An on-board air compressor system can be a very comforting accessory.

It can pump up your tires, run air tools, and keep your friends’ tires up as well. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find a good location—or enough space at all—for your air compressors and an air tank. That’s why we opted for the VIAIR 480C Dual Performance Value Pack air system for our Jeep JK Unlimited.

Featuring a dual-compressor setup, the 480C Dual Performance Value Pack system features two 480C air compressors and delivers up to 20o psi. The system takes up less space than typical air compressor/air tank setups and works like a mule, even without the help of a space-consuming air tank. It comes with all the necessary pressure sensors, air lines, fittings, and hardware.

We installed one of the VIAIR 480C Dual Performance Value Pack systems in our JK Unlimited. Our installation went well, but we also opted to custom-build a manifold to accommodate a 2-Way air system, which we added at a later date. This 2-Way Air system allows you to pre-plumb your vehicle with air tubing to each corner, at which Schrader valves are located for simultaneously filling all four tires.

One other note before you check out our install photos: We opted to run a separate hose from the engine’s air filter box to ensure the compressors get all the clean air they need. The kit actually comes with small air filters, which can be mounted with the compressors below the front bumper, but we felt they would’ve been difficult to change at this location.

man working on a winch mount for a jeep wrangler jk
cutting a steel plate for an air compressor mount
jeep wrangler jk with front bumper removed
air hoses and clamps on a work table
a pair of electrical relays for an on board air compressor system
man holding a pair of air pressure switches
air compressors getting installed on a jeep wrangler bumper mount
welding mounting fasteners onto an air compressor
air compressors mounted on front of a jeep wrangler jk
pipe fitting installed in an engine airbox
tightening a heater hose clamp on an engine
man wrapping teflon tape around compressed air hose fittings
connecting fittings within a vehicle on board compressed air system
relays mounted for a vehicle on board compressed air system
man installing a winch and bumper onto a jeep wrangler jk
rocker switch for a vehicle air compressor system
rocker switch for an on board air system
on board air compressor manifold

Once we determined that there was sufficient room behind the Bestop front bumper for the VIAIR dual compressor set-up, we had to remove the winch and front bumper.

Using a square and a plasma cutter, we cut out a steel plate on which we mounted the air compressors.

VIAIR says that the compressors can be mounted at any angle except upside down. If mounted upside down they do not cool efficiently. No problem here--both compressors fit on the steel plate just above the Blue Ox base plate for my tow bar.

I had to buy a few extras that weren’t included in the VIAIR kit because of how we were going to supply clean air.

In the VIAIR kit were these two relays, which work with the two pressure switches to control the air compressors. As mentioned in the intro, the filter was not used in my installation.

These two pressure switches—one for each compressor—send the electrical signal to the relays to shut off the compressors when the proper pressure is reached.

One last check to make sure everything was ready for the final installation.

After bolting both compressors to the plate, we tack-welded their fasteners to the plate to ease bolt removal if changing a compressor should become necessary in the future.

The plate is bolted into place and it’s time to route the air lines.

We drilled, threaded, and sealed a pipe fitting into the engine side of the air filter.

In lieu of the filters included with the kit, we connected a ½-inch heater hose to the air box and then routed it down to the compressors.

We used plumbers Teflon tape on all the threads on the input-side fittings.

We connected the heater hose to a T-fitting, which was connected to the two inlet hoses on the compressors.

We mounted both relays on the Jeep’s fuse box lid, which cleared on the fuses and circuit breakers on the inside and the hood insulation on the outside.

The bumper and winch are reinstalled in order to complete the installation.

I mounted the compressors’ master switch on the front bumper.

We used a covered safety switch for the master switch so it couldn’t be accidently turned on by brush while I’m out on the trails.

We built the manifold and bolted it to the front bumper also.

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Author: Jim Brightly

A former editor of Truckin’ and Trailer Life magazines, and tech editor of Four Wheeler, Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road, and Family Motor Coaching magazines, Jim Brightly is now a semi-retired photojournalist living, writing, and wheeling in northern Arizona. He’s been building and wheeling Jeeps for more than fifty years.