Air compressors come in many different sizes to accommodate a variety of tasks. The size you need will depend on the tire you are filling. A common rule of thumb is to use the compressor’s rated air volume for the tire’s inflation pressure.

Most car owners ask what size air compressor do I need to fill car tires? The simple answer is: To fill car tires, you need a portable air compressor that provides 30 psi for a standard tire and 36 psi for an over-inflated tire.

However, the psi is not the only factor to consider when looking for a suitable compressor for car tires. There are a lot of factors to look at CFM, duty cycle, tank size, and dimensions.

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need For Car Tires?

The size of your car tires determines the size of the compressor you need. This is because there are different types of air compressors for car tires, depending on the size of your tire.

For example, if you have car tires 18 inches in diameter, you’ll need a compressor that can provide 34 – 35 psi of pressure. To find the recommended tire pressure, you can check your car’s owner’s manual or look online.

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How to inflate tires with a portable air compressor

Factors to look at when selecting the right size air compressor for car tires

When it comes to airing up your car tires, you need an air compressor to get the job done quickly and efficiently. That’s why selecting a suitable air compressor is so important. When looking for a compressor to fill your car tires, you’ll need to consider the following factors:

CFM rating

CFM, or cubic feet per minute, is the amount of air a compressor can move in a minute. This is the essential factor to consider when selecting an air compressor for your vehicle.

The higher the CFM, the more air a compressor can move in that time. The more air you can fill your tires within a minute, the less time it will take to get all 4 tires inflated.

The recommended CFM for inflating car tires is 1 – 2. The CFM rating is listed on the packaging of most air compressors, so it’s easy to check before purchasing.

Related Article about CFM:

How to increase cfm on air compressor

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle of an air compressor is the amount of time the compressor can be run at full power before it needs to cool down. For car tires, you’ll want an air compressor with a duty cycle of at least 50%. It means the compressor can run for half an hour without cooling down.

Tank Size

This is the amount of air that the compressor can store. Again, the more air you have stored, the less time it will take to fill all of your tires.

A larger tank size also means that the compressor can work for more extended periods before needing to be refilled. But for inflating car tires, a tank size of 1-2 gallons is more than enough.


When purchasing an air compressor for car tires, the final factor to consider is portability. The air compressor needs to be easy to move around to take it with you wherever you go. It’s also important that the compressor is lightweight, so carrying it around is not a hassle.

When choosing an air compressor for car tires, consider all of these factors. With the right compressor, inflating your tires will be a breeze.

What are some of the best air compressors for car tires?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as different people may have different opinions on the best air compressors for car tires.

However, some good options include the Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor and DEWALT 20V MAX* Cordless Tire Inflator.

These are the best air compressors for car tires because they have a high CFM rating, making them ideal for quickly inflating your tires. They are also lightweight and portable, making them easy to take with you.

How can I inflate my car tires with an air compressor?

Inflating car tires with an air compressor is a pretty simple process.

  • Locate the tire valve and remove the cap.
  • Fit the air compressor nozzle onto the valve and tighten it in place.
  • Finally, please turn on the air compressor and allow it to pump air into the tire until it reaches the desired pressure.
  • Once the tire is inflated to the desired pressure, turn off the air compressor and remove the nozzle from the valve.
  • Finally, replace the cap on the valve, and you are finished.

Final Thoughts:

Smaller compressors may not be able to fill larger car tires, while larger compressors may be too big and bulky for smaller cars.

Be sure to check the CFM rating, duty cycle, and tank size of the compressor before purchasing to ensure it’s the right fit for your vehicle. And don’t forget to consider the portability of the compressor.

If it’s too heavy or difficult to move around, it may not be the best option. I hope this article was helpful and answered any questions you may have about what size air compressor is needed for car tires.


Can you use a regular air compressor to inflate car tires?

Yes, you can use a regular air compressor to inflate car tires. Just be sure to check the maximum pressure rating of your compressor before beginning, and then adjust the pressure accordingly.
Many home air compressors can reach up to 120 PSI, more than enough to inflate a car tire. Just remember to go slowly and release any excess pressure before removing the hose from the tire valve, or you may end up with a flat tire.

Can I use an air pump to inflate my car tires?

An air pump can inflate car tires, but it’s not recommended. Air pumps are designed for smaller tasks, like bike tires or rafts, and they may not have the power to fill a car tire to the recommended pressure.

Can you use a 12-volt air compressor to inflate car tires?

Yes, portable air compressors specially used for car tires come in 12-volt models.

By Matthew

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