Inflate Tires

Best 12 Volt Portable Air Compressors Review

These days tire inflators for cars, trucks, 4×4 and bikes are not the huge and heavy items that they use to be. As a matter of fact, many of them are now made very lightweight and portable. Some of the newer portable air compressors for cars can even inflate a tire up to 150 PSI. That means these devices are more versatile and useful than ever.

In this article we will take a look at some of the best tire inflators in the auto marketplace. These summary reviews are done by compiling information from customer reviews and other sources like “Consumer Reports” Magazine too. When you are finished reading you should have all the important information you need to make a sound air inflator buying decision.

Here are the top 12 volt car plugin air compressors that we came across when doing our research on these handy tire inflation devices:

Comparison Chart


Slime 40022

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Raniaco 12V DC 150PSI

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P.I. Auto Store

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Viair 00073

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EPAuto 12V

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#5. Slime 40022 12-Volt Digital Tire Inflator

Slime 40022 12-Volt Digital Tire Inflator

If you are looking for a small 12v tire inflator with a digital gauge, then this model from Slime may be exactly what you are looking for. It’s compact and lightweight but don’t be fooled because it can still inflate a standard size car tire in less than 6 minutes. Best of all it simply plugs into your cigarette lighter or 12 volt power point in your vehicle.

This handy inflation tool is not only great at filling car tires but it can also be used for bike tires, motorcycle tires and just about any other inflatable item you can think of too. It can inflate any small tire that requires up to 35 PSI of air pressure. It boasts some great features such as an easy to read digital gauge, a bright LED light and an automatic shut off mechanism for when the desired PSI has been reached.

Keep in mind this is not a heavy duty air compressor and it is not sufficient to fill light or heavy duty truck tires. It will however easily fill most standard size car tires and it sets up in less than a minute and is ready to use. The biggest drawback with this portable tire inflator is the fact it can only fill tires that require 35 or less PSI.

#4. Raniaco 12V DC 150PSI

Raniaco 12V DC 150PSI Portable Electric Auto Air Compressor Pump

If you are looking for a cheap tire inflator that is of a good quality and is great for the off-road trips then you should take a closer look at this model. It is also one of the most powerful plugin air compressors on our top review list as it is able to generate up to 150 PSI to fill tires. By comparison, most auto plugin air compressors will not inflate a tire that requires over 100 PSI. There is a lot to like about this product. It has a generous size power cord/air hose length and a built-in LED work light. Its design makes it a very stable platform when running and also helps it to store easily in a trunk too.

You would think that an air tool that has this much pressure generating ability would cost a lot but that is simply not the case. It is one of the most affordable 150 PSI air compressors you will find in the auto supplies market. The biggest drawback with this item is that it has dial readout instead of having an easier to see digital readout. Given the fact that it’s powerful, budget friendly and easy to use we recommend anyone who is in the market for a new compressor to take a closer look at it.

#3. P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator

P.I. Auto Store Premium Digital Tire Inflator – Electric 12v

This is a great air pressure pump for car tires that is easy to use and can be conveniently stored right in your vehicle because of its compact size. It can handle any tire inflation task that requires a pressure of 150 PSI or less. That makes this unit great for filling any size vehicle and small truck tires. Among its more useful features are its easy to use push button design, simple to read digital display and built-in LED work light.

P.I. Auto Store has designed a very versatile car plugin air compressor with this model. It can be used to fill a variety of different tires. Even inflating bike tires with an air compressor like this is not a problem at all. Also, it’s a great unit that can help in resolving those off-road problems which can suddenly happen. One thing that users don’t like about this model is that it is loud when running. This product comes with a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee also.

#2. Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty

Viair 00073 70P Heavy Duty Portable Compressor

This is a powerful and tough small model. It’s a Viair 12v heavy duty air compressor that can easily inflate tires that require up to 100 PSI. Good tire pressure is important and that is why having a tire pump for a car like this one stored in your trunk is a great idea.

Among the beneficial features it has are its durable and corrosion resistant brass twist-on tire chuck and its onboard pressure gauge that will accurately read the current tire pressure when the unit is not running. This tire inflator also comes with a handy carry and storage bag.

There are some other things to like about this product too. For one it has just about the best price point of any car plugin air compressor that is this powerful. Its consistent high rating from user reviews is something worth considering also. One of the concerns is the fact it tends to blow fuses if you attach it to the tire valve stem before turning it on.

#1. EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Pump for Compressor

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump

Here is one of the more rugged and powerful digital air compressors on our top review list. The EPAuto digital tire inflator is made to set up fast to handle any tire inflation job that requires up to 100 PSI. That is enough pressure to fill the tires on most any automobile, 4×4 or light duty truck, especially during your crazy off-road adventures.

It features a cord/air hose combination that is over 9 feet long which should enable you to get to any tire location on a standard size vehicle. Built into is an extremely bright LED torch to help you see when using it at night and its digital display can readout PSI, KPA, BAR and KG/CM.

This unit is really stable when working and does not jump around like some other small compressors for car do. It even comes with a handy carry bag that will also help protect it when it is stored in your trunk. The most detrimental thing about this automotive air compressor is it’s hard to get in its protective storage bag.

Read also: 5 Best Cordless And Rechargeable Tire Inflators

What Is Important When Selecting a 12v Air Compressor?

In order to find the best 12v air compressor for your needs, you will need to focus on several key characteristics of these handy devices. That is why we took the time to make up this informational 12v automatic digital air compressor buying guide.

If you focus your 12v portable air compressor for car tires purchasing on the following key features you stand a good chance of finding a high-volume electric air compressor tire pump that more than adequately meets your needs.

Here are the key features that the top-rated 12v inflator models usually have:

Easy plugin

One of the characteristics of 12 volt air tools that is supposed to be universal is their ease of setup. That means you want a car electric air compressor that easily fits into the cigarette lighter or 12 volt power point in your car. An air compressor that allows you to do this can be made ready to be up and running in no time at all.

Digital/Dial readout

Having a digital readout on your air compressor makes using it super convenient. These tend to allow you to preset your desired tire pressure and they often allow an automatic shutoff to kick in when that desired PSI is reached too. Dial type readouts are harder to use but the tradeoff is they are extremely accurate.

Adequate PSI

You need a device that can generate enough air pressure to fill decent sized tires. At a very minimum, any automotive model that you buy should be able to handle standard car tires that require up to 35 PSI of pressure. A compressor that can generate up to 100 – 150 PSI is even better to have on hand.

Power cord length/Air hose length

There is nothing more frustrating than to not be able to easily reach the tires on your vehicle that you want to fill with your mini device. So make sure the power cord/air hose combination has enough reach to get to all the tires on your vehicle.

Common Problems with Car Tire Inflators

Even the best 12v air pump does not come without some drawbacks. Here are the most common problems you will encounter when using a portable electric air compressor:

  • Slow inflation rate

Even though some 12 volt models can handle filling tires as big as 150 PSI it will take a long time to accomplish this. The higher the PSI required for a tire the more time it will take to fill.

  • Blown fuses

Car electrical systems were not designed to handle the amp draw of portable 12v air compressors on a regular basis. Carry some spare 15 amp fuses with you because you will definitely blow them from time to time.

Read also: How to Fix Your 12v Air Compressor