Best 12-Volt Air Compressor for RVs, Cars, and Trucks in 2023
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
Maintaining proper tire pressure is something you must do to keep your tires healthy.
Nobody wants to have a blowout caused by low tire pressure.
Yet this is exactly what can happen due to improper inflation while cruising at highway speeds.
Repercussions can even be worse if your vehicle is a fully loaded RV or a truck towing a recreational trailer.
A 12-volt air compressor gives you the ability to maintain proper tire air pressure in your RV, SUV, car or truck while on the road.
No more having to find the elusive gas station with a working tire inflation station.
Below, we have reviewed the best 12v air compressors on the market, with explanations to why we chose them as the best.
Read on for the portable air compressor reviews.
Portable Air Compressor Guide
A portable air compressor might seem like a fairly simple device, and really it is.
But there are a few factors to consider when choosing which is the best 12-volt air compressor for your particular situation. As well as things to consider about maintaining proper vehicle tire pressure.
Read our Portable Air Compressor Guide to learn everything you need to know.
12-Volt Air Compressor Reviews
Below you will find the best portable 12v air compressor reviews for a selection of Viair compressors.
We have chosen what we feel are the best portable air compressors for a variety of use cases.
Keep in mind that going with a larger air compressor than what you may currently need only means that you will have room for future 'growth'.
Also, if you find yourself needing to air up larger vehicle tires in the future, you will already be set.
Why Only Viair 12v Air Compressors?
Viair 12v air compressors are some of the best you can buy and are very easy to use.
They have a reputation for being a high quality unit that gives years of reliable service (if you don't abuse them) while inflating your car tires quickly.
Yes, there are many different options out there. Especially on the low end of the pricing spectrum. But you know how the saying goes- you get what you pay for.
Considering several of the Viair models reviewed on this page are well under $100, do yourself a favor and go with what many consider to be the best brand out there of small air compressors available.
There are many factors to consider when shopping for an RV air compressor.
Two key ones are having the ability to quickly inflate larger tires (like motorhomes) and having enough air hose to reach all of your rig's tires. Read the rest of the review for sizing information.
Viair 400P-RV Auto
Viair 450P-RV Auto
Continue Reading Viair 400P-RV & 450P-RV Air Compressor Review
Best 12-Volt Air Compressor for Car, SUV and Truck Tires (up to 31" tires) - Cigarette Adapter
Viair 84P / 85P
If you need the best 12-volt air compressor for car tires, SUV tires and (most) truck tires, the Viair 84P and 85P compressors are excellent choices.
Viair 84P (press-on chuck)
Viair 85P (screw-on chuck)
Continue Reading Viair 84P & 85P 12-Volt Air Compressor Review
Best 12v Air Compressor for Car, SUV and Truck Tires (up to 33" tires) - Battery Clamps
Suitable for most common sizes of car, truck and SUV tire, the Viair 88P is one of the best 12v air compressors you can purchase for most tire inflation purposes.
Continue Reading Viair 88P 12-Volt Portable Air Compressor Review
Best Off-Road Air Compressor (33" and Larger Tires)
Viair 400P Automatic / 450P Automatic
The best off-road air compressor will quickly fill up your vehicle's tires after a day of being out on the trails. While an aired down tire is great for rocky 'goat paths' where you need a softer ride and better traction, when it comes time to head back home, you will need to air back up.
Viair 400P Automatic
Viair 450P Automatic
Continue Reading Viair 400P Automatic & 450P Automatic Air Compressor Review
These Are Tankless Air Compressors
All 12-volt portable air compressor reviews on this page are for tankless models.
This means that they do not use an external storage tank that holds a supply of pressurized air.
Instead, they provide a continuous 'stream' of air while they are on.
This makes for a compact unit that is relatively easy to tuck away for storage.
12v Air Compressor Accessories
Below are a few accessories/additions that are optional but may be of use for your Viair 12v air compressor.
30-Foot Braided, Coiled Air Hose Extension
This hose extension is the same one that comes with the 400P-RV and 450P-RV Automatic air compressors.
If you find that you need even more hose, or wish to extend the reach of your 400P Automatic or 450P Automatic (which only come with a single length of 30-foot air hose), this is your ticket.
This hose is rated for inflation pressures up to 200 psi and has a 1/4 inch stud on one end and a 1/4 inch quick disconnect on the other. Carry bag is included.
