2020 Best Portable 12V Air Compressors for Inflating Tires

2020 Best 12V Air Compressors for Inflating Tires

Updated - 05/11/2020

12-Volt DC air compressors are powered by your vehicle's electrical system making them ideal for keeping your tires properly inflated. Some 12V compressors simply plug into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter or 12-volt accessory jack, other heavy-duty models connect directly to the battery terminals with special clamps. In either case, you can keep one of these in your car or truck and always be prepared to conveniently add air to an under-inflated tire without needing to search around for a gas station with an air pump.

All 12V portable air compressors found in this review are 2020 top selling models with hundreds of positive 4 and 5-star Amazon customer reviews. Even if you intend on buying your 12-volt tire inflator from a local retailer such as Walmart, Harbor Freight or AutoZone, I highly recommend that you read through some of the negative reviews at Amazon for the models that interest you so you’ll know what problems or complaints others have experienced.

DeWALT DC0201 Inflator Review

UPDATE

We've updated this page with a current review of the new DeWALT DCC020I Corded/Cordless Air Inflator. Unfortunately, we did not receive one in time to include it in our top 5 inflator review ratings. 

DeWALT DCC020I Review

2020 Best 12V Tire Inflators - Top 5

Item

Specs

​R​ating

Price

VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor

VIAIR 00085 85P Portable Air Compressor

​Power

​12V 15A


CFM @ 0 PSI

​1.26 CFM


Max T​ire Size

​31"

​Plugs Into 12V Outlet


​Viair Quality


​Great Amazon Reviews!

Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor

VIAIR 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor

​Power

​​12V ​20A


CFM @ 0 PSI

​​1.47 CFM


Max T​ire Size

​33"

​Direct 12 Volt Battery Clamps


​120 PSI

​​

Inflate 33" Tires

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator

​Power

​12V 15A


CFM @ 0 PSI

1.​06 CFM


Max Tire Size

Midsize SUV

Least Expensive ​


​Digital Air Gauge


Thousands of 5 Star Reviews

.

AC010178C AmazonBasics Portable Air Compressor, Dual Battery Clamps with Carrying Case

AmazonBasics AC010178C Portable Air Compressor

Power

12V ​DC


CFM @ 0 PSI

​2.12 CFM


Max Pressure

120 PSI

​Inflates larger Tires


​​Digital Air Gauge


​AmazonBasics Quality

.

Kensun AC/DC Swift Performance Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator for Home 110V and Car 12V

Kensun-EHRComp-A58B 12V/120V AC/DC Portable Compressor

Power

12V 10A

120V 1A


Max Air Flow

0.71 CFM


Max Pressure

100 PSI

Dual Voltage AC/DC 


Analog Air Gauge


Hundreds of 5 Star Reviews

.

VIAIR 85P Tire Inflator Review


VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor Review

The VIAIR 85P portable 12V tire inflator is a 2020 best seller with thousands of positive reviews. It is a powerful little compressor capable of inflating tires up to 31" and features a built-in LED work light.

The 3 foot long air hose features a twist-on tire chuck constructed of solid brass and a 10' power cord makes it easy to reach any of your vehicle's tires. The 85P outputs 1.26 CFM in free air and can inflate a 225/60R18 tire from 0 to 30 PSI in only 3 minutes.

You'll want to make sure your vehicle is equipped with a suitable 12 volt DC power jack or cigarette lighter plug with at least a 15 amp capacity. If you lack this, you'll want to get the VIAIR 88P, reviewed below, that offers direct battery clamp connectors. Also note that this model has a 60 PSI air pressure limit, which is plenty for most cars and SUV's that use 32 - 35 PSI recommended tire pressure.

VIAIR 00085 Air Compressor Owners Manual - PDF 

VIAIR 85P Inflator Features

  • 100 PSI Gauge
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • Deluxe Carry Bag
  • 3 Inflation Tips
  • 15 Amps
  • 60 PSI Maximum
  • 1.28 CFM @ 0 PSI
  • LED Work Light
  • Length 9.1"
  • Width 3.1"
  • Height 5.6"
  • 4.3 Lbs.

Our VIAIR 85P Ratings

Power

Produces an air output of 1.28 CFM in free air with 60 PSI maximum pressure.

Quality

This is a good quality tire inflation compressor considering price.

Cost

The 85P is competitively priced and usually retails under $50

AIRpsi.com

Overall Rating :  4.5

The 85P is dead simple to use and would be an excellent choice for typical tire inflation tasks. We gave the Viair 85P an overall rating of 4.5 stars.

