The 10 Best Inflators
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in June of 2015. When you keep one of these handy electric inflators around, you won't have to worry about getting stuck on the side of the road with a flat again. Many of our options are equipped with extra-long hoses and powerful motors designed to quickly fill each tire on your car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle. Some also come with adapters for inflating air mattresses, pool toys, rafts, and even sports equipment. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best inflator on Amazon.
Benefits Of An Inflator
Keeping an inflator on hand will help drivers boost their PSI to proper levels on the go without the help of a professional mechanic.
Fortunately, most inflators run on 12-volt batteries that draw power from a vehicle's DC port.
Maintaining proper air pressure in one's tires is crucial for getting the most miles per gallon out of a gas tank. In fact, experts say that for every pound drop in a tire's pounds per square inch (PSI) of air pressure, the mileage of the car goes down by 0.4 percent. Keeping an inflator on hand will help drivers boost their PSI to proper levels on the go without the help of a professional mechanic. Inflators are designed to fit in most vehicles without taking up too much space. Some weigh as little as six pounds, so anybody can lift and move them as needed.
When someone is driving on a leaky tire and doesn't have time to patch up the hole, or isn't near a mechanic, he or she needs to add air frequently. Fortunately, most inflators run on 12-volt batteries that draw power from a vehicle's DC port. They are also designed to recharge in just a few hours when they're plugged into an AC power supply. Depending on the maximum PSI produced, some inflators can even fill up oversized truck tires. They are also great for active people who spend their weekends hiking or camping.
Some inflators come with nozzle adapters, allowing one to put air in car tires, bicycle tires, and even basketballs. Good samaritans who want to help people on the side of the road with deflated tires should get an inflator with an extra-long reach so it can connect between the two cars.
There are several important safety tips for driving after dark that prevent accidents, but in the unfortunate event that an accident does occur, having an inflator with reflectors is handy. This makes it easier to alert other motorists to your presence when you're on the side of the road.
How To Avoid A Flat Tire
An inflator is an important part of any fix-it kit for drivers who like to patch up their own tires. But the ideal situation is to reduce the possibility of a flat tire in the first place. It's a good idea to visually check one's tires about once a week to catch any slow leaks. Not all flat tires come from nails on the road; some result from a tire that was leaking for a long time, and couldn't handle a sudden 200-mile road trip. That being said, sharp items like nails in the road are one of the top causes of flat tires, which is why drivers should avoid taking their vehicles down torn up alleys where people tend to dump construction items.
It's a good idea to visually check one's tires about once a week to catch any slow leaks.
There's one cause of flat tires that has nothing to do with driver error and that's vandalism. Anyone from an angry ex-employee to a mischievous teenager might slash a person's tire, so drivers should always park their cars in well-lit areas, preferably where they can keep an eye on them. When a tire becomes worn out in one area, this also causes it to tear open. So, in addition to regularly checking air pressure, drivers should also check to make sure their tires are wearing out evenly.
Making lots of fast stops and starts are some of the main reasons tires wear out. For this reason, drivers should always accelerate and come to a stop slowly. Unfortunately, even the best drivers can't compensate for a bad tire tread, so when purchasing tires, buyers should look for ones that have an extra thick tread and that's puncture resistant.
Safety Tips If You're Stranded On The Highway
Most people associate car accidents with moving cars, but even those at a complete stop are at risk of a collision. Being stranded on the side of a highway is very dangerous; cars are speeding by at 60 or 70 miles per hour, sometimes only a few feet away. Everyone should keep reflectors in their trunk in case they're ever stranded at night, so other cars can see them. They should turn on their emergency flashers, too. Depending on the emergency flasher laws in one's state, they may be allowed to drive with flashers on, while still seeking a safe place to pull over.
If a driver doesn't feel safe when broken down in a particular area, they should stay in their car with their windows rolled up and their doors locked.
Driving through long stretches of highway with very few off ramps can be especially dangerous. People should take note of the name of the last exit, so they can explain their location when they call for assistance. If a driver doesn't feel safe when broken down in a particular area, they should stay in their car with their windows rolled up and their doors locked. Should anyone suspicious approach the car while they're stranded, they should repeatedly honk their horn and flash their lights to catch the attention of passing vehicles.
People exiting their vehicle should always get out on the side away from passing traffic. People should never stand directly behind or in front of their car, especially at night, since other cars might run into it. If possible, people should drive their car very slowly to a large shoulder, or off the highway entirely. Even on a flat tire, a vehicle can still move a short distance at a slow speed.
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