Taking care of your tyres is one of the more neglected areas of car maintenance, which is a shame really, because good tyres can lead to fantastic performance gains and fuel economy when you drive.
A big part of tyre care is maintaining correct pressure, which is the job of a tyre inflator. Of course, it is also indispensable in an emergency flat tyre situation.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the best tyre inflators you can buy in the UK. We’ll also delve more in-depth on how to buy a tyre inflator, the stuff to look out for and the pitfalls to avoid.
The Best Tyre Inflators
|Product||Power Source||Time to Inflate||Our Rating|
|Ring RAC635 12v Digital Air Compressor||12v||3 mins||4.6|
|Ring RAC900||Car battery||90 seconds||4.9|
|Portable battery||4-7 mins||5.0|
|Oasser Tyre Inflator||Portable battery||6 mins||4.7|
|Ring RTC1000||12v||2 mins||4.9|
|Ryobi R18I-o||Battery (sold separately)||2 mins 15 secs||4.8|
- Inflation Speed: 3 mins for 13” tyre from 0 to 35 PSI
- Air Hose Length: 70 cm
- Power Cord Length: 3.5 metre
- Power Source: 12v (socket or car cigarette lighter port)
The Ring RAC635 is an award-winning tyre inflator, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a practical and easy to use inflator that can be used in your daily life.
The RAC635 is reasonably compact and portable. The design is pleasing on the eye with yellow buttons that are easy to press. The LCD screen is bright enough and displays the PSI value in large numbers.
The controls are simple to use. You just turn the dial to set your preferred PSI setting, then turn the unit on. The RAC635 will continue running until the tyre reaches the target pressure, then the unit will shut itself off. The inflator requires a 12v power source, which your cigarette lighter port will be happy to provide—no need to worry about opening the bonnet and connecting it up to your car battery.
The built-in LED lighting is bright enough to use even when there are no other sources of light present in your environment. In addition, it can also be set to SOS mode, making it blink red to alert passersby.
The RAC 635 isn’t a powerful tyre inflator, but it’s not terribly underpowered either if you stick with the standard 30 – 35 PSI tyres. It’s good enough to inflate these in as little as 3 minutes, but falls flat in higher PSIs, even as little as 45 PSI. Nevertheless, its performance is good enough to warrant a permanent place in your boot.
So in practice, the Ring RAC635 is an inflator that’s good for general purposes for the vast majority of people that owning cars with standard tyres. Or you can also have it as an inflator in the house for things such as bicycle tyres or inflatable pools.
- Rapid inflation times
- Easy to use
- Compact and portable
- Low maximum PSI
Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
- Max Pressure: 150 PSI
- Inflation Speed: 4 minutes for R15 tyres from 0 to 35 PSI
- Power Source: 12v
- Duty Cycle: max of 8 minutes before cooling down
SKEY is a multipurpose inflator that works for tyres and a variety of other inflatables. The multipurpose nozzles come with different attachments for various purposes. It also conveniently has a deflating tire nozzle.
The SKEY sports a very modern black and yellow hard plastic exterior which resembles a jet pack. Both the air hose and power cable are neatly stowed away in their respective compartments when not in use. Everything is elegant and well-designed, from the metallic nozzles to the blue LCD display. The latter is particular is easy to read, even at night or over the glare of the sun.
The inflation power of the SKEY is excellent, and it can fully inflate in around 4 minutes for standard R15 tyres. It’s not the fastest in the world, but it’s a reasonable figure. The only drawback is that the motor of the SKEY is somewhat overworked, giving it a higher duty cycle. You can only use the SKEY to inflate for around 8 minutes before needing to be cooled down.
When you’re not inflating, SKEY also doubles as a way to monitor the PSI rating of your tyres. Connect it up, and the pressure will be displayed on the LCD screen, telling you right away if you need to top up or not. Bright LED lights also double as flashlights for use at night.
Overall, we think that you will be pleased with the performance and functionality of the SKEY digital tyre inflator. It’s fantastic for all-purpose use in the house, or as your go-to during emergencies.
- High maximum pressure
- Decent inflation speed
- Compact and durable design
- Can only run continuously for 8 minutes
Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
- Inflation Speed: 90 seconds for 13” tyre from 0 – 35 PSI
- Maximum Pressure: 100 PSI
- Air Hose Length: 7 metres
- Power Cable Length: 2.4 metres
- Power Source: direct to car battery
The Ring RAC900 is a professional-grade tyre inflator with a matching power to boot. It can inflate tyres in as fast as 90 seconds, up to 2 – 3 times faster than most inflators in the market. No wonder it’s a favourite among commercial garages and car enthusiasts.