Pros

  • Highly Portable
  • Fills 33" Tires
  • Included Accessories
  • Excellent Buyer Reviews

Cons

  • 60 PSI Limit
  • DC Jack Only

VIAIR 85P Air Compressor

VIAIR 88P 12 Volt Compressor Review


Viair 00088 88P Portable Tire Inflator

The VIAIR 88P 12V compressor is a powerful tire inflator with direct battery clamps. The direct connection is better, however the trade-off is you need to open the hood to access the vehicle's battery which is typically less convenient than simply plugging into a 12 volt power outlet. The upside is, the 88P has more power with 1.47 CFM and a 120 PSI maximum pressure than the plug in Viair 85P model and can inflate tires up to 33".

Like the 85P the VIAIR 88P offers a solid brass twist-on tire chuck and a 10 foot 12 volt DC power cord, however the air hose is a generous 16 feet long. The extra long air hose is really convenient for hard to reach tires such as trailer tires. The 88P outputs 1.47 CFM in free air and can inflate a 225/60R18 tire from 0 to 30 PSI in only two and a half minutes, even a massive 33″ x 12.5″ tire can be filled  from flat to 30 PSI in around 5 minutes and 45 seconds.

This power comes at a price, the 88P draws up to 20 amps, requiring you to keep the engine running while using this compressor, which is something we recommend anyway whenever using a 12 volt DC compressor running off of a vehicle's battery.

Viair 00088 Air Compressor Owners Manual - PDF 

VIAIR 88P Inflator Features

  • 120 PSI Gauge
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • Direct Battery Clamps
  • 3 Inflation Tips
  • 20 Amps
  • 120 PSI Maximum
  • 1.47 CFM @ 0 PSI
  • LED Work Light
  • Length 9.8"
  • Width 3.2"
  • Height 5.6"
  • 4.75 Lbs.

Our VIAIR 88P Ratings

Power

1.47 CFM in free air with 120 PSI maximum.

Quality

Quality tire compressor considering price.

Cost

The 88P usually retails around $60

AIRpsi.com

Overall Rating :  4.5

The Viair 88P is an good choice portable tire inflator for many average users. We rate it 4.5 stars.

Pros

  • Direct Connection
  • More Powerful
  • Fills 33" Tires
  • Excellent Buyer Reviews

Cons

  • No 12V DC Plug
  • Gets Hot

VIAIR 88P Air Compressor

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Review


EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Review

The EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator by 100 PSI features auto shutoff at the preset pressure to prevent over inflation of your tires. The inexpensive, small & light AT-010-1Z unit simply plugs into a cigarette lighter or 12 volt DC power outlet.

Some key features include:

  • Easy to read digital display with configurable selections for PSI, KPA, BAR or KG/C
  •  Over-current, overheat and over inflation protection.
  • 1.06 CFM - Free-Air inflation speed.
  • 100 PSI maximum working pressure.
  •  Screw-on tire chuck with adapters for blow-up inflatables, basketballs, etc.

The compressor's DC power cord is ample at around 10' long, however the air hose is rather short, when compared to some other competitors, at under 3' in length. Noise and power are good for a compressor with this low of a price point.

One disadvantage of this inflator is its inability to support inflation of LV, HT & truck tires, however it does inflate tires on cars, bikes, and up to midsize SUVs. However this is typical of most 12V tire inflators that are priced under $50.

The EPAuto AT-010-1Z is the most popular 12V tire inflator sold on Amazon with a 4.5 star rating from well over 3300 customer reviews.

EPAUTO AT-010-1Z Operating Instructions:

1. Make sure the power switch is at OFF position and the vehicle engine is running.
2. Remove the dust cap from the tire valve, and then attach the air chuck to the tire valve stem, and screw onto tire’s valve stem.
3. Plug the power cord into a 12V cigarette lighter socket.
4. Press (M) button to choose the display unit. (4 units available: PSI, KPA, BAR, KG/CM). Press (-) or (+) button to set the desired pressure, and then wait until it stops flashing.
5. Turn on the power switch. The compressor will automatically stop inflating once the desired pressure is reached.
6. When the desired pressure is reached, turn OFF the power.
7. Unscrew the valve connector, place the tire valve dust cap back to the tire & disconnect the power cord from a 12V cigarette lighter socket.

