How to use a portable tire inflator

A portable tire inflator or air compressor is a must have item for car people. Yes we did not need it before because the concept did not really exist, just like how we did not need a battery pack before it became a thing. In this article we demonstrate how to use a portable air compressor if you happen to have one of these things and not sure how to fill your tires with it.

Why is a portable tire inflator needed

Part of owning a car is dealing with a flat tire. A flat tire could mean two things; either it magically deflated or there is a puncture somewhere. You cannot drive your car with a flat tire to the nearest gas station otherwise you will cut up your tire and bend your rim. So you pop open the trunk and take out the spare wheel. When was the last time you used that spare wheel? If long enough ago, chances are its going to be flat as well. This is exactly what happened to me. See in the video below how a flat tire was replaced with a flat spare tire.

If only you had a tire inflator or air compressor, you could inflate your wheel and get yourself to the nearest gas station without causing any further damage to your life. Speaking of gas, does shifting your gear to neutral save gas at red lights?

A portable air compressor does not always have to be car specific. It can also be used for balloons, footballs, basketballs, not squash balls, swimming pools, beach balls, and any other inflatable stuff that consume lung power.

Where to buy a tire inflator or air compressor

Search online for Jump starter kits or car emergency kits. These are complete sets that come with basic tools to get your car up and running again without reliance on anyone else. These kits are cool because for a reasonable price you get jumper cables, the compressor, some phone charging cables, and a heavy duty battery pack to power these items. Learn how to use the power bank and booster cables to jump start your car.

The Air Compressor

The tire inflator itself is a small boxed shaped device with a pressure gauge at the front and an air tube and power plug wire at the back. The pressure gauge reads bars and psi.

Air Compressor gauge

Using the Air Compressor

To work the portable tire inflator, connect the compressor to the battery pack. The battery pack has a slot labelled “Engine Start” from where the highest voltage output can be obtained. The plug of the air compressor can only fit into this slot. This also means the inflator cannot be used with a different power source.

Next, screw the air tube nozzle onto car the tire air inlet thingy.

Once plugged in, turn on the battery pack. A bright blue light with all 3 bars illuminated indicates that the battery is fully charged.

After turning on the battery pack, turn on the compressor using the switch at its front. It will start making a loud rattling noise. This is normal. If you haven’t screwed the air nozzle thingy onto the tire inlet thingy, you will feel a gust of air coming out the tube.

Let the inflator do its thing and inflate your tire. Once you have achieved enough tire pressure, turn off the compressor, unscrew the tube, put the cap back on the tire inlet thingy, and turn off the battery pack. Pack everything up and put your battery pack on charge for the next emergency.

Other Advice

Remember that this is not an industrial air compressor that you find at a gas station or a tire shop. It will take some time to inflate your tire to the desired pressure level. Therefore, be patient with it. After all, its an emergency device, so don’t complain.

Keep monitoring the pressure gauge on the front of the compressor. Its unlikely that you will be able to achieve a tire pressure of more than 30 psi as recommended by the car door sticker. The real purpose is to get enough air to make it to the next gas station without damaging your tire and rim.

The air compressor is a small electrical/mechanical device and will get hot with continued usage. If you feel like its getting warm, give it a break and let it cool down so it doesn’t burn out.

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