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How To Find The Best 12v Air Compressor

Are you keen to get the most out of your car? Start by looking after your tires, so how can you ensure that they are up to the job no matter what the conditions? Keeping tyre pressures on the mark is no longer down to when you next fill up and hoping for the best mid tank. Improved 12v air compressor technology now means small, lightweight machines can be found for a very reasonable layout.

Combine one with the battery (yep – your car’s got one of those) and you can get compressed air on demand. The only issue is that there are a number of models that you can choose from and each comes with its own selection of pros and cons so here is some collected wisdom about the best 12v air compressors in the market place.​

What Should I Use My 12Volt Compressor For?

man using the best 12v air compressor

When it comes to cars, tires are quite the Thing. The Thing is, they will often deflate of their own accord albeit slowly and imperceptibly and sometimes you may even need to deflate them yourself.

Owning your own 12v air compressor is probably the best investment you can make in maintenance for your car. Keeping an eye on tyre pressure means tyres will last longer and you can improve

  • Safety
  • Vehicle Handling
  • Fuel consumption

If you are fan of the great outdoors there is also an extra benefit to owning a 12v compressor. When you switch to off-road in your SUV or 4x4, no matter how good the four wheel drive is, you still need maximum grip, especially on looser surfaces. The best solution is to deflate your tyres so that you get greater surface in contact with your tyre. No worries there, that’s pretty straight forward, just let the excess air out. However, when you return to the tarmac, you need to inflate your tyres to the correct on-road pressures. Cue the 12 volt compressor (well, cue the BEST 12v air compressors actually)

12 Volt Air Compressor Reviews

Now that you know what to look for in your 12 volt compressor, its time to choose the right one. You could spend hours upon hours choosing one with the hundreds of options available, or you could simply read our reviews of the top 5 12 volt air compressors below (as voted by customers)

The Top 5 Best 12v Air Compressors in 2017:

Kensun

D1002 AC Portable Air Compressor/Tire Inflator

Dimensions: 11.8 x 7 x 4.8 inches

Power: 40 PSI​

Weight:
4.7 pounds

1 Year Warranty

Viair

The Viair 45040 450C Air Compressor

Dimensions: 12.75 x 4 x 7 inches

Power: 150 PSI

Weight:
9.75 pounds

1 Year Warranty

Q Industries

MV50 Super-Flow 12-Volt Air Compressor

Dimensions: 11.5 x 8

​Power: 120 PSI

Weight:
1 pound

1 Year Warranty

ARB

(CKMP12) 12V Portable Air Compressor

Dimensions: 17.3 x 9.8 x 8.7

Power: 150 PSI

Weight:
16 pounds

2 Years Warranty

Master Flow

MF-1040 Cyclone High Volume Air Compressor

Dimensions:  8.6 x 9.1 x 7.6 inches

Power: 150 PSI

Weight:
1 pound

1 Year Warranty

1. The Kensun D1002 AC (Home 110V)/DC (12V Car) Portable Air Compressor/Tire Inflator

Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions: 11.8 x 7 x 4.8 inches
  • Power: up to 40 PSI
  • Weight: 4.7 pounds

If you want the comfort of knowing you can inflate your car tyre at a moment’s notice then the Kensun D1002 is for you. When you are out and about this air compressor plugs directly into the cigarette lighter in your car and is powerful enough to be able to inflate tyres up to 33 inches. Despite its very compact size – it will fit neatly into the boot of your car – it will inflate comfortably up to 40 PSI.

The compressor also comes with cables that connect it to a 110v mains supply so it can be used around the home and garden. With its three nozzle adaptors it will also make light work of inflating a variety of items including footballs, bicycle tyres, beach toys and pool accessories. It will also make light work of inflating your air mattress for those unexpected overnight guests.

PROS

  • Compact – just perfect for the car
  • Multiple value connectors for a variety of
  • 9 feet 12v cord and a 6 feet 110v cord
  • Excellent value for money

CONS

  • Larger tires may take a while but patience is a virtue!

The Verdict - As far a value for money tyre inflators go, the Kensun D1002 really is the tops. Don’t expect lightning fast inflation but if you just want something around the house, in the garage or even tucked neatly away in the car for when you need a good supply of compressed air, then this is the 12v compressor to put at the top of your list.


2. The Viair 45040 450C Air Compressor Kit

Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions: 12.75 x 4 x 7 inches
  • Power: 150 PSI
  • Weight: 9.75 pounds
best 12 volt air compressor image

Centred on the powerful Viar 45040 45C, the Viair 45040 450C Air Compressor Kit contains everything the urbane mobile air compressor user might need. As well as the compressor itself – more of which later – this kit also a selection of mounting hardware and vibration isolators so it can be securely positioned in a home garage or workshop. It also includes freeze resistant wiring and air filters to ensure reliable operation in all weathers and conditions – truly urbane!

As for the compressor itself – running from a 12 volt supply it provides 150 PSI and an excellent duty cycle. The duty cycle is the amount of off time required for the compressor to cool down, and this machine has an excellent 100% duty cycle meaning you can run it continuously. There is enough power in this machine for fast filling compressed air tanks up to 5 gallon capacity while the compressor design means there is no need for fiddly oil maintenance to keep it running smoothly.

