you give your vehicle a detail job that includes vacuuming and interior cleaning.

Wall plugs are great for top-offs at home, but the car will have to be moved close to an electrical outlet, or you'll need a very long extension cord. Or perhaps a portable generator or battery pack to plug into. Direct-to-battery power sources, such as on the Viair unit we tested, provide maximum power but can be unwieldy. More on that later.

Accessories and Features

When shopping for a tire inflator, look for benefits such as:

-An integrated work light for dark roadside repairs; some flash to function as emergency beacons

-A digital gauge with auto shut-off, rather than analog dials

-Clamp-style valve attachments are easier and more convenient than screw-on connectors

-Plenty of attachments, such as a tapered nozzle for inflating air mattresses, rafts, and pool toys; a needle for sports balls; and a Presta valve chuck for some road-bike tires

-Rubber feet to keep your inflator planted while operational

Looking for the best tire inflator to buy in 2024? Here's what we found.

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (12)

The pistol-style AVID Power Cordless stands out from the competition by stepping it up a notch without increasing the price much. It provides a secondary power option via your car's 12V outlet, plus the package includes two of each kind of valve adapter.

In our test, the Avid Power was more than a full minute faster to both 30 psi and 45 psi than its main rival, the AstroAI pistol-style cordless (below). But instead of an extra battery, it comes with a supplemental 12V DC power cord. (Note: We tested this unit using the battery.) We also preferred the feel of the Avid's rubberized handle to the AstroAI's grip. It was slightly quieter too.

If we were shopping for a portable tire inflator to keep in our car, we'd probably pick the Avid Power Cordless. It retails for just under a hundred bucks—but almost always seems to be on sale. Further, we lose tiny parts all the time, so the inclusion of a backup of each type of inflation attachment is appreciated. The alternate on-the-go power option is a clear advantage to carrying a spare battery—let alone keeping the unit fully charged. Add in the faster inflation time, plus the battery's USB port (for charging phones and such), and our choice for Best Overall Tire Inflator turned out to be a pretty easy call.

Inflation Time to 30psi3:45
Inflation Time to 45psi8:06
Size (HxWxL)9.25 x 2.2 x 7.08 inches‎
Weight2.6 pounds
Noise Level85.5 dBA
Hose Length19.6 inches
Valve Connector Clamp
AttachmentsTwo tapered stems, two needle stems, two presta adapters
Power Source(s)12V outlet, 20V Li-Ion battery

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Best Corded Portable Tire Inflator

Teromas Handheld Corded

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (15)

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (16)

Best Corded Portable Tire Inflator

Teromas Handheld Corded

Now 30% Off

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (17)Quieter than most we tested
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (18)Two corded power options
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (19)Available in four colors
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (20)Not overly sturdy
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (21)Some users claim the needle causes too much pressure in balls, causing the unit to stop before the ball is full

The Teromas is similar in size, shape, and performance to the VacLife inflator we tested. Both are flat and easily stashable, both will get the job done, and both cost less than fifty bucks. However, we feel the Teromas is more valuable to the typical driver thanks mainly to its inclusion of a 120-volt household-outlet adapter, in addition to the 12V outlet plug.

The flat, box-shaped unit is easy to use and inflated our Hyundai's test tire about 30 seconds faster to both 30 psi and 45 psi than the VacLife did. It's quieter, too. It weighs a bit more but its hose is longer, and it includes two tapered stems and a ball needle.

In retrospect, after testing both the VacLife and the Teromas, I wish I'd bought the Teromas to keep in my personal car (see below). It's almost as cheap and just as portable as the VacLife I bought, but the optional power supply and the slightly longer hose put the nearly-identical Teromas a cut above its rival.

Inflation Time to 30psi4:28
Inflation Time to 45psi9:11
Size (HxWxL)3.1 x 9.5 x 7.1 inches
Weight2.4 pounds
Noise Level82 dBA
Hose Length21.7 inches
Valve Connector Clamp
AttachmentsTwo tapered stems, needle
Power Source(s)12V outlet, 120V AC outlet

Best Console Inflator

Black+Decker 20V MAX Multi-Purpose Inflator

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (22)

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (23)

Best Console Inflator

Black+Decker 20V MAX Multi-Purpose Inflator

Now 16% Off

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (24)Three power source options
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (25)Includes two hoses: one for high-pressure (tires, balls) and one for high-volume (rafts, air mattresses) applications.
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (26)Quietest inflator we tested
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (27)More suited for household use than for car tires
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (28)Battery not included

Because it offers a lot of options in both everyday applications and power, this Black+Decker model ‎BDINF20C makes a fine inflator for almost anyone—but especially for users who already subscribe to B+D's popular 20V MAX battery system.

