Tips to buy the right size tire inflator to work on your car?

Best Tips for Getting the right size tire inflator

A common question asked when buying a tire inflator air compressor for car is, what size tire inflator do you need to work on your car?

With the number of tire inflators available on the market, this question comes as no surprise because the options are plenty.

There are few points to make note of, so read on to find out what size of air compressor you need for your tire inflator. You will be well on your way to ordering the right one from a car accessories store if you follow these steps.

Top tips for getting the right size tire inflator

There is a component of the air compressor known as a vessel, which looks like a large tank. It must be noted that a bigger vessel does not necessarily mean more air.

It is more important to consider the combination between the pump output and the vessel size. You should also consider the maximum pressure of the compressor which is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch) or Bar.

You need to consider what exactly the air compressor is going to be used for in the garage at home. Is it just for inflating tires, or will you be using it for other garage tools?

What size air compressor do you need?

Most air compressors are fitted with a pressure switch. The pressure switch is responsible for turning off the air compressor when the pressure gets too high and switching it on again when it gets too low. Usually, the pressure switch maintains the pressure between 7 Bar and 10 Bar.

The air compressor should operate only 80% of the time. If it operates for longer than this, you will risk the motor unit getting damaged.

If the air compressor works less than 80% of the time, water may condense in the oil, which also may damage the unit.

What is pressure rating?

How do you go about deciding what pressure rating to choose? You can decide by the maximum pressure you would want to inflate your tires to, or the pressure you need to operate your garage tools.

Just choose a pressure rating above what you need and that should be good enough.

A pressure rating of 10 Bar or 150 PSI is adequate for most of the applications in your garage.

Truck tires are a little bit bigger and require a higher-pressure rating to get inflated. The size of the air compressor needed to inflate commercial truck tires will vary depending on their size. A ballpark figure would be 120 or 130 PSI which is 13 Bar.

This means you would need an air compressor that goes up to 13 Bar.

What is the CFM rating?

Every piece of equipment that you will be using in the garage that requires an air compressor to work will have a CFM rating.

The rating is used to identify how much CFM of air the tool requires to operate efficiently. For example, if you are using a tire inflator, air compressor tool, and a tire changer. Each of the tools have a CFM rating of 4. That means you need a total CFM of 12. A compressor rated at 14 CFM will be perfect for the job.

If you just need the air compressor for a single application and will not be using multiple tools at once, then an air compressor of 8 CFM will be more than sufficient.

What vessel size will you need?

The size of the vessel does not determine the amount of compressed air that can be stored in it. And its size does not correlate with the pressure rating. The large size of the tank or vessel does not mean a more powerful air compressor. You have to consider the CFM rating and the pressure rating.

If you require a large amount of compressed air in a short interval, then you would require a vessel the size of 200 litres. This size tank is not often used in automotive applications.

A pump with a CFM rating of 6 could fill up a 500-litre vessel to a pressure rating of 10 bar in about 30 minutes. If you need a large amount of compressed air, in a longer interval, you need a larger vessel with a small pump.

A bigger pump is more expensive than a larger vessel. You must select the right combination when selecting an air compressor.

Other things to consider with an air compressor

The garage layout is also important to consider when purchasing an air compressor.

In this case performance takes a back seat and the garage size will determine the overall weight of the air compressor, its dimensions and the noise level it creates. Air compressors can be awfully noisy and the bigger they are, the louder they get. Considering all of these factors, you also have to decide on where exactly you will place the air compressor.


Pressure and capacity are the two main factors one should look at when purchasing an air compressor to inflate tires. Pressure is the PSI rating whereas capacity is the CFM rating ( cubic feet per minute).

Pressure is another way of saying how strong your compressor is, and capacity is about how much you need.

Add up the requirements of your tire inflator and tools and decide on which is the right size of air compressor you will need.

Hopefully this guide will give you a clearer picture and you will be able to get the right air compressor for your needs.


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