Are you looking for the best tire inflator and gauge combo?
You're in the right place!
In this PopularMechanic.com guide, you will learn the following:
- What is a tire inflator?
- How does a tire inflator work?
- What are the best tire inflators with gauges
Our Top Pick
Our Top Pick
EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
||View on Amazon|
Tcisa Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge
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Best High End
Best High End
Astro Pneumatic Tool 3018 3.5″ Digital Tire Inflator with Hose
||View on Amazon|
JACO FlowPro Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge – 100 PSI
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Rhino USA Digital Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge
||View on Amazon|
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
Our overall pick for the best tire inflator with gauge is the EPAuto Portable Digital Tire Inflator.
The EPAuto Portable Digital Tire Inflator uses multiple power sources so it is the perfect companion in the shop or on the road.
The unit's portability, backlit LCD, and auto shut off feature are just a few of the things that makes the EPAuto Digital Tire Inflator an overall superb buy.
If you are looking for the best tire inflator with gauge combo, you likely fall into one of the two following categories.
Either you are very forward-thinking, and are attempting to be prepared when the inevitable takes place, or you have recently found yourself without the proper means to air up your tire in a pinch.
If you fall into the former category, kudos to you for being a step ahead. If part of the latter, you are likely in the majority, and far from alone in the reason for your search.
We have all been there. You head to your vehicle, in a hurry to get on your way. Then your plans screech to a sudden halt as you notice the flat tire that awaits you.
If you are lucky, you find a marginally functional air chuck to at least put a little air in your tire
The drive that follows is filled with thoughts of whether or not you put enough air in the tire, or what if you added too much air. Wouldn’t life just be a lot simpler if you had a quality tire inflator/gauge combo at your disposal?
While finding such an inflator can be quite easy on today’s market, sorting out which among the heap is the best overall product to purchase, is not nearly as straightforward.
Fortunately, we have put together the following guide to help you make the most of your tire inflator purchase, and to ensure that you never again go without.
Below is a quick list of all our top products. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose the best tire inflator with gauge.
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What Is A Tire Inflator
A tire inflator is a device with the sole purpose of airing your tire up to its specified PSI rating.
Quality tire inflators come with an attached gauge that provides its user with an exact measurement of the amount of air that is currently in a given tire
This comes as a handy addition to any tire inflator, as a tire must be inflated to the correct pressure for optimum performance. Every vehicle on the road today has a designated air pressure specification that should always be followed.
This pressure can be found on a sticker that is located inside the door jamb of the driver's front door on any given vehicle. Many car tires are rated for a value of 32-35 PSI, while the majority of passenger truck tires are rated at 35-45 PSI.
Larger utility trucks and vans often feature LT rated tires, which typically call for a much higher operating air pressure. The bulk of these tires are rated at 60-80 PSI. For more information on tire pressure, check out this link.
Outside of the technical specification sticker that can be found in the door jamb of any of today’s vehicles, the bulk of vehicles built in the last 15 years feature TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) technology.
This advanced system quickly and accurately relates the tire pressure of each wheel end location to a vehicle’s operator.
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Every American vehicle built after September 1, 2007, must be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system.
This mandate came as a direct response to the numerous SUV rollover accidents that occurred in the 1990s.
Many of these accidents were attributed to heat build-up and tread separation that resulted from underinflated tires.
A Tire Pressure Monitoring System consists of several components that all play a role in the system's operation.
Each wheel features an individual pressure sensor that records and transmits each tire’s inflation status. This reading is recorded in PSI (pounds per square inch) and is related to a control module, which computes the difference between each tire’s inflation
If more than a 25 percent difference in air pressure between any two tires is noted, a light on the vehicle's dash is illuminated.
Additionally, many newer vehicles that feature tire pressure display options within their digital display. These displays allow an individual to assess their car’s tire pressures at any given point during their trip.
The far-reaching usage of TPMS systems in the last two decades has promoted driver awareness and stressed the value of properly inflated tires.
The use of this technology has undoubtedly prevented numerous wrecks and increased the service life of tires in general. To read more on Tire Pressure monitoring systems, check out this article.
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Preventing Excessive Tire Wear
Another distinct advantage of the use of a tire inflator/gauge combo is that designated tire pressures can be easily achieved, promoting longer tire life in the process.