EPAUTO 12VDC AT-010-1Z Features

  • Overheat Protection
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • 12V DC Plug 
  • 3 Inflation Tips
  • 15 Amps
  • 100 PSI Maximum
  • 1.06 CFM @ 0 PSI
  • LED Work Light
  • Length 9.6"
  • Width 7.8"
  • Height 5.4"
  • 3.81 Lbs.

Our EPAUTO AT-010-1Z Ratings

Power

1.06 CFM in free air with 100 PSI maximum.

Quality

Reasonable quality compressor considering the budget price.

Cost

The AT-010-1Z usually retails around $35

AIRpsi.com

Overall Rating :  4.5

The EPAuto AT-010-1Z is an excellent budget tire inflator and one of Amazon's best selling tire inflators.  We gave it an overall rating of 4.5 stars.

Pros

  • Easy Plug-In Connection
  • Least Expensive
  • Auto-Shutoff at Set PSI
  • Excellent Buyer Reviews

Cons

  • No Truck Tires
  • Tire Chuck Complaints

EPAuto AT-010-1Z UPC 707129800176

AmazonBasics AC010178C 12V Air Compressor Review


AmazonBasics Portable Air Compressor with Dual Battery Clamps and Carrying Case

AmazonBasics Portable Air Compressor with Dual Battery Clamps and Carrying Case

AmazonBasics is Amazon’s “store brand” and offers substantial value and quality backed by Amazon. The AC010178C Portable 12-Volt Air Compressor has more power to inflate larger tires and is quieter than many heavy-duty inflators in this price range. This AmazonBasics  air compressor uses a short air hose coupled to a flexible 16.4-foot coiled hose. This combination makes inflating those pesky hard to reach tires easier.

This is a heavy duty multi-purpose inflator with dual alligator battery clamps that provide a more secure and higher current capacity direct connection to your vehicle’s battery than the lighter duty cigarette lighter style plug-in connectors.

Key features include:

  • Integrated digital air pressure gauge with easy to read LED display
  • Built-in LED work light
  • Automatic PSI limit setting
  • 120 PSI maximum pressure with 2.12 CFM free flow at 0 PSI
  • Heavy-duty alligator clamp style battery connectors
  • Handy carry case included
  • Includes 3 inflator tips for balls, pool floats, air mattress, etc.
  • Long coiled air hose
  • Brass screw-on air chuck

What we didn’t like - The short air hose must be connected to the long-coiled air hose, it can’t function independently and the 12V DC power cable could be a little longer.

Bottom Line - Amazon’s AC010178C portable 12 volt compressor offers a lot of bang for the buck and is backed by an AmazonBasics limited 1-year warranty. The PSI limiter prevents overinflated tires, you can just set the desired tire pressure and let it go. This model isn't for everyone but if you need the additional power its a good 12v compressor for the money.

AmazonBasics AC010178C User Manual - PDF

AmazonBasics AC010178C Features

  • Direct Connection
  • Dual Cylinder Pump
  • 12V DC Powered 
  • 3 Inflation Tips
  • Over-Pressure Limiter
  • 120 PSI Maximum
  • 2.12 CFM AC Power
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Length 11.8"
  • Width 8.8"
  • Height 8.5"
  • 7.26 Lbs.

Our AmazonBasics AC010178C Ratings

Power

2.12 CFM in free air with 120 PSI maximum pressure.

Quality

Decent quality compressor for the money.

Cost

The AmazonBasics AC010178C usually retails around $60

AIRpsi.com

Overall Rating :  4.5

Amazon’s AC010178C inflator is powerful for its size and price. We gave the AmazonBasics AC010178C an overall rating of 4.5 stars.

Pros

  • Heavy-Duty 2 Cylinder Pump
  • Auto PSI Limiter
  • 120 PSI - 2.12 CFM
  • Excellent Buyer Reviews

Cons

  • Needs Both Air Hoses
  • Short Battery Cable

AmazonBasics AC010178C Inflator

Kensun AC/DC Portable Inflator Review


Kensun EHRComp-A58B AC/DC Portable Tire Inflator Review

Kensun is a quality manufacturer of automotive accessories, and the Kensun-EHRComp-A58B is a highly rated and versatile little machine for all types of inflation needs. This compressor is great for maintaining vehicle tire pressure, but can also inflate balls, pool floats, air mattresses, and more.

You can operate this compressor from either 12V DC using a lighter jack or 120V AC using a standard household electrical receptacle. This is a convenient feature of this model, you can plug it in on your patio to inflate pool toys or throw in in your car for emergency use to inflate a tire on the roadside.