The look of the RAC900 screams heavy-duty and professionalism. It bares the motor pump in all its glory, without hiding it behind an exterior casing. It has a metal body with brass connectors, which is much more hardy. A thin but durable handle makes carrying it around easier. This tyre inflator is rugged with an anti-vibration base for stability, and waterproof toggle so you can use it in all weather conditions.
The RAC900 comes with a 7-metre long air hose, suitable for even larger vehicles like motorhomes and trailers. Of course, it’s powerful enough to handle the tyres of such vehicles, although it will take longer than 90 seconds.
With all that power, the RAC900 does need to be clipped to the mains of your car battery, which shouldn’t be a problem, as you’re probably comfortable going under the bonnet if you own an inflator of this calibre.
If you’re looking for the most powerful tyre inflator money can buy, the Ring RAC900 should be your top pick. It packs pressure and versatility in a surprisingly small package.
- Top-notch performance with high inflation speed
- Long air hose and power cable
- Heavy-duty body with thermal and water protection
- Analogue dials
Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
- Airflow: 35 L / min
- Inflation Speed: 4 – 7 minutes for R15
- Maximum Pressure: 150 PSI
- Power Source: 2000 mAh battery
The Peztio Portable Tyre Inflator is an ultra-compact inflator that doesn’t look at all like an inflator. In fact, it’s more like a multifunctional device more than anything.
What we like best about the Peztio is that it’s ultra-portable. It looks like a power bank and is just as handy. You can quickly put it in your handbag, or in the glove compartment of your car.
Despite its size, the Peztio does pack quite a punch. It has an airflow of 35 L / min. It’s strong enough to inflate a typical car tyre in around 4 – 7 minutes. It’s not blazingly fast, but it’s actually impressive for an inflator this small. What we can say is that it works exceptionally well.
In addition to being a great air compressor, the Peztio also boasts several useful functions. It has a long-lasting LED light that you can use as an emergency flashlight. It’s a portable air pressure gauge which you can use on the fly. And you can even use its 2000 mAh battery to charge your mobile devices.
We absolutely love the Peztio Portable Tyre Inflator and it should be a mainstay whenever you make long driving trips. It’s a portable inflator, pressure gauge, emergency flashlight, and power bank all in one. What’s there to hate?
- Ultra-compact and portable
- Has multiple useful functions
- Fast airflow and maximum pressure
- Slightly less powerful
Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
- Inflation Speed: 6 minutes for R14 from 0 to 35 PSI
- Maximum Pressure: 120 PSI
- Air Hose Length: 15 cm
- Power Source: 2000 mAh battery
The Oasser might be a fearsome-looking device, but it’s actually an easy to use handheld tyre inflator. It doesn’t have a long air hose like most inflators.
Instead, you take the inflator to the tyre you want to inflate. Admittedly, it’s a much more streamlined process. It frees you up from having to manage long cables. Luckily it is light and handy enough that it’s not usually a problem.
It is cordless and runs off a 2000 mAh battery, so it’s easy to carry it around from tyre to tyre. The battery capacity is enough to inflate 4 tyres on a single charge, which should be enough for emergencies. Recharging is done via USB. It’s actually enjoyable to use like you’re firing a gun. The trigger acts as the button to start the inflation process.
Using it is intuitive, as well. Settings and target pressures can be adjusted via the small LCD screen, where you can also monitor your tyre’s pressure. The pump goes to work and automatically stops when it reaches target pressure.
It’s pretty flexible as well, with three different valve fittings to inflate anything from a basketball to a bicycle tyre.
The Oasser is sufficiently powerful, taking about 6 minutes to fill up a standard R14 tyre. It’s a little bit on the slow side, though, in our opinion, especially for the price point. Many other inflators can fill up a tyre at half the speed.
But other than that, the Oasser is a brilliant inflator. It’s handy enough to take with you in the car, ready to be whipped out when needed. It’s also fantastic in your garage.
- Handy and lightweight
- Easy and intuitive to use
- Automatic shutoff
- Slower inflation speed
- Short air hose
Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
- Air Flow: 35 L / min
- Inflation Speed: 3 minutes
- Air Hose Length: 3.5 metres
- Power Cord Length: 3.5 metres
- Power Source: 12v
The TIreTek RX-I is an excellent cost-effective solution if you own a larger car. The longer air hose length of 3.5 metres, combined with the equally long power cable, means you’re free to move this around to access any tyre anywhere in your car.
