Flat tires are super annoying and very detrimental as well. Suppose you’ll need to go somewhere urgently or maybe you’re on the road, going on a road trip, and all of a sudden, bam! You get a flat tire.
As annoying as it may be, you’ll need to get back on the road soon. And only an air compressor can get you out of such an atrocious situation. But, how to use an air compressor for inflating tires? Can you use it without any professional help?
Of course, you can. Using an air compressor is pretty straightforward. All you’ll need is to get familiar with the machine and follow the simple instruction I’ve mentioned in this article.
For your convenience, I’ve divided the whole process into several simple steps. Let’s dive in.
How Does an Air Compressor Work?
It’s essential that you get familiar with the compressor you’ll be using. There are plenty of air compressor variations available in the market. And not all of them are suitable for inflating tires and other inflatables.
Many compressors are actually built for heavy-duty applications in fields like agriculture, production, medicine, and more. The ones we use for inflating things are comparatively smaller, but they all work in the same mechanism.
Air compressors take in atmospheric air, compress it and store it in a tank. Compressing the air generates potential energy which can be converted to work later on by releasing the gas through a small nozzle.
By converting the potential energy into kinetic energy, huge loads of work can be done. But the compressor we use for inflatables don’t need to generate as much power, and that’s why they can be smaller in size.
If you own a vehicle, getting a compressor can reduce a lot of unnecessary hassle. Compact, portable air compressors are getting popular nowadays and they’re also super easy to operate.
You might also find an air compressor at the nearby gas station, where you can fill up your tire free of charge. But you’ll need to operate the machine on your own.
Necessary Tools Checklist
Inflating a car tire isn’t just putting air into it. There are a lot of other factors that need to be considered here.
For properly inflating your car’s tires you’ll need some indispensable tools which will help you keep the whole process in check. Let’s take a look at what tools we’ll need.
1. Tire Gauge
While inflating a tire, maintaining its pressure level is a must. You’ll find the pressure level (PSI level) of the tire ingrained on its body but filling the tire to this ingrained pressure level is a mistake.
That rating is actually used to determine what type of compressor will be the most suitable for your tire. To get a proper measurement of how much air your tire will need, use a tire gauge.
A tire gauge will help you avoid overinflating and under-inflating your tires, both of which are harmful. Over-inflating your tire will reduce tire friction, which makes the vehicle much harder to control.
Many people still over-inflate their tires for saving fuel. Which does work, but at the expense of safety and vehicle control. So, if you’re one of them, please avoid over-inflating for your own safety.
Under-inflating on the contrary increases friction. Which increases fuel consumption and wears out the tires much faster.
2. Pressure Regulator
A regulator maintains the safety of the pumping process. It doesn’t let the compressor pump your tires too quickly. The regulator also makes sure that the compressor doesn’t exceed the set PSI value while pumping.
If you have a portable compressor that works digitally, most likely there is a built-in regulator inside it.
Without a regulator, a compressor can escalate the PSI value very quickly, which is really dangerous. That’s why using a regulator has no alternative.
3. Tire Chuck
Using a tire chuck isn’t always necessary. Compressors that are built for tires, come with a hose and nozzle that can be connected directly to the tire’s air valve.
But if the compressor doesn’t have such arrangements, a tire chuck is what you’ll need. The head of a tire chuck can be connected to the tire’s air valve. There’s also an air connector in it, where the nozzle from the compressor is attached.
Using the Compressor to Inflate Tires – Step by Step
By following these simple steps correctly, you can properly fill up your tire using a compressor. Let’s dive right in.
1. Getting the Setup Ready
Before everything else, you’ll need to get the setup ready. Find a suitable space in your garage or yard that has a plug-in socket right next to it. This is where you’ll work with your compressor.
Keep the vehicle at a close distance, so that the cables and nozzles don’t get too stretched. Make sure there are no water sources near the socket or machine.
2. Get the Tire Ready
Next up, it’s time to get your tires ready. You won’t have to clean it or anything. Just locate the air valve and use the gauge to find the desired PSI value. This will help you determine the required air.
The tire should be cold before you measure the required pressure. So, if it’s not so urgent, let the car sit for 2-3 hours without any driving before you attempt to inflate it.