The Kensun-EHRComp-A58B comes with a 3.3’ AC power cord and a DC power cord that is just under 11’ long and a 31.4” black woven air hose with a screw-on connection for those hard to reach tires. Air flow is 0.64 CFM on 12V or 0.71 CFM when running on AC power. The duty cycle is 30 minutes at 35 PSI which is sufficient for many inflation tasks without needing to let the compressor cool down.

What we didn't like: The power of this compressor is a little on the light side compared to the competition, however the dual voltage feature may outweigh the lower power for some users.

This is a very popular compressor at Amazon with hundreds of positive reviews and its also affordable, usually around $50 or less.  

Kensun User Manual - PDF

Kensun EHRComp-A58B Features

  • AC/DC Dual Power
  • Oil-Free Pump
  • 12V DC Plug 
  • 3 Inflation Tips
  • 10 Amps
  • 100 PSI Maximum
  • 0.71 CFM AC Power
  • 0.64 CFM DC Power
  • Length 11.8"
  • Width 4.3"
  • Height 6.7"
  • 3.92 Lbs.

Our Kensun AC/DC A58B Ratings

Power

0.71CFM in free air running on AC power with 100 PSI maximum pressure.

Quality

The Kensun is a reasonable quality compressor considering the price.

Cost

The A58B is a very affordable option and usually retails for around $50

AIRpsi.com

Overall Rating :  4.​0

This is an excellent inflator that offers a convenient dual-power option. We gave the Kensun AC/DC EHRComp-A58B an overall rating of 4 stars.

Pros

  • Dual AC/DC Operation
  • Screw-On Air Connector
  • Two Year Support
  • Excellent Buyer Reviews

Cons

  • No Truck Tires
  • Low CFM Output

Kensun-EHRComp-A58B Inflator

DeWALT DCC020I Review


DeWALT DCC020IB 20V Max Inflator Review

When speaking of quality tools the DeWALT name and reputation holds it's own.

DeWALT's DCC020I portable inflator is a heavy duty inflator that can conveniently run on any of three different power sources.

  • 12 Volt DC
  • 20V MAX Battery
  • 120 V AC

A long 13.75 foot 12 Volt DC power cable is included with the bare tool (model DCC0201B). This enables you to power the inflator from a vehicle's 12 volt DC power jack with a 10 Amp power draw. 

You can also make the inflator completely portable by popping in a DeWALT 20V MAX battery pack. If you don't have any existing DeWALT 20V max tools and wish to use this power option, you'll want to order the DeWALT DCB230C 20V Battery Pack Kit which includes a compact 3.0 Amp Hour Lithium-Ion battery pack and charger.

If you want to power the DCC020I from standard 120 Volt AC power, you'll need the optional DeWALT N557514 power supply adapter. It's currently around $30 from DeWalt.

Included with bare tool (DCC020IB):

  • DCC020I Air Inflator
  • 12V DC Power Cord
  • High-Pressure Tapered Nozzle
  • Presta Valve Adapter
  • Inflator Needle

The manufacturer states that the DCC020IB inflator can inflate a standard 17" car tire from flat to 35 PSI in around 4 and a half minutes or a standard 17" truck tire from 0 to 35 PSI in just over 8 minutes. Using a DCB230 battery, the inflator can fill over 6 average car tires or between 3-4 truck tires on a single charge.

In addition to the 29 inch long high pressure hose, the DeWALT DCC020I also includes a high volume inflator/deflator hose for large items such as air mattresses, rafts, and swimming pool floats.

We like the solid compact design and heavy-duty rubber feet to prevent walking while in use. The versatility of triple power options is a big winner also, however we didn't like the AC power adapter was not included in the package.

DeWALT DCC020I Inflator Owners Manual

DeWALT DCC020I Features

  • AC/DC or Battery
  • LED Light
  • 12V DC Plug 
  • Integrated Storage
  • Inflate/Deflate
  • Automatic Shutoff
  • 0.5 Pressure SCFM
  • 15.2 Volume SCFM
  • Length 5.2"
  • Width 11.2"
  • Height 9.8"
  • 5.5 Lbs.

Our DeWALT DCC020I Ratings

Power

Plenty of power to inflate auto and small truck tires.

Quality

Excellent quality compressor for the price.

Cost

The bare DCC020I usually retails around $120

AIRpsi.com

Overall Rating :  4.5

This is an excellent inflator with versatile triple power options. We gave the DeWALT DCC020I an overall rating of 4.5 stars.