Not only does it run cordless via the Li-Ion battery, it will also plug into your car's 12V outlet and includes a wall plug for domestic use. This means you don't have to worry about keeping its battery charged, or buying into yet another battery and charger system if you're not already using the 20V MAX in your garage.

Despite the garage-familiar brand name, this Black+Decker is clearly more of a household inflator than an automotive one. While its inflation time to 30 psi was fairly impressive, it took more than nine minutes to fill our test tire to 45 psi. It's got a high-flow hose and multiple attachments for various applications, and it's lighter and easier to carry around than most of the other console-type units we tested here. But when it comes time to fully inflate a typical SUV tire, it spits the renowned Black+Decker bit. Also, the necessary 20V MAX battery and charger are not included.

Already a user of the 20V MAX battery system? This inflator might be ideal for use around your house. But for car tires? There are faster inflators out there—many of them smaller and lighter than this one.

Inflation Time to 30psi4:16
Inflation Time to 45psi9:16
Size (HxWxL)‎11.6 x 7.6 x 8.7 inches
Weight4.6 pounds
Noise Level78 dBA
Hose Length24.0 inches
Valve ConnectorClamp
AttachmentsHigh-flow hose, two tapered stems, needle, Presta chuck
Power Source(s)12V outlet, 120V AC outlet

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Best for Mechanics and DIY

Viair 88P Corded Portable

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (29)

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (30)

Best for Mechanics and DIY

Viair 88P Corded Portable

Now 14% Off

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (31)Crazy-fast inflation
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (32)Attractive neo-industrial design
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (33)Plenty of attachments and accessories
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (34)No work light
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (35)No alternate power source

The neo-industrial design of this miniature workhorse is a delight to both hold and look at. Unfortunately, it's not quite as satisfying to work with.

Let's be clear: the Viair 88P is incredibly fast at inflating tires. We were blown away (sorry!) by the performance of this device. In fact, next to the monster from Milwaukee in our lead image above, no other compressor in our test came close to inflating our test tire as quickly as the Viair. However, its sole power supply—alligator clips that connect directly to the car battery—and old-school dial gauge keep the Viair 88P from being the ideal car tire inflator for the everyday driver. For the time being, anyway.

Viair built its trusted reputation on its high-quality industrial and commercial air compressors and the 88P is, in form and function, a scaled-down version of one of those. But why the seemingly outmoded power hookup? Why the quaint-but-wonky analog gauge? We didn't want to fault a company we know and trust without hearing its side of the story, so we reached out.

Dave Rittenhouse, Viair Corp.'s Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, told us Viair's main concern is providing a quality product that works, and a direct line to the battery was the only way to achieve that with the 88P. "This unit requires about 16–19 amps for its compressor motor to function effectively," he said. Unfortunately, the typical 12V accessory power port in any car "tops out at around 15 amps. AC power runs a different type of compressor motor, and Li-Ion batteries wouldn't provide the power required to drive this motor," Rittenhouse said. Basically, if it plugged into a 12V cig-type power source it would blow a car's fuse. Thus, the need to draw directly from the car battery. Dave assured us that options are in the works from Viair. But, for now, alligator clips it is.

The integrated analog dial gauge on the Viair looks as quaint and cool as the rest of the unit, but it didn't get as satisfying a justification from a Viair rep as its choice of power supply did. It proved wildly inaccurate during testing, running about 10psi higher than the actual tire pressure while the unit was powered on. When the needle hit 30 psi and we shut the compressor off, and the needle dropped to around 20 psi. We had to shut the motor off, check the dial, measure the psi with our handheld gauge, then top the pressure off. We did this several times all the way to 45psi before we got an acceptable reading on our handheld pressure gauge. Basically, the analog dial gauge on the 88P is worthless (unless you know how high the dial gauge runs—and if you owned an 88P, you'd probably figure that out pretty quickly).

From where we're sitting, the 88P outperformed its competition by leaps and bounds, so we'd love to see Viair come up with a more user-friendly compromise between practicality and efficiency. (An integrated work light would be appreciated too.) In the meantime, if you're comfortable working with alligator clips to your battery and repeatedly double-checking your tire pressure, the Viair 88P is affordable, small enough to stash in the car, includes plenty of inflation accessories, and it's all wrapped up in a convenient carrying case—which is great, because this is an awful lot of hose and cord to wind up every time you use it.

