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.
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
VIAIR 00085 85P Portable Air Compressor
CFM @ 0 PSI
Max Tire Size
Plugs Into 12V Outlet
Great Amazon Reviews!
VIAIR 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
Direct 12 Volt Battery Clamps
Inflate 33" Tires
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
Max Tire Size
Digital Air Gauge
Thousands of 5 Star Reviews
AmazonBasics AC010178C Portable Air Compressor
CFM @ 0 PSI
Inflates larger Tires
Digital Air Gauge
Kensun-EHRComp-A58B 12V/120V AC/DC Portable Compressor
Max Air Flow
Dual Voltage AC/DC
Analog Air Gauge
Hundreds of 5 Star Reviews
Best 12V Tire Inflators - Top 5
Viair 85P Inflator Review
Viair 88P Compressor Review
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Review
AmazonBasics AC010178C Review
Kensun AC/DC Tire Inflator Review
How to Inflate Tires
How Much Air Do I Put In My Tires?
Underinflated Tires Will?
The Bottom Line
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
Produces an air output of 1.28 CFM in free air with 60 PSI maximum pressure.
This is a good quality tire inflation compressor considering price.
The 85P is competitively priced and usually retails under $50
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.
VIAIR 85P Air Compressor
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
1.47 CFM in free air with 120 PSI maximum.
Quality tire compressor considering price.
The 88P usually retails around $60
The Viair 88P is an good choice portable tire inflator for many average users. We rate it 4.5 stars.
VIAIR 88P Air Compressor
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:
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.
1.06 CFM in free air with 100 PSI maximum.
Reasonable quality compressor considering the budget price.
The AT-010-1Z usually retails around $35
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.
EPAuto AT-010-1Z UPC 707129800176
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:
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
2.12 CFM in free air with 120 PSI maximum pressure.
Decent quality compressor for the money.
The AmazonBasics AC010178C usually retails around $60
Amazon’s AC010178C inflator is powerful for its size and price. We gave the AmazonBasics AC010178C an overall rating of 4.5 stars.
AmazonBasics AC010178C Inflator
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
0.71CFM in free air running on AC power with 100 PSI maximum pressure.
The Kensun is a reasonable quality compressor considering the price.
The A58B is a very affordable option and usually retails for around $50
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.
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.
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):
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
Plenty of power to inflate auto and small truck tires.
Excellent quality compressor for the price.
The bare DCC020I usually retails around $120
This is an excellent inflator with versatile triple power options. We gave the DeWALT DCC020I an overall rating of 4.5 stars.
DeWALT DCC020I Inflator
There are basically 4 types of portable tire inflation compressors.
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.
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 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.
In addition to being safer, properly inflated tires will provide a smoother ride and last longer. With the affordable cost of portable 12V 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.
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.
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