Best mini air compressors for tyres 2018

We group-tested five mini air compressors to see which is best for inflating your tyres.

We can’t stress enough the importance of tyres – they’re arguably the most important performance element of your car – so we tested a collection of 12V mini air compressors to find the best, so you can maintain your tyre pressures.

No matter how powerful your engine or brakes are, how sophisticated your suspension set-up is, if your tyres aren't up to scratch your car won’t perform at its maximum. Therefore, it's crucial to keep your tyres in tip-top condition. One way of doing so is ensuring they're inflated to the correct pressures using a mini air compressor.

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> evo performance tyre test 2018

Incorrectly inflated tyres will reduce the performance of your car, offering less grip, compromising ride quality and increasing fuel consumption. So, whether your priming your car for a trackday or about to head out on a long journey, and need to inflate your tyres, these are the best mini air compressors around 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 the display gauges. The crucial metric by which they were judged was the time taken by each to inflate a 15-inch tyre from 20psi to 30psi.

The compressors reviews

1. Ring 12V Preset Digital Air Compressor with LED Light RAC 635

Price: £28Time from 20-30psi: Two minutes, 34 secondsRating: ★★★★★

Ring’s compressor took the spoils, offering excellent value for money and a respectable inflation time, if not the quickest. Measuring 70cm the hose was one of the longest on test and the 3.5m-long power cable proved perfectly adequate, while the gauge made for easy reading so you could keep an eye on the rising air pressure.

Buy it from Amazon

2. Michelin 12266 High Power Rapid Tyre Inflator with DPS

Price: £58Time from 20-30psi: Two minutesRating: ★★★★☆

Michelin's device offers extra functionality, allowing you to charge your phone (via a USB socket) and inflate your tyres simultaneously. It’s not all frills though and still functions to purpose; it posted the second quickest inflation time and displayed the most accurate pressure readout. Performance-wise then we couldn't pick holes in the 12266, however it priced itself out of victory, costing over twice as much our winner.

Buy it from Halfords

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

Price: £22Time from 20-30psi: Two minutes, 23 secsRating: ★★★★☆

Despite being the cheapest compressor on test it gave little away to those above it in performance terms, undercutting our winner in the timed inflation test. 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.

Buy it from Amazon

4. Michelin 12265 High Power Tyre Inflator with DPS

Price: £45Time from 20-30psi: One minute, 55 secondsRating: ★★★★☆

While playing second fiddle to the 12266, it actually inflated the tyre quicker than its more expensive relative. It does forgo some functionality, however, going without preset pressures and a carry bag. That said, it’s quite a bit cheaper, hence it receives the same four-star rating as the 12266.

Buy it from Halfords

5. Halfords Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator

Price: £40Time from 20-30psi: Two minutes, nine secondsRating: ★★★☆☆

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 accuracy of the gauge was fairly precise. However, it failed to achieve four stars on account of its hefty price.

Buy it from Halfords

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