Inflation Time to 30psi1:37
Inflation Time to 45psi3:46
Size (HxWxL)‎9.8 x 3.2 x 5.6 inches
Weight5.6 pounds
Noise Level84 dBA
Hose Length16.0 feet
Valve ConnectorClamp
AttachmentsTwo tapered stems, needle, Presta chuck
Power Source(s)12V battery via 9-foot cord, alligator clamps

Easiest Inflator to Use

AstroAI Pistol Grip

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (36)

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (37)

Easiest Inflator to Use

AstroAI Pistol Grip

Now 38% Off

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (38)10-foot power cord with 12-volt and 120-volt wall outlet adapters
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (39)Lightweight and easy to use
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (40)Often found on sale
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (41)Loudest inflator we tested
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (42)After trigger is released, the digital gauge and light remain on for 5–10 minutes, wasting precious battery life

One of the top-selling tire inflators at Amazon, in our test this lightweight, portable compressor from AstroAI justified its popularity. It's small enough to stash in your daily driver in case of emergencies and strong enough to get you out of a jam.

Powered by a fast-charging (about an hour) 20V 2.0Ah Li-ion battery, it also offers a power cord that plugs into either the wall or your car's cigarette lighter, with an adapter. The pistol-style AstroAI is simple to use; just set the desired psi, clamp on the connector, and pull the trigger. Its inflation times to 30 psi and 45 psi were faster than most of the other units in our test, handheld or console. (It was also louder than most of the other units here.) And it all comes in a carrying case that should fit in most cargo cubbies and perhaps even your spare tire well.

The old adage says, "you get what you pay for," and it's usually true. However, in our testing, the AstroAI Cordless Inflator busted that stereotype wide open by being efficient, portable, and versatile—all while being supremely affordable.

Inflation time to 30psi3:40
Inflation time to 45psi7:90
Size (HxWxL)6.7 x 3.2 x 9.5 inches
Weight2.6 pounds
Noise Level90 dBA
Hose Length18.0 inches
Valve ConnectorClamp
AttachmentsHose extension, Presta valve chuck, needle, valve extender
Power Source(s)LI-Ion battery, 12V outlet, 120V AC outlet

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Fastest Tire Inflator

Milwaukee M18 Tire Inflator

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (43)

Fastest Tire Inflator

Milwaukee M18 Tire Inflator

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (44)Super-fast inflation
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (45)Sturdy rubber feet
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (46)Good for truck tires
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (47)Durable construction
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (48)No integrated work light
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (49)No alternate power source
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (50)M18 battery and charger not included

Milwaukee's 2848-20 M18 Inflator blew away (sorry again!) the competition in inflation time. It inflated our test tire to 30 psi in just over a minute and hit 45 psi in only about two and a half minutes, allowing us to make a cool inflation GIF with the tire on a Ford Bronco (at top). Both times were nearly five minutes faster than most other inflators we tested, save the Viair.

But it's not ideal. The 2848-20 is a relatively large and heavy unit that's too big to carry around in your daily driver. The valve attachment is screw-on, which is fine for everyday inflating but a (literal) pain for cold fingers to manipulate in extreme weather. Most egregious, there is no alternative power source; the unit requires Milwaukee's proprietary M18 Li-ion battery—and that's not included.

The 2848-20 offers plenty of power and speed to inflate large tires quickly, so it might be ideal for off-roaders and overlanders to lug into the wild—but only if they already own, or are willing to purchase, an M18 battery and charger.)Now, if you've already bought into Milwaukee's M18 battery system, this 2848-20 inflator would be a fine choice to add to your garage. But if you're looking for a simple solution for occasional tire inflation and top-offs, there are more portable inflators out there. (Note: Milwaukee makes a smaller, more portable tire inflator, the model 2475-20. However, it relies on the less-popular and less-powerful M12 battery.)

