Can an Air Compressor Inflate Tires?

Many people are familiar with the large air compressors at certain gas stations around American. They are commonly self-service and are either free or cost a few quarters to use. The primary purpose of these air pumps is to fill car tires. But, can a home air compressor also inflate tires? 

Yes, a home air compressor can inflate tires. Most compressors can inflate small bike tires all the way up to large car tires without any issues. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on an air compressor to inflate tires. A decent home garage air compressor will be able to do the trick. 

Of course, not all air compressors are made the same. The typical home garage compressor is small, relatively light in weight, and can easily be moved where needed. Some are designed to fit in the car trunk and are powered through the car cigarette lighter outlet (if you have one). There are also large shop style air compressors that are made to remain stationary due to their large tanks and they provide a significant amount of horsepower. 

Inflating Bike and Car Tires

You do not need an industrial-style air compressor to inflate tires. For example, the extremely portable EPAuto air compressor shown below will inflate tires on bikes up to midsize SUVs.  However, it does not have the capacity to inflate any truck tires including light or heavy-duty truck tires. We love this air compressor because of its simple read digit display and auto shut off feature when the needed PSI is reached. It is a solid option for car and SUV tires or other light-duty tasks. 

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
  • Convenience: Plug directly into Cigarette Lighter Socket of your Vehicle. 12VDC, 10 to 15 amps, 120 to 180W. Equipped with 12V-DC Cigarette Lighter Socket Plug, NOT 110V AC plug.
  • Multiple Uses: Inflate tires on cars, bikes, sedan and midsize SUV. (Engine size under 3.5 liter) Universal valve connector for schrader valve is ready to use. Additional adapters include needles value (for basketball, balls), short cone/long cone adapters (for inflatable kayak, swimming pool accessories, etc)
  • Capacity: Does NOT Support truck tires, for instance: light truck tires (LT), heavy duty truck tires or any truck tires.
  • Easy to Read: 4 Display Units: PSI, KPA, BAR, KG/CM; LED FLASHLIGHT: Bright Torch
  • Prevent Over Inflation: Auto shut off when reaching the desired tire pressure. Overheat protection shuts off automatically when overloading. USPTO Patent NO:D875,788

Last update on 2021-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Inflating Truck Tires

Inflating truck tires is a heavy-duty task and requires a bit more power out of the air compressor than some of the smaller air compressors can provide. The Tirewell compressor below is an example of a solid portable, but powerful option for inflating tires on trucks, RVs, campers, golf carts, and other larger size tires. Despite its heavy-duty capabilities, it can still handle the smaller stuff such as inflating balls, wrafts, car and bike tires. 

TIREWELL 12V Tire Inflator-Heavy Duty Double Cylinders Direct Drive Metal Pump 150PSI, Compressor with Battery Clamp and 5M Extension Air Hose, SUVs/Trucks/Vans/RVs
  • FAST INFLATION: maximum pressure 150PSI, air flow 2.12CFM@0PSI, inflates standard vehicle tire in 2 minutes (195/65/R15, 0-35psi)
  • STABILITY TECHNOLOGY: fuselage with four-rod design, effectively reduce the vibration and noise, rubber feet to make sure the air pump stays where it is placed and does not move around during operation ,make the air compressor more powerful
  • DOUBLE CYLINDERS DIRECT DRIVE INFLATION PUMP: In the direct drive of the motor, the two cylinders at the same time compressed air, powerful and fast inflatable, also direct-drive motor makes the drive low rotating speed, high efficiency, compact, quiet and stability, and easy to control
  • WORKS: particularly suitable for SUVs, trucks, vans, RVs, crossovers, MPVs, campers, trailers, minivans, also can use for cars, motorcycles, golf carts, bicycles, and more
  • EQUIPPED with 5M extension hose and high quality battery clamp, extension hose meet the needs of the long-wheelbase vehicle inflatable, battery clamp connect directly to your vehicle battery, power tire inflator and other 12-volt devices, like vacuum, coffee maker, and more

Last update on 2021-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You can also consider a pancake air compressor for truck tires like the Craftsman below. While this is not as portable as the Tirewell above, it allows for more versatile to run things like smaller air tools (i.e. brad nailers). You can purchase this Craftsman with an air compressor accessory kit, which will have everything needed to inflate almost any consumer-style tire. 

CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, Pancake, Oil-Free with 13 Piece Accessory Kit (CMEC6150K)
  • 6 gallon pancake maximizes portability and stored air
  • Durable, oil free pump for long life and no maintenance
  • 150 max PSI to ensure adequate cut in pressure for a variety of applications
  • 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI allows for quick compressor recovery time. Voltage - 120 volt
  • Easily starts up in cold weather

Last update on 2021-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Free Tire Air

While an air compressor is a convenient tool to have available when tire pressure is low, there are options for free air in many areas. You can find free air by visiting the map on You simply type in your address, city and state, or zip code and the website will pull up locations in your area that offer free air. In our area the locations were primarily gas stations (i.e. self-serve air pumps) or chain tire stores. 

Asking a neighbor to borrow their air compressor or to fill a low tire for you is not an unreasonable request in most situations. Inflating a tire typically only takes a couple of minutes so you really won’t be placing an excessive burden on your neighbor if you ask them for this favor. We suspect most neighbors would be more than happy to help you out.