The best digital tyre inflators

What do you gain in a digital tyre inflator compared to an analogue one other than an LCD screen? CAR looks into this.

best digital tyre inflators

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

Digital tyre inflators are probably amongst the most required things to keep in your car's boot. We like to think that, as car enthusiasts, you know about the care and maintenance of your car. But there are people who claim to be music fans but mostly listen to pop, so perhaps this isn't necessarily the case.

Along with jump starters, a tyre inflator is the most important piece of car-related equipment you should have because tyres, in case you forgot, are the vital piece of contact between your car and the road and therefore ought to be maintained.

Why do we need digital tyre inflators?

A tyre having enough tread (minimum 1.6mm) is one important thing, but the correct tyre pressure is another. Tyres lose air over time in the same way they lose tread, except the difference is that replacing the air in a tyre is much simpler and cheaper than replacing the tread.

Under-inflated tyres increase the resistance between the tyre and the road. Go figure, that increases fuel consumption (or battery charge if you own an EV). It also causes uneven wear on tyre tread, and have detrimental effects on handling and braking.

Analogue vs digital tyre inflators

Other than the substitution of an LCD screen for an analogue one, there are some differences between the two types of tyre inflator.

The digital tyre inflators usually bear extra features. An important one is auto-shutoff, which automatically kills the injection of air once the tyre reaches a pre-set pressure. It's important to note that some analogue models have this function too, but it's less common.

Some digital tyre inflators also take on the role of doubling up as a power bank, just like some portable jump starters do.

Apart from that, the analogue and digital tyre inflators are pretty similar, though because of the extra features, digital tyres usually carry a higher price tag than their analogue counterparts.

If the extra features offered by a digital tyre inflator appeal to you, see our recommendations below. We suggest you steer well clear of models from unfathomable or unheard of brands and stick to those that are from established, reputable manufacturers because they are made properly.

If, on the other hand, you want a simple, reliable tyre inflator without bells and whistles, we suggest the affordable and honest RAC610 from Ring Automotive.

The best digital tyre inflators

Editor's pick

The RTC6000 serves as two things at once: a tyre inflator and a power bank. As such, it's cordless and battery-powered rather than the usual setup of requiring a 12V cable and socket for power. The battery-powered nature of the RTC6000 makes it a bit bigger and heavier than some 12V tyre inflators, but it still weighs less than two kilograms. To recharge the RTC6000, you get a mains charger and a 12V cable u2013 your choice. The inclusion of latex gloves is a little suspicious, though. Time to...snaps glove...check your tyres.

There’s lots of power here – with 180 Watts of power it can fully inflate a 13-inch tyre from 0 to 35psi in two minutes. Another reason we like this tyre inflator is because of its build quality, which provides a significant ROI on its own. You can use this inflator for any job too because it comes with 10 adaptors, plus four spare valve caps.

Pros Cons
• Cordless • A bit pricey
• Well made • More compact options available
• Also a power bank
• Powerful
• Many adaptors

Best compact digital tyre inflator

Worx produces power tools and garden tools aimed at domestic use and light trade use with warranties to reflect that. Like other power tool brands such as Ryobi and Bosch, Worx produces a big range of tools powered by its own 18V batteries. Being part of the Worx 18V PowerShare family this sub-one kilo inflator has plenty of punch and still features the auto-shutoff function.

The performance of the WX092 is hard to fault, but you do need to invest in the Worx PowerShare infrastructure if you want to use it, which can be expensive. Also, it doesn’t double as a power bank, but Worx does make a USB adaptor that turns its batteries into a power bank of sorts. We have done an in-depth review of this inflator, which you can read about here.

Pros Cons
• Cordless • Not a power bank
• Powerful for size • Only two adaptors included
• Auto shutoff
• Compact

Best digital tyre inflator for large wheels
Sealey MAC05D 12V Digital Heavy-Duty Tyre Inflator
Price: $224.60

Where the Ring RTC6000 is a versatile, multi-purpose model, this larger unit is more focused on re-inflating those bigger tyres seen on 4X4s, campervans, and the like. It's a corded 12V model, so it needs to be plugged in to use. It'll inflate a big 13-inch tyre from flat in less than two minutes.

The digital screen is accurate and easy to read, even in low light. And of course there is the auto-shutoff function. Because it’s got lot of power, the Sealey tyre inflator doesn’t have to work too hard and so you can expect a long life from this unit. Though intended for larger vehicle tyres, the MAC05D still comes with adaptors for other jobs.

Pros Cons
• Ideal for large tyres • Relatively bulky
• Powerful • A tad pricey for casual users
• Auto shutoff
• Well made

Best for topping up and smaller tasks
Ring RTC2000 Cordless Handheld Tyre Inflator
Price: $42.55

The little Ring RTC2000 is a versatile little tool. Like the bigger RTC6000, it's also a power bank so you can charge devices while on the move. It's the least powerful of all the inflators here, it won't do full tyre inflation. However, it's perfectly capable of top ups and handling smaller jobs like bike tyres.

The build quality is top-notch, as one would expect from Ring. Being super compact is another very handy trait.

Pros Cons
• Highly versatile • Not that powerful
• Very compact
• Also a power bank
• Well made

Best budget option

The AA Digital Tyre inflator is smaller and lighter than the cordless Ring RTC6000, largely because this is a 12V inflator without a battery. While it does without the bells and whistles of the RTC6000, you won't find a better digital tyre inflator at this price. This tyre inflator bears the two crucial features of a budget tyre inflator: dependable build quality and an auto-shutoff function.

There are even a couple of bonus features such as an LED light that can flash SOS should an emergency require it. It comes with two adaptors.

Pros Cons
• Great value • Not that powerful
• Well made • Only two adaptors included
• Auto shutoff
• Compact

Best for Ryobi owners

Ryobi's 18V ONE+ system is so popular with UK DIYers that id'd be handy if there was a good digital tyre inflator to cater for them. And there is. Even with a battery fitted, this weighs less than two kilograms. Despite the lightness, the Ryobi inflator feels chunky and solid.

Like the Ring RTC6000, it’s meant as a versatile model, and therefore comes with all the adaptors you need for inflating most things. However, where the RTC6000 doubles as a power bank, the Ryobi inflator can instead deflate as well – a unique feature here. Though, when inflating, it does have the auto-shutoff function. It also comes with an enviable three-year warranty.

Pros Cons
• Inflate and deflate • Pricey
• Cordless • Uses Ryobi batteries only
• 3-year warranty
• Many nozzles

For verdicts, scoops, news and analysis from the team , delivered direct to your inbox, subscribe to the CAR newsletter.

You can enjoy CAR in its traditional print format, or one of the swelling number of digital editions, optimised for Apple iPhones, Android devices, iPads, tablets and desktop computers.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us