PROS

  • 100 percent duty cycle
  • Powerful enough to quickly fill 65 gallon tanks
  • Oil free running
  • Light weight just pick up and go

CONS

  • ​Car engine needs to be running during use
  • What’s not to like?

The Verdict - One of the better 12v air compressors around, this model is especially popular with mobile tyre fitters. If you’re waiting for an emergency new tyre and your fitter arrives with one of these babies – you’re in business.

Don’t be fooled by the 12V running, the continuous duty cycle is also more than enough to allow smaller workshops to build a compressed air infrastructure and the mobile nature (it is only 9.75 pounds after all) means it is perfect for those needing air on the go.


3. The Q Industries MV50 Super-Flow High-Volume 12-Volt Air Compressor

Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 8
  • Power: 120 PSI
  • Weight: 1 pound
2nd best 12v air compressor image

The MV50 SuperFlow high-volume air compressor is exactly the compressor you need for those off road and on road tyre incidents. The 120 PSI rating means it is powerful enough to make light work of even larger tyres. It comes with crocodile clips so is very easy to connect securely to your car battery.

It also includes a long 16 foot hose so you can get to all of the tyres whilst connected to the battery. Cleverly, those designers at Q Industries think of everything – the hose is coiled so that even 16 feet can be stored neatly and tidily. Cables and hose can be stored in the thoughtfully supplied storage bag that is supplied. Imagine – a 12v air compressor with its own tote bag!

PROS

  • Speedy tyre inflation
  • Portable not luggable
  • Long, 16 foot hose for use with larger vehicles
  • Ideal security for off road trips

CONS

  • Spare parts not easily found
  • Not always easy to use indoors where a 12 volt supply may not be to hand

​The verdict - Pack for your off road trip and set off happily with this little gem in your boot. Light weight, it even comes with its own carry bag. Powerful enough to make easy work of SUV and 4X4 tyres, this flexible little compressor can also be used to inflate any number of balls, pool accessories and other children’s toys so it really is an essential addition to your off road vacation preparations.


4. The ARB (CKMP12) 12V High-Performance Portable Air Compressor

Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions: 17.3 x 9.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Weight: 16 pound

Rugged is as rigged gets seems to describe this 12 volt compressor perfectly. Despite the rugged specifications (check out the size and weight) convenience is the name of the game; the compressor and all of the added extras (host, crocodile cables etc. all stow neatly in a robust carry case.

From the start, when you open the durable carry case it comes in you can sense that this compressor is designed for the heavy duty end of the 12v market place.

Sealed against moisture and dust damage this is a high output compressor that is engineered to meet the needs of any off road needs. Surprisingly, it also has a more gentle side that makes it perfect for inflating pool accessories and other children’s toys.

PROS

  • Extra-long 19 foot hose
  • Includes all fittings for tyre and leisure uses
  • Comes is a durable carry case

CONS

  • Weight, weight and heavier weight
  • It’s a bit bigger than most

​The verdict - Definitely not for the feint hearted, the ARB CKMP12 is a high performance air compressor that is exactly what you need if you plan to take a trip off road. With enough power to inflate the largest of SUV tyres this is an air compressor you don’t want to be off road without. Even the extra-long 19 foot hose is designed with larger vehicles in need. Happy holidays with this on board.


5. The Master Flow MF-1040 Cyclone High Volume Portable Air Compressor

Quick Facts:

  • Dimensions: 8.6 x 9.1 x 7.6 inches
  • Power: 150 PSI
  • Weight: 1 pound

Small but perfectly formed, as they say. The Master Flow MF-1040 is a compact little air compressor that fits neatly into its own carrying case for neat stowing in your car, SUV or 4x4. Unlike many of the other 12v air compressors it has an integrated gauge that reads air pressure clearly and easily. Inflating tyres, air beds, and pool accessories was never easier than with this powerful compressor.

It features a coiled hose so that you don’t need to worry about storing large lengths of hose and the carry bag also contains the necessary attachments for inflating a wide variety of things. It also features a cleverly designed carry handle and attaches to a power supply easily using the cigarette lighter in your car. Don’t be fooled by the small size and compact design, the MF-1040 packs a real punch as it delivers 30 liters of air a minute at up to 150 PSI.

PROS

  • Easy attachment via car cigarette lighter
  • Incorporates an integrated pressure gauge
  • Storage bag for accessories

CONS

  • Needs modification to use main power
  • Perhaps a bit lightweight for the largest SUVs and 4x4s

The verdict - You could do a lot worse than the Master Flow MF-1040 Cyclone High Volume Portable Air Compressor if you need a portable air compressor. With its neat storage bag and light weight it will stow neatly in the boot of any vehicle. It is perfect for inflating tyres on cars and standard sized and will double perfectly for inflating a range of domestic items as well.


With the knowledge of the above 5 models of 12 volt compressors, you should have more than enough confidence to take your compressor anywhere without worry! The best 12volt air compressor will keep you smiling for years to come.