12v tire inflator

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Bobby Beyer
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12v tire inflator

Post by Bobby Beyer » Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:29 pm

Looking for some recommendations for a 12v tire compressor, can anyone give me a recommendation for a decent one under $50?
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Jayson Woodruff
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Jayson Woodruff » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:50 am

They all suck.

I've only met two 12V compressors that seemed to work well (enough) and last. But both of those I believe would be way above your price range (like $200), and in my opinion are still not worth it.

All the other 'non premium' compressors I've seen do a poor job of inflating tires and usually fry out after a few uses.

I recommend getting an air tank. Fill it up at home and drag it with you. They're bulky, but MUCH quicker than a compressor (pounds of pressure in seconds rather than minutes) and MUCH more reliable (mines 10yrs old, gauge just went out, but repairable).

5gal is very useable. I carry a 10gal and get several events out of one 'charge'. I even bring it to the RallyXes where we sometimes use it to re-bead tires. About $25-$40 at sears, few bucks cheaper at harbor freight. One day I'll buy the Aluminum one, ~$75.

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Bobby Beyer » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:05 am

Thanks for the reply, I have no issues spending more if I'm getting more but that doesn't seem to be the case.

I haven't put much thought into a tank but it seems like the better option if I don't want to replace it continually. Guess it would be a good idea to get a air compressor as well, recommendations on a tank size that can handle light pneumatic tools work?
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Richard Jung » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:14 am

The Viair mid priced models work much better than the older plastic housed compressors in the past. I tired Max's a few years ago and was sold. You may need to use the battery terminals instead of the CLA, since they draw more current.

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Pete Loney » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:32 am

Another option, If your only adding 2-3 pounds per tire, a good bicycle pump is super reliable.

With the Top Peak brand I have, 10 pumps= 1 pound.

Lastly, the most cheapest option is to just air up your tires at the gas station before the event ;)
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by KJ Christopher » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:38 am

Richard Jung wrote:The Viair mid priced models work much better than the older plastic housed compressors in the past. I tired Max's a few years ago and was sold. You may need to use the battery terminals instead of the CLA, since they draw more current.
+1 on Viair. Quiet, fast and powerful.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Jayson Woodruff » Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:17 pm

Bobby Beyer wrote: Guess it would be a good idea to get a air compressor as well, recommendations on a tank size that can handle light pneumatic tools work?
30gal is pretty standard for us garage types. Lots of options out there, you can get ideas of shapes/sizes/costs by looking at Craftsmen's line up, but don't necessarily buy a craftman.

I have an odd ball one. Its a 15gal DeWalt, but uses a tank pressure of 230psi rather than the typical ~140psi then goes through a regulator that doesn't go past 125ish. The tank pressure cycles around 130 to 230psi, so that makes my 15 gal work more like a 25gal tank. I also 'customized' a branch off before the regulator that I use to fill my air tanks. Since this is direct access to the 230psi tank pressure, it fills the tanks within a minute or so rather than 10s of minutes through the regulator and I can get my portable tanks up to 135psi rather than only 100 with a 'normal' compressor.

Works great with air gun and impact wrench (pnumatic impact wrench will change your life). Too much cycling with a grinder or sander, electric tools work better here anyways. Because of the higher pressure and big pressure cycle, I believe the motor runs much longer (but less often) than a more traditional set up. It's also going to be a little pricier, but nicely compact.

I saw a re-branded version too if you don't like DeWalt yellow, can't remember which brand or any price differance.

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Max Hayter » Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:19 pm

Kj, Mike and I use this one. Love it.

http://www.amazon.com/Makita-MAC2400-Bi ... 132&sr=1-2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Bobby Beyer » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:23 pm

Being relatively small tank does it cycle often?
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Max Hayter » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:26 pm

Bobby Beyer wrote:Being relatively small tank does it cycle often?
Yes, but it's pretty quiet. If you add about 5 psi in a tire, it will cycle briefly (about once per tire). It's powerful enough to run a big air gun and pump tires. All I need, and it doesn't take up much space.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Steve Coe » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:14 pm

this is the one you borrowed from me at the last event.

http://www.viaircorp.com/Industrial/90P.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;



good luck

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by KJ Christopher » Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:38 pm

Bobby Beyer wrote:Being relatively small tank does it cycle often?
You may be able to see it in action at the next event. I'm a little behind on putting my car back together.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Q V » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:45 pm

This is the one I have: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-JUS5 ... 0024GR0S8/

Tire inflator, jump starter, mini led light, and cordless. Also, it's orange.