Many vehicle owners are not aware that an improperly inflated tire is more than just an inconvenience, but rather a death sentence for a tire’s longevity as well.
Under-inflated tires typically display a specific uneven wear pattern all their own.
If a tire is run more than a few pounds under its specified rating for a prolonged period, both outer edges of the tread pattern will usually show accelerated wear.
This is because an underinflated tire “squats” when traveling down the road.
But, did you know that an over-inflated tire will also wear unevenly?
Though it may be hard to believe, it can, and does, happen every day. As an overinflated tire runs down the road, it rides primarily on the raised center section of the tread.
This accelerates the wear within this area and leads to an accelerated need for tire replacement.
This article explains more about safety and tire wear.
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How Does A Tire Inflator Work?
A tire inflator is basically a valve that opens and closes to allow the circulation of pressurized air when a trigger is pulled.
An inflator is attached to an air hose that is run to an air source, most typically a compressor. The air that is supplied through the hose travels all the way to the inflator itself, where a valve within is closed when in a neutral position.
This valve is controlled by a trigger that is found on the body of the inflator. When the inflator’s trigger is pulled, air is allowed to pass through the inflator, and out of a built-in hose assembly that features an air chuck.
This air chuck is placed onto a tire's valve stem, where it engages a push style valve that allows the flow of air to enter the tire.
A built-in gauge featured on many inflators will relay the resulting air pressure every time that inflation is paused.
This assists you in keeping your tire’s air pressure in the sweet spot, avoiding both over and underinflation.
When you have reached the desired pressure, simply release the inflator’s trigger, remove the air chuck from the tire’s valve stem, and replace your valve stem cap. At this point, you can store away your gauge, and continue in your travels.
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Different Types of Tire Inflators With Gauge
Tire inflators come in several varieties, all of which offer their own specific uses.
Of these various types of inflators, the most sizable differences stem from the style of gauge that is used and the source from which they draw their air supply.
The gauges used by tire inflators come in three main styles, digital, analog, and plunger style. While all of these gauge styles work well when determining tire inflation, each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Digital pressure gauges display air pressures in much the same way as a digital alarm clock. These numbers are displayed across a screen for ease of readability, and many such displays come with a backlight for night time use.
One downside of a digital style gauge is its dependence on batteries for operation. If an inflator is used regularly, and batteries are changed out from time to time, this is not likely to become a hindrance.
However, if great lengths of time fall between uses it is not common to pick up your inflator, only to find out that its batteries have died while in storage.
Analog style tire inflator gauges have been found on tire gauges for many years, and remain quite popular today.
These gauges use a dial style indicator much like a standard clock. The hand of this gauge sweeps to the exact air pressure that is found within the tire being inflated.
One advantage of an analog gauge is that no batteries are required for usage. Simply pick up your gauge and put it to work, at any time.
This often saves frustration and eliminates excess expenditure on batteries throughout the inflator's lifetime.
On the opposite side of the fence, analog style gauges typically do not feature a backlight, which can make nighttime use difficult.
Additionally, analog gauges have a reputation of not being as accurate as digital gauges.
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A plunger style gauge is the most simple of all varieties. These gauges feature a “plunger” that overcomes spring tension when pressure is applied, allowing it to stick outward, showing a pressure reading.
The distance at which the plunger protrudes is controlled by a calibrated spring that correlates with various tire pressures. The plunger itself features a series of marks that notate given pressures.
Much like analog style gauges, plunger varieties don't require batteries for operation. This can come as an advantage, especially when you do not wish to keep up with extra batteries.
However, plunger style gauges do not feature any form of lighting for night time use. Also, these gauges can lose their calibration at times, providing unreliable measurements.
Tire inflators can receive their air supply either from a supply hose that is routed from a compressor, or its own built-in, portable compressor unit.
These two methods of obtaining supply air matter little to an inflator’s ability to air up a tire.
However, simplicity can often be dictated by which of these styles is chosen
External Air Supply
The bulk of tire inflators on the market pull their air from a separate supply source.
This is most often an air hose that is routed from a compressor. The supply line is simply hooked to the inflator via a fitting, and you are ready to go.