Pros

  • AC/DC Operation
  • Heavy Duty
  • Three Year Support
  • Excellent Buyer Reviews

Cons

  • No AC Adapter
  • No Quick Connect 

DeWALT DCC020I Inflator

​Types of Portable Tire Inflators

There are basically 4 types of portable tire inflation compressors.

  1. 120 Volt AC Powered - This type of compressor typically has more power, however the trade-off is it must be plugged into a standard household AC outlet which limits its portability.
  2. 12 Volt DC Plug - This type of tire inflator is the most common. It simply plugs into a cigarette lighter or 12V accessory jack. The limitation of this type of connection is that it can only support a smaller compressor that draws less than 15 amps. The engine should be kept running while inflating tires to ensure enough power is supplied and the vehicle battery is not drained.
  3. 12 Volt DC Direct Clamps - This compressor typically connects directly to the vehicle's battery using alligator clamps. Much more powerful air compressors can be used with a direct connection. For example, the powerhouse VIAIR 440P tire inflator needs up to 44 amps. As with the 12V plug connection the direct battery connection also requires the vehicle to be running while the tire inflator is in use.
  4. Cordless (Self-Contained Battery) - These compressors use an internal rechargeable battery for power. Most are small low capacity tire inflators that resemble a cordless drill. There are exceptions, such as the DeWalt DCC020I portable inflator, which is much more powerful than the drill type inflators.

How to Inflate Tires

First, you'll need an air compressor, or one of the portable 12v tire inflators reviewed here. If you want a real hard workout that seems to last forever, you could even use a hand air pump to fill your car tires.

​You'll also want a decent quality tire gauge and the proper air chuck or air gun to fit your tire valves. Something ​similar to the one shown here would be a good choice. Depending on the accuracy of your compressor's air pressure gauge you could get by without one, but it makes the job much easier.

It is recommended that you check all tires including the spare at least once per month. ​The best time to check and inflate your tires is while they are cold ​after the car has been sitting for a minimum of three hours, because driving creates heat in the tire which expands the air and raises the tire pressure.

Quick Tip:  We recommend that you keep your vehicle running while using your compressor. This will prevent your battery from discharging and insure that your 12V portable air compressor has the optimum DC voltage and current capacity that it requires to operate at peak efficiency.

​How Much Air Should I Put in My Tires?

​Your tires have the maximum pressure in PSI listed on the sidewall of the tire, however the maximum pressure is not necessarily the optimal tire pressure. Recommended tire pressure can be found in your owners manual, in addition, most cars have a sticker located inside the driver's side door jam or glove box that specifies the recommended tire size and pressure for that specific vehicle.

If you don't have a recommended tire pressure sticker then 32 to 35 PSI is a good rule of thumb for common automotive tires. ​RV and truck tires are often inflated to 50 to 60 PSI and many commercial tires are even higher up to 120 PSI or so.

​Either use a portable AC powered air compressor or one of the convenient 12v air compressors for inflating tires reviewed above to make sure you have all of your tires evenly inflated to the proper pressure for your vehicle, tires and load.

Under Inflated Tires Will?

​Under inflated tires are dangerous. Under inflation is a leading cause of premature tire failure. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration many vehicles on the road today are driving with at least one under inflated tire.

Properly inflating your tires can save you as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel. Yet only 19 percent of consumers properly inflate their tires. That means four out of five consumers are wasting money because of underinflated tires!

In addition to being unsafe, low tire pressure also causes uneven wear on the tire and will cost you extra money by requiring tire replacement prematurely and reducing your vehicle's MPG.

​The Bottom Line

​In addition to being safer, properly inflated tires will provide a smoother ride and last longer. With the affordable cost of portable 12​V tire inflators and tire pressure gauges and the relative ease that proper ​tire inflation can be checked and monitored there is no reason you should be driving with low tires. Do yourself a favor and invest in something that you are willing to use ​regularly to check and top off your tires to the recommended PSI value.

If you need to inflate larger RV, truck or tractor tires you might want to check out our comparison of VIAIR's line of heavy duty tire inflators.

Dan Karas

Welcome to my site, I am an avid DIYer and have worked professionally in industrial maintenance for over 40 years.

This vast level of experience affords me an excellent background to provide unbiased reviews and opinions about air powered tools and equipment. 

You will find many useful tips and product reviews as you explore AIRpsi.com

Dan Karas

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