Inflation time to 30psi1:04
Inflation time to 45psi2:26
Size (HxWxL)7.0 x 14.7 x 8.3 inches
Weight8.7 pounds
Noise Level87dBA
Hose Length36.0 inches
Valve ConnectorScrew-on
AttachmentsTapered nozzle, needle, Presta valve chuck
Power Source(s)Li-Ion battery

Reliable Budget Inflator

VacLife Corded

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (51)

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (52)

Reliable Budget Inflator

VacLife Corded

Now 29% Off

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (53)Lightweight and extremely portable
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (54)Relatively quiet operation
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (55)Four color options
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (56)No battery-powered option
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (57)10-minute time limit to prevent overheating

Full disclosure: I bought this unit myself a while back because it's small enough to stash in the spare tire well of my family's Honda CR-V. I've used it several times over the course of about 18 months, mainly for pre-road-trip adjustments, and it's never failed to do the job.

In our testing, the VacLife proved itself capable, if not outstanding. Its inflation times were in the middle of the pack but faster than some larger units. The distinctive shape and light weight make it extremely portable, and you don't have to worry about charging a battery; there is none. The VacLife plugs into your car's 12V power source (an included adapter lets you plug into a wall outlet), and its 12-foot power cord is plenty long enough to reach all four tires. Its decibel reading was also lower than most other inflators we tested. The digital gauge isn't the most accurate of the bunch, but none of the inflators we tested were spot-on. It includes an LED work light.

This VacLife isn't going to wow you with its performance, but it might be the most packable compressor on our list—and it's definitely one of the most affordable.

Inflation time to 30psi4:54
Inflation time to 45psi9:36
Size (HxWxL)9.8 x 6.5 x 4.0 inches
Weight2.1 pounds
Noise Level85 dBA
Hose Length31.5 inches
Valve ConnectorClamp
AttachmentsNeedle, two tapered nozzles
Power Source(s)12V outlet, 120V AC outlet

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Smallest & Lightest Tire Inflator

Fix-A-Flat S40074

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (58)

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (59)

Smallest & Lightest Tire Inflator

Fix-A-Flat S40074

Now 22% Off

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (60)Easy to stash, easy to use
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (61)10-foot power cord
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (62)LED work light and attachments included
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (63)No alternative power source
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (64)Digital display is on the side, making it more difficult than others to check at a glance

Considering it's the smallest and lightest unit we tested, this inflator's performance was an eye-opener, right up there with the portable and hands-free VacLife and Teromas. (Note: An older version of this inflator is linked above. The updated product link is here.)

The Fix-A-Flat S40074 plugs directly into a vehicle's 12-volt outlet—there's no other power option—via a 10-foot cord and clamps onto Schrader valves easily. Its inflation time to 30 psi and 45 psi was surprisingly comparable to the competition. As you might expect, though, the smallest and lightest unit also felt far more fragile than its rivals—that is, even more like a flimsy plastic box than the rest. We'd hate for it to slip out of our hands during use and fall on a hard concrete garage floor or asphalt road shoulder. We wouldn't even trust it to roll around unsecured in a cargo bay or trunk.

The S40074 tire inflator proved efficient, easy to use, and super-portable. We're also glad Fix-A-Flat finally moved beyond the outmoded analog dial gauge for this newest model.

Inflation Time to 30 psi4:18
Inflation Time to 45 psi8:22
Size (HxWxL)‎8.0 x 2.8 x 6.1 inches
Weight1.7 pounds
Noise Level88 dBA
Hose Length12.0 inches
Valve ConnectorClamp
AttachmentsTapered stem, needle
Power Source(s)12V outlet

Most Power Options

RoofPax Console Inflator

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (65)

Most Power Options

RoofPax Console Inflator

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (66)Three distinct power options offer increased versatility
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (67)Includes two hoses: one for high-pressure (tires, balls) and one for high-volume (rafts, air mattresses) applications.
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (68)Relatively low noise level
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (69)Includes SUP valve chuck
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (70)Relatively slow inflation speed
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (71)Heavy

More known for its cargo carriers, RoofPax's tire inflator stands out because it offers all three power options, a rarity among the off-brand units we tested. It deflates too.

However, for a compressor that boasts dual motors, the RoofPax's inflation time to 30 psi took longer than all of the handheld options in our test—overall, it was slower than all but two of the units we tested. So it's not perfect. It improved its 45-psi time enough to end up in the middle of the pack in that regard, and its decibel level was on the lower end of our spectrum too. On the plus side, it was the only inflator we tested that offered a valve chuck attachment specifically for inflating SUPs.

Overall, the RoofPax is a decent inflator to use around the home, and its three power options will certainly hold value for some users. If it had inflated a bit faster—and didn't cost over a hundred bucks—it might have been among our favorites. But at this price point, we think car owners looking for a portable tire inflator can do better.