One major disadvantage of this style inflator is that without a separate compressor, it is of no use. An adequate air supply must be maintained at all times to achieve the desired results.
However, when a reliable external air supply is utilized, all four tires can quickly be inflated, in a trouble-free manner. This makes it a breeze to handle the task at hand and gets you back on the road in short order.
Integrated Air Supply
Some of the newer tire inflators on today’s market come with a built-in compressor. This compressor supplies air for use and eliminates the need for an external compressor or supply hose.
This comes as a substantial advantage, as these units can be used virtually anywhere, in a pinch.
If you leave a store only to find that your tire is nearly flat, simply pull your tire inflator out of your trunk and take care of business.
These units are also typically compact enough to be easily portable.
One downside of these units is that the compressors that they feature are generally small in capacity.
This means that you might find it necessary to stop in the middle of airing up your tire to allow the compressor to cycle, and build back to capacity.
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What To Look For In The Best Tire Inflator?
When looking to purchase a quality tire inflator, there are several factors that one should consider. These factors will determine the overall value that a specific product offers, in its ability to cater to your personal needs.
Intended Uses Vs. Practical Use
Before deciding whether or not a particular inflator suits your needs, you must evaluate how you intend to use such a product.
As mentioned above, tire inflators come in stand-alone packages or units that require an external air supply.
If you intend for your inflator to be used primarily in a shop type setting, where a compressor and air hoses are already present, then a standard inflator is probably your most economical choice.
However, if you do not already own an air compressor, or wish to be able to air tires up while on the road, a stand-alone package with a built-in compressor is ideal.
If you intend to use your tire inflator with any level of frequency, it is very important to gauge the construction of any inflator which you are considering.
No one wants to purchase an inflator, only to find it leaking air after its third use.
The two most important components to study when purchasing a tire inflator are the unit gauge and chuck.
A lack of craftsmanship in either of these two areas is typically a dead giveaway of poor construction.
Check to ensure that the gauge’s housing is tight, without any loose or rattling parts.
Additionally, check an air chuck’s tip for proper fitment of the valve contained within. If this valve is loose or severely offset, you are best advised to steer clear.
Another vital consideration when purchasing a tire inflator is the accuracy of its gauge.
A gauge does little good if it does not provide an accurate reading. This makes it essential to determine whether or not a gauge features a high level of accuracy.
Many gauges feature a plus +/- accuracy rating. It can be quite helpful to locate these specifications for any gauges which you are currently considering.
With these figures in hand, a comparison can be made from one unit to the next.
Presence of Gauge Lighting
It can be utterly frustrating when trying to air up a tire without being able to observe the inflator gauge’s readout.
However, if your gauge does not feature any lighting, and you are forced to air up a tire in a dark setting, this is all too often reality.
The need for gauge lighting generally comes down to the setting in which you will primarily be using your inflator.
If the majority of the inflator’s use will take place in a well-lit shop, this might not be as vital of a concern.
However, if there is any potential of being forced to air a tire up in unlit conditions, gauge lighting is a must.
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Rate Of Inflation
No one wants to spend the better part of 30 minutes airing up a tire.
Therefore, it is also worth considering the rate of inflation for any particular inflator which is being considered. This generally comes into play more when talking about stand-alone, compressor equipped units than standard inflators.
Some manufacturers specify ratings regarding the speed at which their inflator is capable of airing up a tire.
In other cases, it can be helpful to read several reviews on Amazon relating to the topic.
This can provide you with real-world feedback that will likely hold true for your experience with the product as well.
Another consideration that is specific to stand-alone inflators is their range of portability.
The whole point of a stand-alone unit is to be able to inflate a tire wherever, and whenever, the need arises.
If your inflator is not of a compact design to allow transport from Point A to Point B with relative ease, you have gained little from its purchase.
This is where carefully studying unit dimensions comes into play.
Most manufacturers readily advertise both the weight and exact measurements of their inflators.
This makes it extremely easy to compare these figures from one unit to the next, to determine which inflator best suits your personal needs.
Best Tire Inflator With Gauge (2020 Review)
If you are seeking an inflator that will keep your tires aired up, no matter the location, then the EPAuto Portable Inflator is for you.
This portable tire inflator features an integrated ac/dc powered compressor that quickly and effortlessly provides all the air that is needed for operation.
