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Sunday, February 5, 2023
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Best portable air compressors for 2023

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Despite how easy it is to use the compressed air machine available at your local gas station, too many people are still riding around on underinflated tires. According to TireRack.com, “If a vehicle’s tires are under-inflated by only 6 psi … the tire’s tread life could be reduced by as much as 25%.” Luckily, it’s more affordable than ever to get your own portable air compressor and fill your tires in your very own driveway. There are options now with built-in flashlights, bike tire and sports attachments, and more. Starting at under $30, these could save you a trip to the gas station for a top-off or a call to AAA for a tow.

VacLife Portable Air Compressor – $29.99 (25% off)

Key features

  • Plugs into your car outlet
  • 11.9-foot power cord
  • Automatically turns off once the pre-set pressure has been achieved
  • Includes built-in LED lighting
  • Includes three additional nozzles for sports balls, air mattresses, bike tires and more
  • “Not applicable for any large vehicles with tire pressure > 50 psi and tire width > 245 MM such as trucks, vans and off-road vehicles”

The VacLife tire inflator plugs into your car’s 12V power outlet with an 11.9-foot power cord to get its juice. It has automatic shutoff capability once it hits your preset PSI level, a built-in LED flashlight, and comes with three additional nozzles for inflatables like sports equipment, bike tires and more. This one is a great budget option but won’t work for large vehicles with tire pressure greater than 50 psi or tire width greater than 245 mm like some trucks and off-road vehicles.


FORTEM Digital Tire Inflator – $29.99

Key features

  • Plugs into your car outlet
  • 14-foot long power cord
  • Includes three nozzle attachments for sports balls, air mattresses, bike tires and more
  • Includes a built-in LED flashlight for nighttime emergencies
  • Includes a one-year warranty
  • Includes carrying case

The FORTEM air compressor stores its 14-foot power cable within itself, making it super portable. The cable itself plugs right into your car’s cigarette lighter port. This inflator comes with multiple attachments for car and bike tires, inflatable toys and more, and has a built-in LED flashlight. Like many others, the FORTEM has automatic shutoff functionality and allows you to set your desired PSI before starting your inflation. It even comes with a 1-year warranty! Learn more about the FORTEM right here.


EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump – $28.87 (33% off)

Key features

  • Best-selling air compressor on Amazon
  • Plugs into the 12-volt DC lighter port 
  • Includes additional valve adapters for sports balls, air mattresses, bike tires and more
  • Does not support truck tires
  • Includes a built-in LED flashlight
  • Automatically turns off once the pre-set pressure has been achieved

The EPAuto air compressor is one of the most popular options out there. It plugs into your car’s 12-volt lighter socket, comes with additional valve adapters for things like basketballs, inflatables, etc., features an automatic shutoff and has a built-in LED flashlight, like so many others. Also, like many of the more portable tire inflator options, this one isn’t recommended for trucks or larger vehicles. Be aware that this air compressor actually has the shortest power cord on our list, clocked at only about 9 feet by a helpful answerer in Amazon’s Q&A section, so if you like a little more slack, this might not be the best choice for you. 


TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor – $39.00 (15% off)

Key features

  • Plugs into a car’s 12-volt cigarette lighter port or a 110/120-volt wall plug
  • 10.5″ power cord
  • Includes four nozzle adaptors for use with cars, RVs, motorcycles, air mattresses, bike tires and more
  • Accuracy of shown pressure is +/- 3 psi
  • Up to 150 psi
  • Automatically turns off once the pre-set pressure has been achieved
  • Features a bright backlit LCD display

The TEROMAS tire inflator is a great choice because it can plug into your car’s 12-volt cigarette lighter plug or a 110/120-volt wall outlet. It can inflate a P195/65R15 tire from 0 to 35 psi in under 4 minutes. The auto-off function automatically turns off the pump once it reaches your desired preset pressure value. This compressor, like many, has a digital display that conveniently shows your tire’s current pressure and a built-in LED flashlight. It comes with three additional adapters and can be used with cars, motorcycles, bikes, air mattresses, balls and more. Learn more here.


AVID POWER Tire Inflator Air Compressor – $69.99 (22% off)

Key features

  • Powered by a rechargeable battery pack or a 12-volt car power adapter (option to be totally cordless)
  • For use with car tires, motorcycle tires, bike tires, inflatable sports balls, pool toys and more
  • Not suitable for large truck tires
  • Accuracy of shown pressure is +/- 1 psi
  • Automatically turns off once the preset pressure has been achieved
  • Includes a carrying bag, air tap and inflating needle

This Avid Power tire inflator is a multi-purpose cordless pump that can be used with most tires, inflatable sports balls and more. It’s a little more expensive than the others on our list, but it’s also a little more convenient, since it doesn’t need to be plugged in. If its battery pack happens to be out of juice when you need it, it also comes with a 12-volt power adapter that can be used to plug it in. The compressor has an automatic stop function with an indicated pressure accuracy of +/- 1 psi, a built-in LED light and comes with its very own tool bag. Be aware that this compressor, like many others, isn’t suitable for large truck tires.

Since we based these selections on user reviews, we’d love to hear if you have anything to add. Do you agree with our picks? Anything else you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments! Happy tire inflating.


What is a portable air compressor?

A portable air compressor is a device that can be stored in your trunk and can be used to add compressed air to your tires, sports balls, pool accessories and more.

Why do you need a portable air compressor for your car?

A huge number of Americans drive around with under-inflated tires. In fact, according to NBC News, up to 32% of vehicles are driving around with at least one tire under-inflated. This can be, at best, bad for your gas mileage and at worst, dangerous. Keeping a portable air compressor in your trunk can remove the barrier of hunting down a compressor at the gas station and help people to keep their tires inflated more easily, with less stress.

How do portable air compressors work?

There are different types of personal air compressors for tires, but the choices in our list work by simply plugging them into the cigarette lighter port in your car and using that power to create air pressure sufficient enough to inflate a tire.

How do you use a portable air compressor?

Most of the best portable air compressors are dead simple to use. Just plug it in, make sure you’re using the right attachment nozzle, attach it to your tire’s air valve and begin pumping air into your tire.

How much does a portable air compressor cost?

Depending on how much power you’ll need, the cost of air compressors can vary significantly. For the options on our list, and others like them, you’re probably looking at a cost around $30 to $100.

Pros and cons of using a portable air compressor?

The main benefit of traveling with a portable air compressor is being able to top off your tires at a moment’s notice. It may take up trunk space that could otherwise be used for other things, but in our opinion the trade off is worth it for peace of mind and safety.

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