Consumer Reports lists new flat tire inflaters for car owners
Timothy Boyer's picture

A Top Rated and Bargain Brand Cordless Portable Tire Pump Choice for Your Car

Here’s the latest on both a top rated high-end and a bargain brand cordless tire pump review that alerts consumers to the fact that they no longer are limited to yesteryear’s anemic handheld tire inflators. As an added plus, included are two videos demonstrating these Consumer Reports recommended models in action.
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Low Tire Pressure Fix

The need to inflate your tires never comes at a good time. Either a near-by gas station does not possess a working tire compressor and hose; or, there is one, but you risk getting yourself dirty while on the way to an event. And then, to make matters worse, there is the bacteria and virus risk of a shared public handle to grasp.

This is a real problem. Continuing to drive on an underinflated tire at the very least affects your gas mileage, but more importantly could damage your tires, damage your rims, cause an accident, or all three in one disastrous road mishap.

A previous solution to this problem was to carry a small portable handheld tire inflator that plugged into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter or other 12-volt socket and nurse just enough air into your tire until you could make it home to your own garage air compressor. For flat tires due to a puncture, more portable solutions come in a can, but with its own set of problems.

While a much cleaner alternative to using a public gas station pump, these handhelds were difficult to use, took waaaaaay too long to partially inflate a tire, and often became dangerously hot and were at risk of burning up.

Fortunately, cordless portable tire pumps that do a much better job and can easily be carried in your car have evolved according to a recent Consumer Reports analysis and review of what is out there and the value they provide to car owners.

That said, here is a review of both CR’s top rated recommended cordless portable tire pump and one highly recommended bargain brand that they determined were good choices for car owners who maintain their cars and actively stay safe while on the road.

THE CR REVIEW

The Brands---According to the CR review, analysts spent considerable energy looking over battery-powered compressors from Bauer, Craftsman, DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee to see how they compared toward inflating a test tire and what features some makes offered over others for the consumer.

The Tests---The test tire was a typical midsized car tire requiring 35 psi for proper inflation. Tests were performed using both a completely flat tire, and one that required only a 5 psi topping off to bring the tire to its recommended pressure.

The Features---Features that the analysts looked for included:

• Speed of inflation
• Ease of use
• Charged battery and 12-volt car port operation
• Ability to inflate sports balls, bicycle tires and air mattresses
• Easy to read digital display
• Auto shutoff to prevent over-inflation
• Multi-use battery common to power tools owner may have in their garage

TWO STANDOUTS

While all brands of the tire inflators were found to perform well in the flat tire/topping-off tire tests by demonstrating a marked improvement over early-generation handheld automotive air pumps, two stood out with one for its overall performance plus features and another for the remarkably lower cost of a budget brand that offered similar features and performance.

And the recommended pumps are:

Top Choice---The DeWalt 20V Max Inflator

Highs
• 12-volt car-plug capable
• Auto set feature with accurate gauge
• Quiet
• High-volume hose for air mattress air filling

Lows
• Price
• Battery and charger sold separately

Price paid: $100 for the inflator, $120 for the battery and charger
Where available: Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's

The DeWalt 20V Max Inflator’s simple control operation design for ease of use makes this a top-rated feature-filled choice that was among the quickest models tested for tire inflating. It can be powered from a 12-volt power point in the car or plugged in with a rechargeable DeWalt battery. Money can be saved with this unit if you already own a DeWalt power tool with a compatible 20-volt multi-use rechargeable battery and charger.

Here’s a YouTube video review of the DeWalt in action:

DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Tire Inflator Review

Budget Choice---The Bauer 20V Cordless Inflator/Deflator

Highs
• 12-volt car plug
• Auto set feature
• Cheapest if you don’t need cordless ability

Lows
• Clumsy hose storage
• Louder than most others
• Battery and charger sold separately

Price paid: $50 for the inflator, $25 for the battery, $23 for the charger
Where available: Harbor Freight Tools

Although it took slightly longer-than-average to fill a completely flat tire in comparison to other brands tested, the Bauer inflator wins as a bargain brand filled with features that include a high-volume hose and a 12-volt car plug.

Here’s a YouTube video review of the Bauer in action:

Harbor Freight Bauer 20v air inflator review

And Finally…

For more about car maintenance, repair and care be sure to check out these useful articles that discuss choosing tires for your car, changing oil and filter demos and warnings, and how to avoid scams by service centers.

COMING UP NEXT: Understanding why your brake warning light is on and how to fix it.

Timothy Boyer is Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily Tesla and electric vehicle news.

Photo by Sebastian Huxley on Unsplash


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