The RX-I is an all-rounder, sporting a fast 35 L / min or airflow, which is capable of completely filling up a flat standard tyre in 3 minutes. It can handle not just cars but also tyres from trailers and motorhomes.
This tyre inflator is powered by a 12v outlet that you simply plug into your car’s cigarette lighter socket. It even has two USB ports, so you can charge up to two devices in the RX-I, effectively making it into a big power bank.
The hose easily screws into your tyres, and you can instantly monitor the pressure if its at optimal levels. It also includes an adapter set with 4 different nozzles for filling basketballs, inflatable pools, flotation devices, and other inflatables.
Other features include a bright LED light for night use, and a noise and vibration reduction technology that makes the RX-I much more stable even during operation.
And best of all is the included free carrying case for neatly stowing the inflator away in your garage or your car boot.
Overall, the TireTek RX-I is an excellent all-rounder, with reliable performance and long hoses for freedom of movement.
- Fast inflation speed
- Sturdy carrying case
- Long air hose and power cable
- LED light is not that bright
Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
- Inflation Speed: 2 minutes for 13” tyre
- Air Hose Length: 70 cm
- Power Cord Length: 3.5 metre
- Power Source: 12v socket
The Ring RTC1000 can lay claim to being one of the most rapid and accurate tyre inflators available.
It can fill a tyre as fast as 2 minutes for a standard 13” tyre. That’s very fast, especially if you compare other models in its price range. It’s also reasonably accurate, with an accuracy of 1 PSI, give or take. This truly is a rapid inflator.
The visual design of the RTC1000 is minimal, yet it’s incredibly easy to use. The large, backlit LCD screen allows you to see the PSI readings very clearly, even at night or against the sun. A progress bar clues you in on how your inflation is going, which is a nice touch.
The RTC1000 also has one of the longest power cables and air hoses. This gives you the freedom to move around and fill any of the four tyres of your car. You can also reasonably use this with an RV tyre (especially given how fast it inflates). However, you might need to cover more ground in between wheels.
And storage is a blast, too. The power cord rewinds into a special compartment inside the RTC1000 body for convenience. At the same time, the air hose also folds on the side. Then finally, you can stow it away inside the included carrying case for safekeeping.
All in all, the Ring RTC1000 is yet another fine inflator from the acclaimed manufacturer. It’s well designed and works exceedingly well, and it’s accurate to boot.
- Rapid inflation speed
- Accurate to 1 PSI
- Storage is neat and easy
- Carrying case included
- Produces a slight noise
Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
- Inflation Speed: 2 minutes 15 seconds for a standard tyre
- Power Source: none (battery sold separately)
- Maximum Pressure: 150 PSI
The Ryobi R18I-0 is a straightforward, no-nonsense tyre inflator that focuses on performance instead of the bells and whistles. And it’s a proven hard worker: it can inflate a standard tyre in a little over 2 minutes.
This is an inflator that gives you all the inflating power you’ll ever need, so much that it seems excessive at times. When outfitted with a battery (sold separately), this unit can keep running for a very long time. You can keep inflating dozens of inflatables, and it will still keep on going. It also functions as a deflator machine.
The controls of the R18I-0 are pretty straightforward. It merely allows you to set a target pressure, and let the unit turn off automatically once it’s reached. Thankfully, there’s also a digital screen where you can monitor your tyre’s pressure. On the negative side though, the screen is pretty small, which is one of the significant drawbacks of the R18I-0.
The other big drawback is the lack of any ‘essential’ features like LED lights or USB ports. It might seem to be nitpicking, but those are common feature nowadays, and it’s a shame the R18I-0 doesn’t have them.
It also can’t be used out of the box as it doesn’t have batteries included; those will have to be bought separately, although the intention for the omission was to bring the price down. Whether that’s a good thing or not comes down personal preference. If you already own Ryobi products, then the good news is that you can use the battery packs from those as they are compatible with the R18I-0.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for power, you’ll find it here. The Ryobi R18I-0 is suitable more for home and garage use rather than a portable, emergency inflator.
- Exceptional power with fast inflation speed
- Has a long battery life
- Straightforward to use
- Batteries need to be bought separately
Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
What to Look for in a Tyre Inflator
Before you even start looking for an inflator, you need to consider first the tyre size you plan to use it for. The air and pressure needs of a small family car tyre will be vastly different from that used in a motorhome, so you need to buy accordingly.
Every tyre size will have a corresponding recommended pressure, depending on whether it’s used in the front or the rear. The Toyota Prius, for example, has R15 tyres, with recommended pressures of 36 psi for the front and 35 psi for the back.