6 Foot Air Hose Extension for Viair 85P and 88P
The 85P and 88P come with a twist-on type of air chuck body, which is compatible with this 6-foot hose extension. If you need just a little more reach (or a full person's worth), grab one of these affordable hoses and get to filling your tires.
Digital Tire Inflation Gun
If you don't like reading analog pressure gauges, this inflation gun brings you into the digital age.
The battery operated, 120-psi pressure gauge takes the guess work out of your tire pressure. The backlit gauge has a rubber surround for protection.
The inflation gun works the same as the one that comes standard with the Viair Automatic compressors reviewed on this page.
There is a 12-inch air hose with a press-on style air chuck. Integrated bleeder valve and 1/4 inch quick disconnect stud are there.
Carry bag included.
Replacement Air Filter Elements
The Viair 400P-RV, 450P-RV, 400P Automatic, and 450P Automatic 12v air compressors use an air filter assembly to keep dust and such out of the compressor internals.
You can buy replacement filter elements as a four pack.
12v Air Compressor Usage Precautions
Ouch, That's Hot!
During use, the compressor (and hose quick disconnect couplers, if equipped) WILL get hot, especially the metal components. This is normal.
Don't grab the hot bits with your bare hands. Let the compressor cool before handling.
Don't Kill Your Battery!
When using your Viair 12v air compressor, you MUST run your vehicle's engine.
Why? These 12-volt air compressors draw a high amount of amperage. If you don't run the engine, voltage will drop to a level lower than what the air compressor is happy with.
Also, prolonged use of the air compressor may drain the battery if the vehicle's engine isn't providing a charge. Both situations are no good, so run your vehicle when using your Viair compressor.
Air Pressure Release Warning!
For Viair compressors with detachable air hoses and chucks, always release air pressure from the hose(s) before removing the air chuck (or inflation 'gun') from the hose.
To release pressure, turn off compressor and disconnect the hose from the air compressor, and the chuck from the tire.
Pull trigger on inflation gun until all air pressure has been released. Only at this time is it safe to disassemble the hoses and chuck from one another.
Hopefully by now you should know which is the best 12v air compressor for your needs, depending on what type of passenger vehicle(s) you own and the size of tire you are inflating.
Even the best portable air compressor doesn't cost a small fortune, so you don't have to break the bank to make sure your tires are properly inflated.
Yes, avoiding a low pressure situation is important and having a 12-volt air compressor available makes it very easy to maintain cold tire pressure.
Don't obsess over it, just have a better understanding of your tires as you drive down the road to your next grand adventure.
Get out there and Camp On, Addicts!
Authors: Kelly Beasley & Marshall Wendler
He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona.
Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing from April 2014 - December 2020 (now RVing about 50% of the time), Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle. Marshall spends the majority of his RVing life boondocking. He is the part of Camp Addict that knows 'all the things'. He's good at sharing his technical knowledge so you can benefit.
Viair runs so hot they melt wires or die. Well built, poor engineering.
Thanks for the comment. We’ve never experienced this with our two Viairs.
Which model in particular have you experienced these failures with?
Without putting too fine a point on it, the sun of tire compressors does not rise and set on Viair and reading this article makes me think someone’s receiving a commission from Viair. Be that as it may, to focus on Viair to the exclusion of other brands is a disservice to readers who may take your word as being one that is well informed.
I’ve owned two, 100% duty cycle Viair 400 series dual compressors in 3 years. They were viciously hot, sooo slow, electrically problematic and thoroughly unreliable. Their fittings were cheap with the substandard wiring & connections typical of so much junk from the PRC. There are worse compressors out there but at least they are much cheaper than Viair. The only thing worse than my Viair compressors was getting them to honour their warranty. If you enjoy having your teeth drilled without freezing, you’ll enjoy that Viair experience. Just check out Amazon’s many 1star comments and those on other sites.
Your technical person needs to take a look at ARB compressors if he wants to be of service to his readers. When I finally bit the ‘compressor bullet’ for the third time I wished I’d bought an ARB in the first place. They’re made in Australia where flats are common in the outback and airing tires down and up is an everyday event. You’ll not find a Viair in an offroad or outback vehicle there! If I won a new Viair I’d sell it, put the cash toward a bombproof compressor like ARB.
Thanks for the comment, J.A.C.,
We’ve had the opposite experience with Viair compressors. They’ve been bullet-proof and extremely reliable for us. They fill up our tires in a timely fashion. Zero problems with our two and non of our friends that use them have any complaints.
Having said that, we are always up to exploring alternatives and will do so when it is time to revisit our air compressor pages.