Note: RoofPax does offer a five-year extended manufacturer's warranty. If you choose to buy this unit from Amazon, make sure to buy it directly from the RoofPax store.

Inflation Time to 30psi5:02
Inflation time to 45psi9:16
Size (HxWxL)‎17.1 x 8.8 x 6.7 inches
Weight6.4 pounds
Noise Level82 dBA
Hose Length24.0 inches
Valve ConnectorClamp
AttachmentsTwo tapered ends, sports needle, Presta valve chuck
Power Source(s)12V outlet, 120V AC outlet

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Most Durable Console Inflator

Ryobi 18V ONE+ Console

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (72)

Most Durable Console Inflator

Ryobi 18V ONE+ Console

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (73)Also deflates
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (74)Long battery life
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (75)Works with any Ryobi ONE+ product
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (76)Relatively quiet
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (77)Battery and charger sold separately
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (78)Screw-on connector
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (79)No alternate power source

Another brand that uses a proprietary Li-Ion battery, the Ryobi ONE+ inflator/deflator was smaller and lighter than some of the other console units we tested. And it's as sturdy as all get-out. It was, however, plagued by the same issue as the Black+Decker above; despite boasting a brand name that mechanics trust, it's better for everyday use around the house than it is on your vehicle's tires.

Don't get us wrong; the Ryobi inflated our test tire to 30 psi in a little over four minutes, and the inflation time to 45 psi was eight minutes flat (a full minute faster than the B+D). Both times were about average for most of the inflators we tested. The battery offered plenty of juice to inflate all four tires, but there is no backup power option—and, critically, the ONE+ battery is not included in this package. We missed the confidence and convenience that comes with an alternate power source. Finally, the threaded, screw-on valve connector was easy enough to manipulate in a warm garage. But outdoors, in the biting Michigan cold? No thanks.

If you've already bought into Ryobi's ONE+ battery system, this inflator/deflator will work for you. If not, then you won't miss much by opting for a less expensive, portable tire inflator that you can stash in the car. Next time we'll try Ryobi's P737D pistol-grip tire inflator.

Inflation Time to 30 psi4:17
Inflation Time to 45 psi8:00
Size (HxWxL)10.3 x 9.3 x 4.1 inches
Weight3.9 pounds
Noise Level85 dBA
Hose Length20.0 inches
Connector ValveClamp
AttachmentsTapered valve, needle, Presta chuck
Power Source(s)Li-Ion battery

Runner-Up

Avid Power Tire Inflator Air Compressor

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (80)

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (81)

Runner-Up

Avid Power Tire Inflator Air Compressor

Now 15% Off

Pros
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (82)Includes two hoses: one for high-pressure (tires, balls) and one for high-volume (rafts, air mattresses) applications.
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (83)Plenty of attachments
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (84)Comes in three colors
Cons
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (85)Will not fully inflate heavy-duty truck, van, or RV tires
  • Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (86)Relatively loud, and slow to inflate tires

Avid Power's pistol-grip device got our Best Overall Tire Inflator nod; unfortunately, this Avid Power portable console compressor was also the loudest among its rivals and, out of all the tire inflators here, the slowest to both 30 and 45 psi.

Oh, it got the job done and offers most of the bonus features and attachments we were looking for, save for a battery option. And its price point is decidedly consumer-friendly. If you're just looking for an affordable household inflator, the Avid will certainly suffice.

If you want to get the best value from a console inflator, though—and that evaluation entails not just cost but factors such as efficiency, inflation speed, and noise—we recommend going with one of the other options here.

Inflation Time to 30psi5:14
Inflation Time to 45psi9:41
Size (HxWxL)‎11.8 x 7.3 x 7.0 inches
Weight5.3 pounds
Noise Level86 dBA
Hose Length28.0 inches
Connector TypeClamp
AttachmentsTwo large tapered stems, needle, Presta chuck
Power Source(s)12V outlet, 120V AC outlet

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How We Tested Portable Tire Inflators

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To evaluate these tire inflators, we called into service one of Car and Driver's fleet cars, a sleek black 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV with a tire size of 235/55R19. Starting from a 10-psi reading on our handheld tire pressure gauge, we timed each inflator to 30 psi, then to 45psi, the approximate range of the typical SUV.

