Keeping your car tires inflated to the proper psi isn't just about ride comfort -- safety is a major concern when on the road with underinflated tires. Car tire pumps are small electric pumps that can be stored in your vehicle for use when the need arises. Just because you can fill your tires at the nearest gas station doesn't mean you shouldn't have a pump in your car at all times.
If you're ready to choose a car tire pump, our buying guide can help you make the best choice. We even included reviews of a few of our favorites, like our choice for best of the best, EPAuto's 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump. It's a quick and quiet way to get your tires inflated and get you back on the road.
Considerations when choosing car tire pumps
Most car tire pumps have a maximum of around 30 or 35 psi. While this is good enough for small cars and other household items, you might need something stronger for larger jobs. Some heavy-duty pumps go to 100 or even 150 psi, which is strong enough for just about any size vehicle you might own.
Car tire pumps come in different sizes. The most convenient pumps are those that are a foot long or less, since they can be stored in the trunk of your car without too much trouble. Some pumps include a carrying case that actually more than doubles the size of the pump. If you want a carrying case but don't want it to take up added space in your car, opt for one that comes with a smaller case.
Pumps that are cigarette lighter compatible are the most lightweight options available. They usually weigh between one and two pounds. Some models can weigh up to five pounds, or even more. Think about your own physical capabilities when choosing the weight of your car tire pump.
Most tire pump cases are made from ABS plastic, powder-coated steel, aluminum, or stainless steel. If you think you'll need your pump on a regular basis, choose a stronger metal material that won't crack or buckle under pressure.
Car tire pumps are generally simple to understand and control. Some come with backlit LCD screens that are much easier to read and operate in low light. These can be a huge help if you're filling your tires at night.
Cord and hose length
The rule of thumb for cord and hose length on your tire pump is that the longer the are, the more versatile they are. The last thing you need when you have a flat tire is a power outlet that's too far away to reach. Most power cords on car tire pumps are approximately 10 feet long, and hoses are usually around two feet in length.
Most car tire pumps can be powered by a standard electrical outlet, the cigarette lighter in your car, or both. It's best to get a pump that includes a cigarette-lighter adapter, as you might need to use the pump when you're stranded somewhere without access to an outlet.
Some car tire pumps include a carrying case. This is a convenient way to keep the power cord and air hose from getting tangled when not in use. While some carrying cases are the same size as your pump, others are substantially larger, which can be unwieldy when trying to store them.
Most car tire pumps cost between $15 and $80. For $15, you'll find tire pumps that are basic models that usually don't include a carrying case. For $45, you can find a pump with a backlit display and decent connectors. If you spend $80 on your pump, you can get a dual AC/DC power capability and a longer electrical cord and air hose.
Q. How do I know my tires' proper psi inflation?
A. Most tires have the proper inflation details stamped on the outside of the tire. It's usually also printed on a sticker on the inside door frame of your vehicle.
Our take: A good mid-range all-around tire pump for everyday use.
What we like: Cigarette-lighter compatible. Maximum PSI rating of 150. Includes multiple adapters.
What we dislike: Works slowly.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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