What to Look for in a Car Air Compressor

Picking out the best air compressor for your car can be a challenge if you don’t know what features to consider. In this aspect, knowledge of the basics is a must to make sure you’re not buying an air compressor that’s made for other purposes.

To make the process easier, we’ve made a list of everything you need to know when looking for a car air compressor.


Mobility is one of the main factors to consider when choosing the right air compressor. It should be easy to move around the car so that it reaches all tires without requiring much effort from you.

Since air compressors come in different sizes and have different uses, you should also factor in storage. If you’re going to put the air compressor in the car, make sure it will fit in the trunk without taking up too much space. Of course, you would need extra room in there for groceries and other things.

Air Compressor Strength

PSI or pounds per square inch is the unit that manufacturers use to describe the power of the motor. You’ll usually find in the label how much PSI the tire pump can reach. Higher numbers mean a more powerful compressor.

To handle high pressures, portable air compressors should reach more than 100 PSI. When looking at the PSI, also consider the size of the motor because high PSI ratings also mean the air compressor will heat up faster during operation. 

Overload protection measures should also be in place, especially since dealing with high pressures can quickly heat up the unit. 

Inflation Time

How long does it take for the air compressor to fully inflate different tire sizes? Taking this into consideration will give you an insight on the amount of time you need to wait to fill up a tire. Not all of us are willing to wait too much especially if we’re always pressed for time.

If you pick an inflator with a faster inflation time, you can be back on the road quickly. This could potentially be a life-saver if you’re caught in bad weather or in a bad neighborhood.

Duty Cycle

This refers to the percentage of time that the air compressor can run before it would need to be cooled down. Longer duty cycles mean it will also take longer for you to use the inflator again. 

Reading this is pretty easy. For instance, if the run time is at 3 minutes and the duty cycle is 30%, that means the compressor would need to rest for 7 minutes after running for 3 minutes. 


Indeed, an air compressor is a helpful piece of equipment for your car. Although it can be overwhelming to understand all the technicalities when picking out an air compressor, the task can be easy once you know what to look for.  Keeping in mind the factors mentioned above, you’ll be able to find the air compressor that fits your needs.

Author: Brandon Park