Using the EPAuto Portable Inflator is absolutely effortless.
Simply plug its power cord to an outlet, set your desired pressure, engage the chuck, and the unit does the rest.
An auto shut-off function automatically disengages airflow with the maximum pressure specification has been met.
Built in overheating protection prevents accidental inflator damage.
Using this portable air inflator in a dimly lit area is also a trouble-free proposition. The inflators gauge uses an LCD backlight function to promote readout visibility.
An additional built-in flashlight also aids in warding off darkness.
he Tcisa Tire Inflator is a ready to use, shop-grade unit that showcases keen attention to detail.
This inflator features a +/- 1% calibration setting.
This can be quite valuable in the day of ultra-picky TPMS systems, where a slight tire-to-tire variance in air pressure can cause your dash light to shine.
This unit also utilizes an easy to read LCD display that features backlighting for simple day or nighttime use.
Multi-function settings allow readouts to be displayed in PSI, BAR, Kpa. and Kgf/cm².
One of the most unique functions of the Tcisa inflator is its ability to reach even the hardest to locate valve stems.
This is made possible through the use of the unit’s included 90-degree valve extender. No more spending lengthy periods of time reaching troublesome valve stems. Simply connect, inflate, and go.
The Astro Pneumatic Digital Tire Inflator is an advance, yet simple to use inflator that will make quick work out of inflating your tires to their designated ratings.
The unit's digital display is easy to read, featuring a large backlit face, that is capable of presenting PSI, BAR, and KG readings.
Durability is also a strong suit of the Astro Pneumatic Digital Inflator.
This commercial-grade unit features a 21” stainless-steel hose that resists chafing and collapse. Additionally, a rubber-coated shell makes this inflator inherently shock resistant.
Overfilling your tire is also of no issue with this inflator. A dual-stage trigger allows for both inflation and deflation.
If you get a little overzealous when airing up a tire, simply pull the unit’s trigger to the first position, and excess air pressure will be purged.
Any consumer that is looking for functionality without excess all of the excess bells and whistles will likely find favor in the JACO FlowPro Tire Inflator.
This inflator features an analog gauge with robust, easy to read pressure designations, and all accessories that you need to get started.
This inflator is also the epitome of durability.
The unit features a solid steel housing and a rugged 21” hose that will keep you on the move, even in the least hospitable of conditions.
JACO also backs up their claims of reliability with a 100% unconditional, lifetime guarantee.
Many consumers will love this inflator’s Lightning Chuck.
Simply push the chuck onto your tire’s valve stem, fasten its clip, and get down to business.
No more leaking air to contend with, only results.
Rhino is a small, privately owned shop tool company that has recently been making a big name for itself in the industry.
The reason? Their complete dedication to customer satisfaction.
Their products are built to last, and no corners are ever cut in production.
Rhino’s Digital Tire Inflator is no exception to this principle, as its solid construction is capable of handling most anything that consumers can throw at it.
A solid-brass, 360-degree swivel and stainless-steel braided hose ensure that leakage will never be an issue.
As mentioned above, Rhino strives for complete customer satisfaction. This is why Rhino offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee with every one of its inflators.
This not only covers defects but just general satisfaction as well. This allows consumers to purchase with confidence, as the Rhino Digital Tire Inflator is truly a risk-free proposition.
My top pick for the best tire inflator with gauge is the EPAuto Portable Digital Tire Inflator.
This inflator is the perfect companion for use both in the garage or on the road, ensuring that you are never again left without a suitable source of air.
The EPAuto Portable Digital Tire Inflator features an integrated air compressor that is powered from any wall outlet.
Have you discovered a flat far from the nearest outlet? No problem.
This compressor features an auxiliary port adapter attached to its power cable that lets your vehicle’s 12 volt power port be the inflator’s power source.
Additional features such as an easy to read, LCD display, backlighting on all readouts, and a built-in flashlight at the forward end of the unit, make this inflator a wise investment for any vehicle owner.
If I were to be forced to rely upon a single tire inflator for all of my tire care needs, it would most certainly be the EPAuto Portable Digital Tire Inflator.
Plus, it's an excellent value for the money! Check the low price now on Amazon.