Best mini air compressors 2022

Correct tyre pressures are vital for the safety and performance of your car. We run down the best air compressors on the market to help you keep them in check

Tyre maintenance is vital for the performance and safety of your car, so to help you easily maintain the correct pressures we tested a collection of 12V mini air compressors to find the best on the market.

No matter the output of your engine or how sophisticated your suspension might be, poorly maintained tyres will always restrict performance, compromising ride quality and increasing tyre wear. To prevent this, it's crucial to keep them in tip-top condition, with the first step being to ensure they're inflated to the correct pressures.

Whether you're priming your car for an evo trackday or about to head out on a lengthy road trip, these are the best mini air compressors for the job.

How we tested them

We assessed each compressor based on their practical merits, such as the length of hoses and power lines and the clarity of display gauges and controls. The crucial metric by which they were judged was the time taken by each to inflate a 15-inch tyre from 20 psi to 30 psi.

1. Ring RTC1000 Premium Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator

Price: £45 Time from 20 to 30 psi: 1 minute, 43 seconds Rating: 5 stars

Our winner proved itself as a good all-rounder with a short inflation time for such a small unit. Even better is the fact that the RTC1000 is highly intuitive to operate, with a clear backlit display, a rotary preset controller, an enormous power button and a valve connector that’s easy to fit. Ring even provides a spare fuse and four dust caps for when one inevitably goes missing.

2. Wolf Glovebox Genie 3-in-1 Digital Tyre Inflator 

Price: £19 Time from 20 to 30 psi: 1 minute, 55 seconds Rating: 4.5 stars

Despite being the cheapest compressor on test it held up well in performance terms, managing to finish in under two minutes. The button layout made it intuitive to operate, while the gauge was clear enough to read and the long hose and power lead completed the rounded package. At this price it’s hard to argue against the Glovebox Genie.

3. Sakura SS5332 12V Digital Air Compressor

Price: £25 Time from 20 to 30 psi: 1 minute, 10 seconds Rating: 4 stars

Another low-priced inflator that puts up a decent effort, the Sakura is louder and slower than the Glovebox Genie, but is one of the most portable on this list as it weighs less than a kilo and even comes with its own carry bag. The three-metre power cord was a particular plus point with the Sakura, but the gauge misread by around 1.5 psi.

4. Ring RAC830 12V Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator

Price: £65 Time from 20 to 30 psi: 1 minute, 3 seconds Rating: 4 stars

The second Ring product in this test, the RAC830 is intended for larger vehicles, which means it has a bigger motor that weighs over 2.5 kilos. The upside of this added power is one of the quickest inflation times. The downsides, though, are that this inflator was one of the noisiest we tested at 55 dB, and it is rather bulky to carry around. The controls are simple enough and a long 3.5-metre power cable helped the RAC830 score highly.

5. Michelin Programmable Superfast 4x4/SUV Digital Tyre Inflator

Price: £75 Time from 20 to 30 psi: 46 seconds Rating: 4 stars

The Superfast certainly lived up to its name with the quickest inflation time of the entire test. It even managed this while being one of the quietest to operate. Where the Superfast fell short of that elusive fifth star, though, was its colossal 3kg weight, a cord and cable that was difficult to wrap up tidily, and the high price tag.

6. Michelin 12312 Programmable Rapid 4x4/SUV Digital Tyre Inflator 

Price: £70 Time from 20 to 30 psi: 1 minute, 10 seconds Rating: 3.5 stars

This Michelin may not have been as quick as the Superfast but it certainly wasn’t sluggish either, and was more or less as quiet. A built-in carry handle and area for storing both dust caps and the cable were useful added touches, too. A fiddly valve connector and a very thin storage bag were disappointing at this price point, though.

7. Halfords 239074 Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator

Price: £40 Time from 20 to 30 psi: 1 minute, 46 seconds Rating: 3 stars

This compressor scored well in ease of use; it was quick to pack away and simple to swap between the three pressure measurements, and like a few others, a preset function was available and easily initiated. Inflation time was quick, too, not far off of two minutes flat, while the gauge was fairly precise. However, it failed to achieve four stars on account of its hefty price.

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