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Published Jan. 25, 2021

It never fails. You’re already running late, racing out the door to try to get to work, school, the airport, or some other important appointment only to find that you get into your car and see the low tire pressure light come on. Why does it seem like low tire pressure is only ever an issue when you’re already pressed for time? Now you have to take even more time out of your day to find and pay for an air dispenser at a local gas station.

This is when having a handy and compact AC/DC tire inflator in your garage or trunk can be a lifesaver. It can save you valuable time and money at the service station or mechanic. If you’re on the lookout for an AC/DC tire inflator, the crew at Car Bibles has done the heavy lifting for you in terms of research. We’ve got our list of top picks, as well as a convenient buying guide that will have you choosing the ideal AC/DC tire inflator in no time.

Our Methodology

AC/DC tire inflators are not all created equally, so the top picks were selected by taking an in-depth look at their design, PSI capacity, durability, and price. Overall reliability and performance, as well as manufacturer reputation and trustworthiness, were also major factors. Only companies with a solid track record of delivering reliable and durable products were chosen for this list.

Best AC/DC Tire Inflator Reviews & Recommendations

It features a 100 PSI capacity that’s accurate to within plus or minus one PSI. If you’re looking for the ideal combination of compact sizing, reliability, accuracy, and a decent price point, our top pick is definitely the Jaco SmartPro 2.0 AC/DC Digital Tire Inflator. It features a 100 PSI capacity that’s accurate to within plus or minus one PSI. The pre-set, built-in digital air gauge makes it super easy to set your target air pressure and the unit automatically shuts off once it’s reached, removing any guesswork on your part. This compact tire inflator is capable of inflating car, truck, and SUV tires up to 65 PSI and bike tires up to 100 PSI, thanks to the included Presta valve adapter.

This unit also delivers air relatively quickly, at a rate of 30 liters per minute, getting you back on the road quickly. The digital backlit display is easy to read. It also comes equipped with a generously lone 24-inch air hose, a 10-foot 12-volt DC power cord, a bright LED flashlight, and a lifetime warranty as added bonus features. You can also use the built-in air bleeder valve to relieve pressure from over-inflated tires. The one drawback is that the long cords can be a pain to store properly when not in use.

Specs
  • Brand: Jaco
  • Model: 5824086580
  • Weight: 4.36 pounds
PROS

Preset digital pressure gauge

Lifetime warranty

Highly accurate

CONS

Concern over product longevity

Can be difficult to properly store cable and power cord

The Black+Decker 20V Max Cordless Tire Inflator is a compact and durable unit that’s great for taking on the go. With adapters for sports equipment, air mattresses, bicycle tires, water toys, and more, this is a good option for frequent campers and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s also offered at a refreshingly low price point, making it an even more attractive purchase. With high-pressure and high-volume output, it can inflate tires and toys quickly.

Like others on the list, the easy-to-read and user-friendly digital pressure gauge lets you set the desired pressure and the automatic shut-off ensures that you don’t overinflate. This cordless unit uses the 20V Max system, although it doesn’t come with a battery. You’ll need to purchase that separately. Battery placement for proper function of the unit can sometimes be a little finicky. Also, cord storage on this one can be less neat and organized than with some other models.

Specs
  • Brand: Black+Decker
  • Model: BDINF20C
  • Weight: 5.2 pounds
PROS

Powerful, yet compact design

Affordable

Functions with three power sources

CONS

Cord storage is clumsy

AC cord is quite short and usually requires an extension cord

The Craftsman V20 Cordless Inflator gets points for being a relatively affordable tire inflator that offers the ease and convenience of a more expensive, cordless option. Change from DC to AC power with a quick flip of a switch, or use the Craftsman 20-volt battery pack for cordless function. Keep in mind that the battery pack is sold separately from the unit. Like most other tire inflators on the list, this one includes adapters that will allow you to inflate much more than just tires.

Also, like other options on the list, this unit features a digital display with automatic shutoff once the desired pressure is achieved. While this model is priced somewhat lower than other cordless inflators, it does lose points for being less reliable when on battery function than some other options. Its housing is also not as durable as some other choices.

Specs
  • Brand: Craftsman
  • Model: CMCE520B
  • Weight: 4.9 pounds
PROS

Multiple power sources

Compact design

User-friendly setup

CONS

Less rugged than some other models

Unit tips over easily during use

If you like having options, the DeWalt 20-Volt Max Tire Inflator is for you. This durable inflator can run on 12-volt DC, 110-volt AC, or the DeWalt 20-volt Max battery, giving you one of the most versatile tire inflators on the market. It’s a great option for home use as well as applications on the job site that don’t require a large, loud, bulky air compressor. With a maximum output of 160 PSI, this is also one of the more powerful portable tire inflators on the list.

This model features a heavy-duty threaded chuck and a high-pressure rubber hose for a secure connection to tires. It also offers high pressure, quick inflation with automatic shutoff. A surprisingly compact, yet bright LED light allows for easy inflation at night or in low light conditions. On-board accessories include adapters for inflating sporting equipment, water toys, and air mattresses. This model doesn’t include a 20-volt max battery, so you’ll need to purchase that separately. It’s also one of the priciest on the list.

