Whether it’s for a holiday or birthday, this Tools Under 30 Dollars Gift Guide Series shows you important, yet somewhat uncommon, tools that any gearhead would want.
Today, let’s talk about Tire Inflators.
A tire inflator is essentially an air chuck and air pressure gauge all wrapped up into a single, handy tool. You simply connect one end to the air hose from your air compressor, and the other to your tire’s Schrader valve. Then you pull the trigger, and as the tire fills with air, the gauge will tell you what PSI it’s at.
In other words, it makes keeping your tires at the proper PSI really, really easy.
And that’s important, as keeping your tires at the correct pressure is critical not only to the life of the tire and fuel economy, but also to the vehicle’s handling and braking performance—which directly correlates to passenger safety.
Tire inflators come in three basic styles.
The one you’ll commonly see at your gas station’s public air line is arguably the most durable. When you pull the inflator’s trigger, an indicator bar will either pop out or be viewed through a window, allowing you to read the hash marks and numbers to determine the PSI.
The second and third tire inflator types tend to be more precise. First, there are traditional analog dial gauges that use a needle sweep to indicate the PSI. Then, there are digital gauges that deliver a numerical readout as you inflate your tires—though these inflators can get pricey as you add more and more features and precision.
Given how vital a good tire inflator is for both the safety and efficiency of a vehicle, it’s a great gift to give and receive. And although tire inflators intended for racers and professional shops can easily surpass the $30 mark, there are still plenty of tire inflators priced for the home mechanic.