How To Use Air Compressor For Tires – The Ultimate Guide

One of the worst things that can happen to you when driving is having a flat tire. Flat tires will stop you in your tracks and can easily ruin a scenic drive or cause you to become late at a meeting. What can you do to prevent this?

This is where air compressors come in. They can blow air into the tire and help you continue on your drive. If you don’t know how to use it, don’t fret, as this article is here to show you how to use air compressor for tires.

Let’s get started.

What Air Compressor Do You Need?

A portable electric air compressor is necessary. Electric air compressors only need a battery to work properly and so are easier to carry around. 12 V air compressors are required.

If you’re using air compressor for tires on a personal car or sedan, 35 PSI air compressors will suffice. However, if you’re using air compressor for truck tires, they will not be enough.

The safest option to have is a 90 PSI air compressor, which will work for the majority of vehicles.  A portable air compressor for maintain truck tires is often much more expensive since truck tires need more air.

Using An Air Compressor

Using an air compressor is not difficult, but there are some steps you need to be very careful about. First, we’ll need to look at a few safety measures that you need to follow:

Safety Precautions

While properly following the safety precautions is important at all times, it is especially important at areas like gas stations. The first step in learning how to use air compressor for tires at a gas station is to know how to prevent accidents. These can be done by using the steps below:

Let The Tire Cool Down: Due to friction when driving and braking, the tires on your car can heat up. So when you stop to refill the air in the tires, it is important to give the tires some time to cool down.

The heat from the tires can react badly with the air pressure and cause the tire valves to be damaged. This is especially dangerous in a gas station.

A few minutes will suffice. Only attempt to use the air compressor if the tire is cool to the touch.

Inspect The Equipment: Before using the air compressor, make sure it is properly functioning. In the case of a portable electric air compressor, make sure the battery has enough energy left in it to work. You should also inspect the other gauges, such as the pressure gauge, to see if they are showing the proper readings or not.

Filling Up The Tire

Once you’ve observed the proper safety precautions, you can start using your air compressor. Follow the steps below to learn how to use a portable air compressor for tires:

Determine The Pressure Required: Once the tire has cooled down, you need to check the air pressure needed for your tire. You can use a tire gauge to check this. As a general rule of thumb, most cars will need around 35 PSI.

If you’re using air compressor to fill truck tires, you will need around 90 PSI. It’s important not to exceed these pressures as they can cause the tires to become too inflated and disrupt your driving.

Unscrew The Tire Valve: Locate the valve of your tire. Once you’ve found it, unscrew the cap. If you properly unlocked the cap, you will hear the hissing sound of air escaping. Place the cap near you and make sure not to lose it.

Connect The Nozzle: Take the nozzle of your air compressor and insert it into the valve you opened. Tightly screw it together until you no longer hear a hissing sound. It is important to properly connect and secure them; otherwise, you’ll have leakage problems.

Adjust The Pressure: Using the gauge and settings on your air compressor, you can adjust the pressure and monitor it. Keep adding air until the gauge reaches the required pressure for your tire.

If you feel that you’ve allowed too much air to enter the tire, you can unscrew the compressor and let some air flow out until the tier is of adequate size.

Put The Tire Valve Cap In: Once the required pressure is reached, slowly decrease the pressure gauge until it is zero and then take out the nozzle. Carefully screw the valve cap back in until the tire valve is properly sealed.

Air Compressors for Bikes

If you’re curious about how to use air compressor for bike tires, you can use the previous steps outlined above to pump your bike tires. The issue with bike tires is that since there are many different bike tires, the required pressure for them varies.

A 90 PSI air compressor will suffice for most of them, but it is recommended to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct pressure.

What type of air compressor do I need to inflate car tires?

You should have a high-quality air compressor that has a high volume of air, a long hose, and a large surface area for the outlet. Gas stations usually have small compressors that only produce enough pressure to inflate bike tires or outdoor equipment. You need something with more power to be able to inflate car tires quickly.

A good example is the Air Force 400 model from Craftsman which can provide up to 400 PSI and an extended hose length of 5 feet which will allow you sufficient reach for all four tires on your car. It’s also 11 pounds which means it’s very portable and easy to move around; but it also lasts up to 18 hours continuously before needing recharge (which makes it really convenient).

Can I use Portable Air Compressor for Tires?

Portable air compressors are used for tire inflation work. However, the pressure that they provide will not be as high as a regular compressor or an air station. You can approximate it to a bicycle pump obviously with a higher psi rating. But you will need to do more number of efforts in order to fill up your tires.

It does work and is better than doing nothing at all but if you have a car or truck which requires higher pressure then this might not be good enough for those applications. Inflation of some small tires even with portable air compressor may take 10 minutes or more because it has lower CFMs (Cubic Foot per Minute).


We hope that this article has proved sufficient enough in answering your queries and confusions about how to use air compressor for tires. Using an air compressor is not difficult, but you need to make sure you have the right one for your vehicle of choice.

Remember not to add too much air pressure, or else you’ll find yourself having a bumpy ride.



Shawkat is a passionate home and auto mechanic who enjoys sharing his knowledge with others. He has been working on cars and homes for over 9 years and has a wealth of experience to share. From indoor tools to outdoors, crafting to automotive, you will see his passion for tools. And he is not alone here, either. He collaborates with other users to give you the best possible tool experience. As the founder of Geartoolsbuddy, Shakat is always happy to help people with their queries and doubts about power and hand tools.