Consumer Automotive Research Logo
This website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. We are reader-supported. If you buy something through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. This doesn't affect which products are included in our content. It helps us pay to keep this site free to use while providing you with expertly-researched unbiased recommendations.
The Best

Tire Pump

FORTEM Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor, Bike Tire Pump, 12V Electric Air Pump for Car Tires...
  • Portable and Compact - Take your Fortem air compressor for car with you and be ready for...
  • Multi-purpose - Perfect for car, truck, suv, motorcycle tires. Includes three nozzle...
  • Built-In Safety Features- Super bright automatic LED flashlight makes our car air pump...
  • Easy To Use – Start car ignition, connect car plug to the DC-12-volt power outlet, set...
  • One Year Warranty - Made from extremely durable, lightweight plastic. Enjoy daily drives,...

Buyer's Guide: Tire Pump

Tire Pump - What You Must Know Before Buying

A tire pump is one of the most important tools in your car or truck. An air compressor is a device used in order to pump air into your tires. Examples include a tire pump, compressors which are utilized in order to aerate a pond or an aquarium through an air tube; a small gas compressor utilized to power an air tool, compressed air horn or pneumatic hose; or a water pump. A water pump can be either an electric motor or an internal-combustion engine (IC) pump. These pumps are very important to your automobile's or other vehicle's maintenance and fuel efficiency.

It is very important that you properly maintain your tires and that you recharge the air pump so that it performs at its best. One of the most important components of an air compressor is the air flow meter. This device will display the pressure of the air inside the air tank. When the needle moves up and down, this means that the tire's air pressure has increased. If the needle moves to the right, the air pressure has decreased and vice versa.

The other important tool that you need to keep handy is your digital LCD display. This device lets you know which tire pump is currently in use. It also displays how much fuel is still in the tank. In some models, a gauge panel is located above the electric air pump and displays the tire load, the temperature and the pressure of the fuel.

There are two different styles of air pumps for tires. The first style is usually classified as an inflation type. These pumps inflate tires by pumping air directly into the tire. The air is forced through a tube that is attached to the inner surface of the tire. Because of this method, inflated tires typically have a shorter lifespan.

The second style is referred to as maximum pressure air pressure pumping. This type of pump provides the maximum pressure possible with the least amount of time and effort. This is ideal for recreational vehicle (RV) use because it can pump both tires with one installation.

The two types of air compressors are gas-powered and electric. Gas-powered compressors are more powerful than their electric counterparts. However, they require gasoline or oil to be used because of the electricity needed to operate them. The gasoline or oil required also makes them more expensive to operate.

The most common electrical air compressors are used for inboard applications. These devices are available in single and two-stage versions. The two-stage version is capable of running at greater pressures than the single-stage model. Both single and two-stage are typically found in bicycle pumps.

Compact and portable air compressors, like the compressor found in golf carts and reconditioned tire inflators, are often used instead of inboard compressors. They are especially appropriate for RVs, campers and short-term travel. Portable compressors are smaller and less powerful than other style pumps. However, compact pumps are much easier to transport than their larger counterparts, which allows many to be taken with individuals without significant difficulty. Some compact pumps are powered by electricity and have an automatic air release valve; others are air-powered and lack a release valve.

An air compressor is often attached directly to a bicycle's tire tube. A hand crank is used to activate the air compressor, and the compressed air is released from the air compressor into the tire. The pump has a single or two-stage compressor that delivers air in five minutes or less. This option allows riders to have their tires inflated quickly. One drawback to the portable inflator is that it may not be as powerful as the motorized versions.

Digital LCD Display: Some portable tire inflators are equipped with a digital LCD screen that displays the desired pressure of each tire. This information is helpful when riders need to precisely determine the correct amount of air pressure needed. The display is generally located on the dashboard or console.

Tire Inflators: There are also self-contained inflators available for sale. These are much like auto air pumps except that they contain a small battery. The pump attaches to the tire, releases air, and deflates the tire. Most self-contained inflators have digital displays that indicate the pressure level and speed of inflation. These types of pumps are more difficult to use than electric pumps and usually require the purchase of additional batteries.