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A Portable Auto Tire Inflator

Updated on June 9, 2012

Proper Tire Care

Tires are a critical part of our automobiles. Take away the tires and the car is immobilized.

Like other components that make up a car or truck, tires require regular maintenance in the form of maintaining proper air pressure inside each tire.

Over inflating or under inflating can result in the tires can lead to a number of problems among them the tires wearing out faster, less efficient gas mileage, risking having the tire blowout while driving, etc.

Tires Tend to Get Soft Periodically

Auto tire semi-deflated
Auto tire semi-deflated | Source

Air is All Around Us But a Machine is Needed to Put it Into a Car Tire

Owners manuals, tire dealers, safety experts and others all encourage drivers to pay attention to their tires and keep them properly inflated.

Checking the pressure is easy and can be done with a simple pencil shaped pressure gauge that can be purchased for as little as 99 cents at any auto parts store or the auto section of big box stores like Wal-Mart.

Inflating a tire is also relatively simple but this requires specialized equipment designed to force air into a tire under pressure.  Such machines need a power source as well.

Box containing portable Tire Inflator by Slime
Box containing portable Tire Inflator by Slime | Source
Back of box containing portable tire inflator
Back of box containing portable tire inflator | Source

Most Gas Stations No Longer Sell, Let Along Provide Free, Tire Inflation Service

When I was a child every gasoline service station had an air pump that anyone could drive in and use at no cost.  

However, rising costs and changes in the auto service industry caused most  gas stations to cease offering free air.  While a few places continued to provide air for free, others replaced the free air pumps with coin operated pumps that charged anywhere from twenty-five to seventy-five cents or more to use.  

My experience, at home and traveling, is that most stations no longer provide air pumps at all and, thanks to vandals, the pumps at the few stations that continue to offer this service, are frequently out of order.  This seems to be true for both free and coin-operated air compressors.

Inflating automobile tire using a small portable tire inflator using car cigarette lighter as power source
Inflating automobile tire using a small portable tire inflator using car cigarette lighter as power source | Source

Auto Stores Now Sell Inexpensive Compact Air Compressors

While free air pumps at gas stations have disappeared along with the full service gas stations that used to provide them, the market has now come out with alternatives.

A couple of years ago, frustrated with the difficulty of trying to find places with working pumps where I could get air for my tires, and with having to replace tires that were prematurely worn due to not being kept properly inflated, I checked out the auto section in a local Wal-Mart.

The store had about three shelves worth of inflators ranging in price, size and other features.

I found and purchased a Slime Tire Inflator that was small and compact, had a ten foot cord that plugged into the cigarette lighter of the car for power, claimed to be designed for auto, midsized pickups and SUVs and was priced around $12 - $14.

Power Cord Plugs into Car Cigarette Lighter

Tire Inflator plugs into car's cigarette lighter
Tire Inflator plugs into car's cigarette lighter | Source

My Experience With the Tire Inflator I Purchased Has Been Good

I have now had this little compressor for two years and have been very happy with it.

While it is somewhat slow, taking five minutes or so to increase the pressure in an under inflated tire, this is offset by the convenience of being able to both use it anywhere (so long as the car battery isn’t dead) while, at the same time compact enough to easily store it under the front seat of the car.

Other features include a built in pressure gauge to measure the tire pressure, a powerful light which could be handy if you car breaks down on a dark road and a compartment in the bottom where you can store the cord and pump hose of the unit.

For two years now I have found this to be a handy appliance for maintaining proper inflation levels in wife’s and my cars.

Front View of My Tire Inflator

Front view of the Slime Car Tire Inflator
Front view of the Slime Car Tire Inflator | Source

Close-up of Pressure Gauge

Tire pressure gauge on Tire Inflator
Tire pressure gauge on Tire Inflator | Source

Power Switches for Compressor and Light

Switches on Car Tire Inflator
Switches on Car Tire Inflator | Source

Light on Side of Unit

Light on portable Car Tire Inflator
Light on portable Car Tire Inflator | Source

10 Foot Power Cord and Air Hose Fold into Storage Unit in Bottom of Inflator

Air Hose and power cord on portable Auto Tire Inflator fold into compartment at bottom of unit.
Air Hose and power cord on portable Auto Tire Inflator fold into compartment at bottom of unit. | Source

Replace Cover on Bottom and Power Cord & Air Hose Safely Stored Away

Portable Auto tire inflator is compact.and easily stored.
Portable Auto tire inflator is compact.and easily stored. | Source


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    • amahubber profile image

      amahubber 6 years ago from Egypt

      It helps especially on highway. I should have one.