There's the $50 version that is just an inflator, but I don't have experience with that.

The only issue I've really run into w/ this one: On my 17 & 18" rims, if you are just inflating ~5 psi a tire, easy peezy. If you are trying to inflate 4 tires about ~15-20 psi each, it will take some time since there is a built-in safety shut-off that will keep you from operating it for a while after a certain temperature has been reached. When using it this much, the hose going to the tire also gets pretty hot. This goes w/ a lot of the cordless units (and probably corded as well), though.

This has only been an issue for me a couple times since I usually air up the tires well in advance.

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Marshall Grice » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:43 pm

KJ Christopher wrote:
Bobby Beyer wrote:Being relatively small tank does it cycle often?
You may be able to see it in action at the next event. I'm a little behind on putting my car back together.
I think you need to stop taking it apart before you can claim you're behind on putting it back together. :P

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Bobby Beyer » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:36 pm

So one of my coworkers brought to my attention you can use CO2 to fill tires and he made a co2 system with a 10lb tank and he gets a season of off road use of it. Filling the tank costs a few dollars and the initial price is less than a $100 plus it'll run pneumatic tools for awhile. What would be the downside to using dry CO2 for filling tires?
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by John Stimson » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:14 am

I have a Coleman "Heavy Duty" tire inflator that unfortunately was discontinued years ago. I used one for a couple years before it took a walk at an American Autocross Series event, and I was lucky to find two more right after they were discontinued. The only major failure has been due to slamming the cord in the car door.

I can't give a specific model recommendation, but I can give general advice.

Look for an inflator that goes to 100psi or less. Avoid pumps that advertise 300psi like the plague. There is a trade-off between maximum pressure and air flow rate. If it's 300psi, someone made a decision that it was more important to impress the rubes with a big number on the front of the box, than to sell a pump that could inflate tires in a reasonable amount of time.

"Heavy duty" or for truck tires are good phrases to look for.


As for using carbon dioxide...The CO2 will weigh 57% more than nitrogen, and it will heat up and cool down more slowly than nitrogen due to the extra mass, but since the mass of air in your tire is so tiny, the difference in mass and in heat capacity won't have any noticeable effect.

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Marshall Grice » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:53 am

Bobby Beyer wrote:So one of my coworkers brought to my attention you can use CO2 to fill tires and he made a co2 system with a 10lb tank and he gets a season of off road use of it. Filling the tank costs a few dollars and the initial price is less than a $100 plus it'll run pneumatic tools for awhile. What would be the downside to using dry CO2 for filling tires?
the down side is that co2 is stored in liquid form in the tank so when you inflate your tires with it it is VERY cold which once it warms up will give you a much higher pressure than you set initially.

you can get tanks of compressed nitrogen also for very cheap and they don't have the temperature variation problem but also don't store as much gas for a given bottle size. why not just use bicycle pump? cheap and doesn't run out of batteries.

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Bobby Beyer » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:19 pm

I'm currently using a bicycle pump, but with my ability to overheat tires I tend to have 5+ psi to fill at the start of each event. Using Pete's math that could be up to 200 pumps to get all the tires in the correct range( (4-5*10)4=160-200 not 500 my bad), generally it only requires 30-70 pumps but after pumping that much air I'm pretty drained, and being drained and rushed getting ready at the same time isn't a good combination...at least its not for me.

The only downside I saw with nitrogen is that it has a much lower energy density compared to CO2 as you mentioned so the maintenance costs would be higher. I wouldn't normally consider using CO2 but my company has an account with airgas so I can get welding gas on the cheap. Realistically I'm stuck between using a portable compressor or an airtank. My main issue with the portable compressor is the high attrition rate of the cheaper units, otherwise it would be my likely choice. The airtank route gives me an excuse to buy an air compressor for my house, but as I am already the @sshole car guy, that may not be the wisest decision.

The Viair pumps look decent but I'm still not quite sold on them since it seems most of them have a duty cycle in the 33% range which seems like I would overheat it if I had lots of air to pump on all 4.
Last edited by Bobby Beyer on Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Pete Loney » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:27 pm

Bobby Beyer wrote:I'm currently using a bicycle pump, but with my ability to overheat tires I tend to have 5+ psi to fill at the start of each event. Using Pete's math that could be up to 500 pumps to get all the tires in the correct range, generally it only requires 100-200 pumps but after pumping that much air I'm pretty drained, and being drained and rushed getting ready at the same time isn't a good combination...at least its not for me.