Specs
  • Brand: DeWalt
  • Model: DCC020IB
  • Weight: 6.39 pounds
PROS

Super durable outer housing

Offers cordless functioning

Max PSI of 160

CONS

Pricey

Heavier than some other models

Our Verdict on AC/DC Tire Inflators

If you’re looking for a reliable, powerful, well-priced AC/DC tire inflator, our top pick has got to be the Jaco SmartPro 2.0 AC/DC Digital Tire Inflator. It features a 100 PSI capacity that’s accurate to within plus or minus one PSI. The pre-set, built-in digital air gauge makes it super easy to set your target air pressure and the unit automatically shuts off once it’s reached.

What to Consider When Buying AC/DC Tire Inflators

If you’ve got finicky tire pressure, having a portable and efficient AC/DC tire inflator on hand can save you valuable time and money at the gas station. Not to mention it’s great for inflating sporting equipment, air mattresses, water toys, and more. There are a few things to consider when selecting a well-designed AC/DC tire inflator that will get the job done quickly and won’t leave you flat when you need it the most.

Types of AC/DC Tire Inflators

Analog 

At one time, this type of tire inflator was the only kind around. It relies on a standard gauge to read the pressure. Typically, an analog tire inflator can generate as much pressure as any other type of system since this relies on the compressor itself. The drawback is that they tend to be less accurate and require more guesswork on your part than their digital counterparts. Analog tire inflators also lack the automatic shut-off feature, and require greater supervision. They’re usually quite affordable, however.

Digital 

Possibly the most popular type of AC/DC tire inflator, this type of system uses an LCD to showcase the pressure. Often, it will give you the option of changing the readout metric between KPA and PSI. Typically, the screen will be backlit and take up a small space either at the top or on the front of the inflator’s body. 

Digital inflators often incorporate extra features, designed to optimize convenience. The preset function lets you tell the system how much pressure is needed. It inflates until it reaches that point and automatically shuts off. This reduces the chances of overheating. Often, digital systems are more precisely calibrated, letting you more accurately fill the tire.

AC/DC Tire Inflator Key Features

Maximum PSI

Maximum PSI is important to note depending on the type of tire you’re wanting to inflate. For most standard cars, trucks, and SUVs, at tire pressure between 35 and 40 PSI is sufficient. The maximum PSI rating on your tire inflator is indicative of how quickly this tire pressure will be able to be reached. For example, an inflator with a max PSI of 100 will inflate your tires considerably slower than an AC/DC tire inflator with a max PSI of 160. 

Cord Length  

If you don’t have the luxury of purchasing a battery-operated cordless AC/DC tire inflator, the length of the AC cord or the DC cord is going to be important to note. You don’t want to get stuck with a cord that is too short and won’t reach your tires. Likewise, be sure to purchase an inflator with an air hose that’s long enough to reach all of your tires without over-stretching.

Automatic Shutoff

Automatic shutoff pertains to two different functions on a good AC/DC tire inflator. Firstly, if you have a digital tire inflator, most times the unit will shut off once your desired tire pressure is reached, removing any guesswork on your part or the risk of overinflating. Secondly, a good quality tire inflator will offer an automatic shutoff feature to prevent the unit from overheating and causing a fire hazard. This is a basic safety feature that you should be sure is included in any unit that you purchase.

Portability

If you’re looking for an AC/DC tire inflator that you only want to keep in your garage or carport, portability is less of a concern than if you’re looking for a unit that you can store in your trunk for on-the-go emergency fill-ups or to take camping and on outdoor excursions. You can get a durable and efficient tire inflator that comes in a surprisingly compact and lightweight design that’s ideally suited for storing in your vehicle.

AC/DC Tire Inflator Pricing 

You can get a good budget-friendly AC/DC tire inflator for between $40 and $70. It may be digital or analog and it may or may not come with accessory adapters that allow you to inflate other items. These units also usually top out at 100 PSI. For $75-$125, you can get a reliable, powerful, compact, and digital AC/DC tire inflator that will offer lots of accessory attachments. They may offer up to 150 PSI. If you’re looking for a cordless, battery-powered AC/DC tire inflator, or a higher maximum PSI, expect to pay upwards of $150. 

The Questionnaire 

Car Bibles answers all your burning questions.

Q: What is the fastest tire inflator?

A: The fastest tire inflators usually have a maximum PSI rating of 150-160. They will be able to inflate a car tire from flat to 35 PSI in as little as 4-5 minutes. Look for a flow rate of 35 liters per minute or higher. 

Q: Can my AC/DC tire inflator drain my car battery?

A: When using the DC power supply on your tire inflator, it will be plugged directly into your car’s 12-volt DC power outlet, so yes, it can drain your car battery. If you have a significant amount of tire filling to do, it’s recommended to leave your car’s engine running to avoid excess battery drain. Alternatively, you can use the 110-volt AC plug and run the tire inflator directly from your home’s electrical supply.

Q: How long can a tire inflator run?

A: The strain on a portable AC/DC tire inflator motor can be pretty significant, causing the unit to overheat quickly and the compressor to shut down in order to cool off. Most AC/DC tire inflators can run between 5-15 minutes before needing to cool down. This is usually plenty of time to top off most vehicle tires.

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