Driving makes the tires warm and expanded. So, a tire gauge won’t be able to measure the correct pressure in this condition.
The air valve is covered with a stem screw cap, which needs to be opened before attaching the chuck. Don’t open it until you’re ready to connect the compressor and start pumping.
3. Attach the Hose
Once you have the setup and the tires ready, you’ll need to start setting up the compressor. Locate the regulator valve of your compressor. If it’s a digital compressor, the valve will be marked vividly.
For manual compressors, the regulator valve will be situated next to the pressure gauge. There should be a female plug where you can attach the hose.
If the compressor has air in it, you should feel a slight pushback while plugging the hose in. This is a good sign as it indicates the hose is connected properly.
4. Connect the Hose to the Tire
After you finish connecting the hose, it’s time to connect it with the tire. For this part, you’ll require the tire chuck. Open the stem cap from the air valve of the tire and connect the chuck by pushing the heading on the valve.
On the air connector side of the chuck, connect the nozzle of the hose. Make sure the connections are firm and airtight.
5. Power Up the Compressor and Fill the Air Tank
It’s time to plug the compressor in if you’re using an electric compressor. For gas-based compressors, make sure you have an adequate amount of fuel for the process.
For electrical compressors, make sure you have plugged into an outlet whose voltage output is fitting to your compressor. After plugging in, turn the compressor on and let its air tank fill up to capacity.
6. Inflate the Tire
Once the tank is full, you can start pumping the tire. You’ll know the tank is full when the pressure gauge on the compressor goes to max.
As the regulator slows the pumping down, filling up the tire will take some time. And it will vary based on the flatness of your tire. Don’t leave the compressor unattended while it’s pumping.
Focus on the gauge, as it will help you realize when the tire has reached the recommended pressure. Digital compressors have smart technologies installed that automatically shut themselves off after reaching the set PSI value.
7. Finish the Process
Stop the compressor as the tire reaches its recommended pressure. Don’t let it over-inflate, as it’ll cause more harm than good. After stopping the pumping process, detach the hose and safely unplug the compressor.
And you’re done! See, it wasn’t that hard right? Now you can safely get back on the road again.
What PSI Should I Set My Air Compressor to Fill Tires?
Setting the right PSI value is key for pumping your tires properly. But there’s no general set value that applies for all tires. The most generalized PSI value range of tire pressure is 30-35 PSI.
While this is applicable for many tires, it’s still safer to surely determine what PSI is recommended for your tires. And nothing but your car manual can better help you with that.
If you’ve lost the manual, contacting the dealer is the next best idea. As I said before, don’t use the ingrained PSI on the sidewall of your tire as the compressor setting.
That value is for determining what sized air compressor is the most apposite to your tires. Always get an air compressor that has a of 5-10 unit higher maximum operating PSI value than the ingrained value on the tire.
Why the extra PSI you ask? It expedites the air exchange process. A compressor with equal PSI will also work, just the air exchange will take place slowly.
Tips for Using Air Compressor for Tires
- Try to maintain the optimum pressure of the tire at all times
- Make sure all the additional tools you use, are compatible with the compressor.
- Don’t leave a pumping air compressor unattended.
- Don’t over-inflate or under-inflate your tires.
- For any product-related query, use the product manual.
- Always use the settings recommended by the manufacturer.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you use a portable air compressor to inflate tires?
Portable air compressors are compact and very intuitive which makes them a lot more suitable for home use. You can carry them anywhere you want in the back of the car and easily power them from your car battery.
2. How long will it take me to inflate my tires with an air compressor?
It varies depending on the flatness of the tire. If the tire isn’t completely flat, the overall time required shouldn’t exceed 30 seconds. The regulator slows down the process to prevent overinflation of the tire.
If the tire needs to be inflated at least 5 to 6 PSI value more than the current value, the process will typically take 20-25 seconds. But if your tire is utterly flat, it might take three to five minutes to restore it to the recommended pressure.
Driving a car with a flat tire is dangerous and also costly. Because an underinflated tire wears out much faster while driving. It also causes more fuel consumption.
So, it’s essential that you keep your tire at optimum pressure all the time. Now that you know how to use air compressor for tires properly, I’d encourage you to get an air compressor for your home. It’ll make your life so much easier, believe me.