Portable Tire Inflators

by Lori Straus

You should inspect your tire pressure monthly and top up your tires with air as needed to decrease uneven wear and help your car drive more efficiently. However, heading to the gas station for a top up rarely tops drivers’ priority lists. Portable tire inflators can help. Plus, if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere—which can happen in Canada—with no help around for a while, a portable tire inflator can come in handy. In this article, we will introduce you to this convenient device.

Types of Portable Tire Inflators

You will typically find three types of tire inflators, categorized by how they charge:

  • 12-volt: These plug into your car’s cigarette lighter/12-volt power source. If you buy this style, make sure the cable is long enough for you to reach all your tires.
  • Cordless: This style of tire inflator is extremely portable and usually runs on a lithium-ion battery. However, monitor the charge, because otherwise you may be without a functioning tire inflator when you’re stuck with a flat tire.
  • Direct power: These attach directly to your car’s battery, but beware: They can drain the battery in about 20 minutes.

Whatever style you choose, be sure to look less at the price and more at the power source. Choose the one you are most comfortable with so that, in case of an emergency, you have one less thing to worry about.

Other Features of Portable Tire Inflators

Blue automobile compressor, standing next to the car wheel. Electric air pump inflates the tire, repaired after puncture.

Once you’ve chosen a charging style, you can consider a host of other features. We’ll list a few here:

  • USB outlet for charging
  • A high-volume hose and different nozzles so you can inflate different objects, e.g., air mattresses, sports equipment, etc.
  • Lightweight vs something bulkier
  • LED flashlight so you can better see what you’re doing
  • Automatic shut off

As you’re shopping, read the product description carefully: some cordless portable tire inflators use battery packs that are interchangeable with that manufacturer’s other products. If you don’t own any of those other products, you may have to purchase the battery and charger separately.

Price Range

Portable tire inflators come in a range of prices. For example, portable tire inflators at Canadian Tire that have been “tested for life in Canada” run the gamut from $30 to $150. Consumer Reports tested cordless portable tire inflators that ranged in price from about $55 USD to $200 USD. As you’re shopping, pay close attention to the features so you’re not paying for something you don’t need but aren’t left with an inadequate device either.

A Convenient Way to Help Yourself

Portable tire inflators can help you keep your tires pumped up as part of your regular at-home car maintenance, and they can get you out of a bind if you’re stuck at the side of the road and either aren’t able to get help or don’t want to wait. With the wide range of prices available, you’re sure to find something that works for both your needs and your budget.