You can check your owner’s manual to see the tyre size your car uses, which will also list pressure recommendations. Once you know this, then you’ll have better information on which tyre inflator you have to get.
If you have multiple cars with varying tyre sizes, we recommend buying an inflator that’s compatible with the biggest sized tyre.
This is one of the crucial things you need to consider when buying a tyre inflator.
Inflation speed is a measure of how fast (in minutes) the inflator can fill a tyre from being fully flat (0 PSI) to its maximum pressure. Inflation speeds can be anywhere from 4 – 6 minutes, with the fastest ones at 90 seconds.
Inflation speed will matter depending on your purpose and circumstance. If you intend to use your tyre inflator as an emergency pump for use in case you have a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere, then a fast inflation speed is essential. You want to be back on the road as soon as possible.
However, if you mostly use it in the garage for regular maintenance of your car tyre’s pressure, then you can get away with a longer inflation speed.
Note, though, that even the slowest tyre inflators will still take minutes, so getting such units might not be so bad.
Some tyre inflators will also list the airflow rate instead of, or apart from, the inflation speed. This is measured in cubic feet per minute – a measure of the amount of air that flows for a set period. The higher this number, the more air can flow and the faster the tyre inflates as a result.
Tyre inflators will have a maximum pressure that they can handle, which is in turn, a measure of the air compressor’s strength. Typical car tyres require pressure in the range of 30 – 35 psi, with larger ones hitting 40 psi. Demanding tyres such as those used in an motorhome will need upwards of 80 psi.
Luckily, tyre inflators will have maximum pressure ratings much higher than this. You can easily buy one which can handle pressures from 90 psi all the way to 150 psi.
This is an important consideration that will dictate where you can use tyre inflators. You have both portable and non-portable options, with different options within each category.
Most tyre inflators meant for use in the field can use your car’s battery as the primary power source. Some compact tyre inflators only need to be plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter port, which is very convenient and easy for anyone to use. These same inflators will often also include support for a standard electrical plug, which is convenient if you want to use your inflator at home or in your garage.
For more powerful inflators, they will need to be plugged directly into your car’s battery via alligator clamps. However, you would need to pop open your bonnet to use them, something that not everyone might be comfortable doing.
The most convenient tyre inflators are those which have a battery of their own. These are true portable units that you can use anytime and anywhere, even if your car battery fails. Some even have USB ports which you can use to charge your devices.
Air Hose Length
The length of the air hose is an essential consideration that few car owners ever consider until it’s too late. If the hose isn’t long enough, it will be very inconvenient to inflate a larger vehicle like a motorhome. You might need to move the inflator around as you go from tyre to tyre.
For your standard cars like a saloon, a hose length of around 10 feet should suffice. However, if you have to work with bigger vehicles like motorhomes and trailers, then you should get a longer hose of at least 60 feet.
Tyre inflators will often have an LED light installed, so you can still inflate a flat tyre at night in the middle of nowhere. This is especially useful in low light conditions like a thick fog.
A work light is also meant as a safety feature. It will notify cars well in advance of your presence, so they can avoid you (or even help you out). This is essential for safely operating if you happen to break down in the middle of the road.
The newer tyre inflators will feature a digital LED or LCD screen instead of the analogue gauges of older inflators. The digital version has the advantage of being more precise and also easier to read. Backlighting can also allow you to see the PSI readings in the dark, great when you’re working at night.
The best tyre inflators are those that you can use for multiple purposes, not just for your car. You can also use them to inflate bicycle tyres, beach balls, and other sports equipment.
If you want to have the best value for money, look for tyre inflators that feature multiple nozzle attachments that fit a variety of inflatables.
More advanced tyre inflators will have a slew of automated features that not only make using them convenient but safer as well.
Most inflators should have a way to detect the tyre’s pressure and automatically shut off once the desired level is reached. This is meant both for safety and convenience. You can just leave the unit running, and it will turn itself off, reducing the risk of overinflating the tyre.
Most tyre inflators can’t run continuously; they need a cool-off period after operating for some time. This is called the duty cycle. Shorter duty cycles will require less cool-off time, which is useful if you need to inflate lots of things at once.
If the tyre inflator is listed as having a 50% duty cycle, it doesn’t need a cool-off period.
Tyre inflators are best when they’re as small as possible. Not only can you conveniently stow it away in your car without taking up too much space, but they’re also more comfortable to carry around as you’re inflating the four tyres of your car.
Some tyre inflators will also have mini storage compartments where you can neatly store the power cable and any other extra accessories you might need.
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