We also measured each unit's average decibel reading while operating. We then used a handheld tire gauge to confirm how accurate each unit's integrated pressure gauge was, before and after inflation.

For our final evaluation, we compared all these measurements. We also took into account each inflator's size, weight, air-hose length, connector type, attachments, features, and power source(s). Price was not a consideration—apart from one console, which was omitted. In both style and specs, that unit was too strikingly similar to another unit we tested as to merit a full written review of both. So we simply chose the less-expensive tire inflator to feature here.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Tire Inflator

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We unpackaged, tested, evaluated, and reviewed 11 portable air compressors in an effort to find the best tire inflator for most drivers. (Technically, it was 13, but the battery for one device wouldn't take a charge, and, as mentioned above, one unit felt superfluous so we omitted it.)

It wasn't a difficult test per se, but it was a rather taxing and time-consuming process. Here are some things we learned and noted along the way:

  • Renowned brand-name inflators didn't necessarily perform any better than the off-brand ones we tried. Handheld inflators proved to be just as fast as, if not faster than, console units at inflating car tires.
  • None of the gauges on any of the devices we tested were 100 percent accurate. Always double-check your psi with a handheld tire pressure gauge before and after using any tire inflator.
  • 12V DC car power cords that plug into your "cigarette lighter" outlet often require the engine to be running to power the device.
  • Threaded screw-on connectors will provide a surer seal but can be hard to manipulate in cold weather. Furthermore, Schrader air valves are designed mainly for rubber or plastic end caps, not metal screw-on connectors; cross-threading (or stripping) the brass threads on your tire valves is a real possibility.
  • Most portable inflators are rather loud when operating; nearly all of the ones we tested came in at just under 90 decibels, or about as loud as a leaf blower.
  • All of these units warned against overheating; always allow any portable air compressor (especially handhelds) to cool down after about 10 minutes of constant use.
  • When it comes to proprietary battery systems, we usually recommend sticking with the brand you're already using in your garage. This goes for any power tool you may be considering. It's cheaper and easier, and any benefits you might see will likely be offset by the extra expense of purchasing yet another battery and charger.
  • If you find yourself needing to inflate the same tire(s) repeatedly, you've got bigger issues, pal. Get those tires repaired or replaced ASAP.

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FAQs about Portable Tire Inflators

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What is the best portable car tire pump?

Whichever one is best for your needs. If you're looking for a truly "portable" inflator to keep in your car, opt for one that's small enough to stash in your vehicle and easy to use, such as the Avid Power Pistol Grip.

How long do portable tire inflators last?

As long as you take care of yours, it should last for years. Be advised most are plastic-cased, and just one solid drop on a hard garage floor from being rendered useless. Handle with care. Also, batteries do have a tendency to lose their strength after a while; look for one with a replaceable battery.

Who makes the best tire inflator?

That's subjective. The "best" for you will be the one that's ideally suited to your needs. In our testing, we found that brand-name inflators generally weren't any more effective at tire inflation than the less-expensive imported brands. That said, reliability, durability, and warranty coverage should be a consideration. If you're looking for a battery-powered inflator, we always recommend going with the proprietary battery system you already own and use.

Should I get an air compressor or a tire inflator?

If you also want your inflator to pump up sporting goods, inflatable toys, etc., a multi-purpose air compressor is probably best. However, if you just want to inflate your vehicle's tires occasionally, you won't need all that versatility. That said, most of the inflators we tested came with a variety of attachments for all kinds of inflation needs.

Why Trust Us?

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (90)

Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. The Gear Team has tested a wide variety of automotive products, parts, accessories, and gear, such as dash cams, jump starters, garage heaters, and gps trackers. We get our hands on each and every product we test. Most are purchased; some are supplied by manufacturers.

Hearst Autos doesn't need to game algorithms for traffic or promote lousy products to earn a buck. Instead, we're more concerned with our legacy, our reputation, and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest opinions and expert evaluations.

Visit our page to see the very best in automotive gear. Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.

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Jon Langston

Deputy Commerce Editor

Jon Langston is an avid motorcyclist and gear collector whose work has appeared in Men’s Journal, Cycle World, The Drive, Rider, Iron & Air, Motorcyclist, and more.

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (92)

Tested byCollin Morgan

Commerce Editor

Collin Morgan is a Commerce Editor at Hearst Autos, where the former Rust Belt mechanic and gadget enthusiast presents the best gear for your automotive endeavors.

Best Portable Tire Inflators of 2024, Tested (2024)

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