One of the most common reasons for people to get an air compressor is to inflate vehicle tires. With properly inflated tires, not only does the tire itself last longer but it saves money on fuel costs as well! Almost all air compressors used to power air tools are capable of performing this simple task, although different pressure ratings as well as air tank volumes of the compressor will determine how quickly they are inflated. Most car tires require around 40 psi, with light trucks requiring something like 80 psi and heavy trucks around 150 psi. But each vehicle has its own specifications and these should be identified prior to any tire inflation. So what else do you need in addition to the compressor to be able to inflate tires properly? A tire inflator and gauge. The majority of tires have what is known as a Schrader valve and the majority of tire inflators attach to this type of valve.
Popular Tire Inflator Gauges
Thread Campbell Hausfeld MP6000
1/4" NPT Astro Pneumatic 3018 1/4" NPT Milton S506
1/4" NPT ARB ARB605
1/4" NPT AstroAI ATG250
1/4" NPT TireTek TXL-Pro
1/4" NPT EPAuto 255
Campbell Hausfeld MP6000
The range of the MP6000 is from 10 – 150 psi. The chuck is supposed to be the clip-on type which makes it hands-free, and it also has a relief valve for reducing tire pressures if they are over-filled. The MP6000 will even retain the pressure reading when the chuck is removed so that you can record the pressures in a log if you are so inclined. Note that, unlike some other inflators, an air hose ‘quick disconnector’ is NOT included with the inflator, so this will have to be purchased separately.
Astro Pneumatic 3018
This tire inflator is digital using a backlit LCD. Conveniently, it also has an auto shut-off feature for those of us who are more forgetful. As with other inflators, it can also be used to deflate over-pressurized tires – the lever has two positions (pull the lever lightly to the first position to deflate and pull it all the way to inflate – releasing the lever measures the tire pressure). Although the chuck can be clipped onto the valve stem, as with other inflators getting a tight seal is can be difficult unless placed squarely on the valve, which is no mean feat, and if you move the hose around too much then you can end up with air leakage which throws off the accuracy of the gauge. To be sure, hold the chuck in position on the valve – but this is probably true of most air chucks. This is gauge is unusually accurate (1/10th psi). Even comes with an extra battery although battery replacement can be challenging due to screw-placement design, so make sure you use the correct screwdriver (Philips #1), so you don’t strip the screw head. The whole unit is covered in rubber which is a nice feature providing it with exception protection from impacts.
Milton is a very well known tire gauge brand thats been around for ages. The materials they use to make their tire inflator gauges are of high quality and the devices are built to last, a bit like the company! However, it does not come with a quick disconnect for an air hose as some other inflators do. From the picture on the right, you may be wondering whether there is a gauge on the Milton S506 – have no fear – there is. But it is tiny (so not ideal for those with vision issues) and it is of the more traditional type, indeed, the Milton gauge has been around for a very long time, partly because of its reliability, and is often a favorite of the more mature consumer. Unlike more modern inflators, the Milton does not have any deflation mechanism. And the chuck does not clip onto the tire valve so you need two hands to operate it successfully. But the nice thing about it is that you dont have to keep stopping inflation to check pressure as with other inflator gauges. It simply works while you are inflating, allowing you to stop the moment you reach your target. Thats probably why there is no deflator mechnanism – its just not needed most of the time.
The ARB605 is a decent tool but don’t expect the highest quality craftmanship for the price you are paying. It has a range from 0 to 100 psi, but accuracy is not as high as other gauges, and below 25 psi, you can not rely on it for an accurate reading. It does have a handy deflating button incorporated on the side of the unit so that you can quickly let out some air from over-inflated tires while it is still attached to the tire. Unlike most other tire inflators, this one does come with a quick disconnect for a female quick coupler, usually found on compressor air hoses, and the connector is attached to the inflator using the standard 1/4″ NPT thread.