    • th1981 profile image

      th1981 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Good article. I have had one for years and I use it very often. If you are a weekend racer and you drive your car to the roadcourse like I do one of these things really help when you are changing tire pressure.

      I carry fix a flat also but I have never thought or read the warnings on the can about heat. An aerosol can blowing up in the trunk of one of my cars would be a very bad day.

      Take a look at my hub with some pretty unique roadside repairs

    • Gefforyt profile image

      Gefforyt 7 years ago

      I think every vehicle should have this as party of an emergency kit.

    • GiftedGrandma profile image

      GiftedGrandma 7 years ago from USA

      My husband has always used plugs using a car compressor for lighter will help.

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      GusTheRedneck - thanks for the comment. As I noted above, I stopped using the canned sealant because I was afraid the extreme summer temperatures in Arizona might cause them to explode in my car.

      Thanks for your advice on another possible hazard with those products.

      I will say that, years ago before I moved to Arizona, I used the canned products and they worked well the few times I used them on both my car and bike.

      Ironically, I think that the company that sells the inflator pump product that I now use and which I described in this Hub also manufactures the canned products as well.

      Thanks again.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 7 years ago from USA

      Chuck - My garageman once told me that those cans of tire sealant can be very dangerous because they can cause explosions and injure people who remove tires from the wheels to repair or replace them in the shop. This may be worth checking on.

      Gus :-O

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      Very handy tool, but I always leave mine in the garage not in my car, so when I need it....

    • N.E. Wright profile image

      N.E. Wright 7 years ago from Bronx, NY

      Very useful Hub. I do remember my parents always stopping to put air in the tires before we began our travels every weekend, and that was in the '70s.

      I really forgot about that until I read your Hub.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I had no idea these were available. Very happy to get this info. Great hub. Thanks

    • profile image

      peacefulparadox 7 years ago

      In my trunk, I have a "green slime" tire sealant. Just in case a nail goes into my tire when I'm out nowhere. Supposed to plug up holes. A pump wouldn't work completely if the air keeps leaking out of the tire.

      I never had to use it, so I don't know how well it works.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I am kind of embarrassed to learn if I over-inflate them they wear out faster. these are a very reasonable price too.


    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Thanks for all of your great comments. I am glad you enjoyed the Hub and found it useful.

      Paradise7 - I used to carry one of the fix-a-flat cans in my car but, after moving to Arizona I gave it up after reading the warning label about exposing the can to excessive heat. After sitting in the sun all day in 100+ degree weather it gets very hot inside my car and I was afraid of the can exploding - which is what the warning on the can said might happen.

      Thanks again.

    • bobmnu profile image

      bobmnu 7 years ago from Cumberland

      Good idea. As small business look for ways to save money service stations are cutting back on free things.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Good info, thank you!! I have one off those fix-a-flat aerosol cans in the trunk of my car, but the air compressor seems like a much better option and not that expensive at all.

    • hafeezrm profile image

      hafeezrm 7 years ago from Pakistan

      Very useful information. The product is not expensive but of immence use.

    • Butch45 profile image

      Butch45 7 years ago

      If you use this with the flat repair product called plugs you can fix your tires and you never have to worry about going to the tire shop. The plug kit and insert tool only cost a little and it can really help people on to road. It would sell with this product.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Very helpful. I wondered why I could no longer access tire inflation pumps at gas stations. I thought I was looking in the wrong places, lol. My dad taught me well. Inflated tires are vital for safety. Thanks for a great hub.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      This is a great tool because air at the gas station costs upwards of a dollar and the hose is dirty and you typically only get 3 minutes and the gauge is always suspect. You can use it in the garage instead of outdoors when it's 20 degrees and the wind is howling. Don't ask me how I know. ;)