Can You Use an Air Compressor to Inflate Car Tires?

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Since the introduction of vehicles for personal use in the 20th Century, they have been an integral part of human transportation. However, certain mishaps come with the use of vehicles such as having low tire pressure or a flat tire. 

Luckily, there are devices that you can use to mitigate this situation. In this article, we aim to answer the question, can you use an air compressor to inflate car tires?

Can You Use an Air Compressor to Inflate Car Tires?

Yes, should you find yourself in a situation with a flat tire, you can use an air compressor to inflate your car tires. Low tire pressure tends to be a hindrance to proper vehicle handling. Inflating your tires by using an air compressor is not a technical task, provided you follow the correct procedure. Below we will discuss the steps you need to take when inflating your car tires.

How to Inflate Your Car With an Air Compressor

Should you have the misfortune of experiencing a flat tire or general low pressure, you can use an air compressor to remedy the situation. We aim to inform you of the general steps you can to inflate your car using an air compressor while providing you with comprehensive knowledge. The following steps below should help you inflate your car tires:

A car with a flat tire

Know Your Car’s Characteristics

Prior knowledge of your car’s properties helps you prepare for any repairs or adjustments should you encounter any mishaps. This knowledge may encompass the general traits below:

Tire Pressure

Before inflating your tires, you should know the recommended amount of pressure that your vehicle needs for optimum performance. The most common air pressure metric used for vehicles is pounds per square inch (PSI). Though modern vehicles usually require around 30-35 PSI, we recommend that you consult the owner’s manual from your vehicle manufacturer for the correct tire pressure.

We also implore you to not use the PSI number etched on your tires’ sidewalls. This PSI metric might mislead you as it is used to show the maximum air pressure that your tires can endure. Using this measurement might expose you and your vehicle to blowout and potential injury. 

Since 2008, most vehicles have been equipped with a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This system warns a driver of tire pressure dropping to levels less than 25 percent of the recommended pound per square inch. However, this level of underinflation is as severe as it can hamper normal vehicle use.

You can measure your car tires’ pressure levels through the following method:

  1. Park your vehicle at a safe location
  2. Remove the tire valve and place it at a safe and memorable place
  3. Press the tire gauge firmly onto the valve stem, ensuring there’s no air leakage
  4. Take the reading on whatever display is available
  5. Repeat the process 2-3 times to increase the accuracy of your findings

Inflating your tires with less air than is recommended tends to harm your vehicle. Cars running on insufficient air pressure tend to build up heat from the car tires’ sidewalls flexing more than usual. This heat can cause a blowout due to some of the rubber separating from the carcass of the tire, leading to loss of vehicular control.

Temperature

Most car manufacturers tend to measure vehicles’ air pressure measurement in cooler temperatures. The preference towards cooler temperatures comes from the habit of car tires expanding in hotter weather. This expansion causes a higher PSI reading than normal providing a challenge when measuring air pressure levels and inflating your car tires. 

We recommend that you wait for more than 30 minutes before filling your tire. However, should that be untenable, you should add 2-3 more pounds per square inch of pressure while the tire is still hot.

Prepare the Tires

Place the air compressor near a tire for ease of access. Remove the stem cap located on the top of the valve stem while ensuring the safety of the stem cap. You should not remove the cap unless you’re planning to use the compressor. The reason for such prudence is to prevent the unnecessary escape of air from the tires.

A small air compressor used to inflate tires

Use the Air Compressor

An average air compressor uses electric power as its power source. You should power the air compressor on and let it accumulate air for your use. You should take note of the air compressor’s voltage as using too much voltage can short its circuit, risking damage to the air compressor. Using low voltage, on the other hand, might not power on the air compressor at all.

From there, you should follow these general steps:

  1. Place the air compressor as near to the flat tire as possible.
  2. Attach the air hose and quick coupler to the air compressor.
  3. Activate any safety mechanism on the hose’s nozzle.
  4. Press the hose to the valve stem and turn on the machine.
  5. Depending on the type of machine you are using, you might need to manually pump in air. With the use of automatic air compressors, you might only need to enter the needed PSI. Once it is finished, it will notify you through a beep.
  6. Should you add too much air, simply release some air by pressing the pin inside the valve stem with the air hose nozzle.
  7. Continue onto the remaining tires, ensuring they are at the proper PSI.
  8. Return the hose to the air compressor and re-screw the valve caps onto the valves.

The time your air compressor might take filling up the tire depends on its capacity and how much air was already contained in the tire already. Regardless of the type of air pump, you are using, do not step away and go do other things. This measure prevents excess air from entering the tires.

Conclusion

Low tire pressure and flat tires pose huge disadvantages to you. These disadvantages range from adverse effects on vehicle handling to the risk of encountering an accident. However, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

You can use an air compressor to inflate your car tires. We hope the steps we have discussed, from checking your tire pressure and PSI level to inflating your tires, help you in your time of need.