The only downside I saw with nitrogen is that it has a much lower energy density compared to CO2 as you mentioned so the maintenance costs would be higher. I wouldn't normally consider using CO2 but my company has an account with airgas so I can get welding gas on the cheap. Realistically I'm stuck between using a portable compressor or an airtank. My main issue with the portable compressor is the high attrition rate of the cheaper units, otherwise it would be my likely choice. The airtank route gives me an excuse to buy an air compressor for my house, but as I am already the @sshole car guy, that may not be the wisest decision.

The Viair pumps look decent but I'm still not quite sold on them since it seems most of them have a duty cycle in the 33% range which seems like I would overheat it if I had lots of air to pump on all 4.
Your overheat statement is confusing. I will narrate what I go through of which is painless and easy.

I normally run 28 PSI in all tires for race conditions.
I normally run about that on the street too.
The week before the race I will overfill them to about 30 PSI cold.
If I foreget to air them up, I bring the bicycle pump.
I show up, get ready, go to grid, and them air them down to about 27.5 PSI before my first run.
I do my run. Pressure rises.
Recheck them, Blead them to 27.5 again.
Do my run. Pressure rises again.
From that point forward I blead them back to 28 PSI for all subsequent runs.

After the event, my cold pressure will be about 25 PSI.
At home, I then air them up back to 28 or so.

The only real need for a bunch of air at once is at home after the event from the way I work it.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Bobby Beyer » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:37 pm

I should correct my math, I didn't get much sleep last night... (10*4)4=160 not 500 although it sure feels like 500 sometimes.

Filling up before the events wasn't such an issue before I got separate street and race tires so now its become a bit more of a hassle. It wouldn't save me much time or effort in the long run simply because I have to load and unload the tires a few extra times just to fill them up.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Ed Holley » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:53 pm

Bobby Beyer wrote:I should correct my math, I didn't get much sleep last night... (10*4)4=160 not 500 although it sure feels like 500 sometimes.

Filling up before the events wasn't such an issue before I got separate street and race tires so now its become a bit more of a hassle. It wouldn't save me much time or effort in the long run simply because I have to load and unload the tires a few extra times just to fill them up.
I use one of these from Harbor Freight ($24.95) inflated to 125psi. I arrive at the track with over-inflated tires based on a general sense by now of about where I want the range to be. AND I use a small compressor similar to the Viair IF needed. The combination has never let me down.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Max Hayter » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:57 pm

I don't buy Pete's logic since it doesn't work for practices when tires cool at lunch.

Those pumps Steve linked to don't overheat. Loads of people use them with no problem and it's your easiest solution.

I have that, but I don't use it as I'm too lazy to unwrap the cord, hence I use a thingy like QV linked, which is also handy if you need to jump your car!

At home, I have the compressor.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Pete Loney » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:01 pm

Max Hayter wrote:I don't buy Pete's logic since it doesn't work for practices when tires cool at lunch.

Those pumps Steve linked to don't overheat. Loads of people use them with no problem and it's your easiest solution.

I have that, but I don't use it as I'm too lazy to unwrap the cord, hence I use a thingy like QV linked, which is also handy if you need to jump your car!

At home, I have the compressor.
Forgot to mention that was a race day narration.
For practice days, I have the bike pump still.
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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Marshall Grice » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:33 pm

Bobby Beyer wrote: The only downside I saw with nitrogen is that it has a much lower energy density compared to CO2 as you mentioned so the maintenance costs would be higher. I wouldn't normally consider using CO2 but my company has an account with airgas so I can get welding gas on the cheap. Realistically I'm stuck between using a portable compressor or an airtank. My main issue with the portable compressor is the high attrition rate of the cheaper units, otherwise it would be my likely choice. The airtank route gives me an excuse to buy an air compressor for my house, but as I am already the @sshole car guy, that may not be the wisest decision.
if you use the co2 tank to fill one of the regular metal air tanks and let it sit there long enough to warm back up to ambient temp you can use the co2 just fine. it just takes a little extra planning to not screw it up.

obviously one of those little compressors would work fine too.

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Re: 12v tire inflator

Post by Steve Ekstrand » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:31 pm

I've had great luck with Viair over the years. The off roader guys use them.
This is the baby unit, but you have small tires.

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