— A handy little blowhard, By the staff of Dirt Wheels —
We have always kept a small 12-volt compressor along to deal with ATV and UTV tires and for maintaining proper air pressure for best machine performance. Recently, we had to air down our tow vehicle tires to get into a parking spot at the dunes. We dropped the standard pressure of 70 psi down to 25 psi for the sand. When we went to leave, we couldn’t find anywhere to pump the tires up for the road. That was an uncomfortable and worrisome 30 miles towing a toy hauler with truck tires that low. Attempting to add pressure with our little compressor was frustrating. Our solution was to find a permanent place in our tow vehicle for a $64.99 Harbor Freight Tools Pittsburgh-brand, 12-volt, 150-psi, portable compressor.
This portable, high-volume air compressor fills most tires in three minutes or less. It works quickly for quad and UTV tires and the relatively low pressure they require. We have even used it to seat new tires in a pinch. For the large, high-pressure tires on our Ford F250, it takes a little longer, but the important part is that it will work! The same is true of our trailer tires. The rugged, sled-type base prevents contamination from dust and dirt. The compressor produces up to 1.35 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of airflow to fill tires quickly.
For safety, it has overload protection, so if you are handling a big job, like all four truck tires in our case, it will take a while, and you should let it rest between fill-ups. It is obvious that the compressor is designed with large vehicles in mind. The cables must be clipped to the battery terminals of the vehicle. It will not plug into a 12-volt socket. The cord is 11 feet long, and the coiled air hose (with a quick disconnect to the compressor) is 25 feet long. We could easily reach the rear wheels on a crew-cab, long-bed truck.
It comes in a handy bag, but at almost 16 inches long and weighing close to 12 pounds, it does take up a little room. It also has a built-in pressure gauge.
TIPS AND HINTS
The instructions warn that you should turn the compressor on before you attach it to a tire. At low pressure or with a flat tire, that isn’t really necessary, but with car, truck or trailer tires, it will blow the fuse attempting to start against the high pressure. The compressor uses normal spade-type, automotive, 35-amp fuses, and we burned a couple being careless of the instructions. The cord won’t reach the trailer, but on two occasions we attached the cord to the battery of machines on the trailer, and that worked fine. We have used the compressor nearly every time we go out.
Once, we had a bunch of tires to do on the trailer so we looked for a filling station with air, but it worked so poorly that we ended up filling all four with the 12-volt compressor anyway.
Are there times we wish we had a full-size compressor? Sure, but this little unit has been a lifesaver. We punctured a trailer tire, and we were able to save the tire and still get home thanks to this compressor. You can order one online if you don’t have a nearby store at www.harborfreight.com or call (800) 423-2567.