How Are Tire Inflators Different from Air Compressors?

When your car tire runs out of air, you have two accessories to choose from. First, you must either get a tire inflator or an air compressor to fill the tire. Both of them can make your car run again.

However, it’s important to know the difference between the two from a knowledge perspective, especially if you are starting a car accessory business.

So, let’s dive into how tire inflators differ from air compressors.

Difference Between a Tire Inflator and an Air Compressor

Although both tire inflators and air compressors serve the same purpose, the differences lie in the working. Both these accessories are used to fill car tires, kayaks, balls, and other inflatable objects.

Furthermore, these accessories differ in shape and size, which you find in different places like gas stations, car tool kits, and construction sites.

So before you finalize your buying decision, learn the difference between a tire inflator and an air compressor.

Tire Inflator

A tire inflator is a portable accessory that can inflate car, cycle, and motorcycle tires. It’s smaller in size than an air compressor. You can easily keep it with your car tool kit.

Moreover, it’s becoming a need of today’s car owners and drivers because of increasing service charges at automobile stations.

People now prefer keeping their tire inflators and saving money instead of going to a gas station.

These inflators are now available in the local automobile, auto-parts, hardware, and departmental stores. Moreover, you can order portable tire inflators from the Chinese manufacturer at the lowest possible rates for your business.

There are two general types of a tire inflators:

  • Cordless – These are modern inflators that run on batteries. You don’t have to connect wires to the car’s lighter socket. Just turn the switch on and start filling the car tire. Besides, you can find a detachable wire with a cordless inflator if the battery dies.
  • Wired – The wired inflators need a power source (your car’s battery, for instance) to work. They come with a wire which you must connect to the power source to make this thing work.

The cordless inflators are pricier than the wired ones because of the modern technology and ease of use.

Working of a Tire Inflator

There’s a huge difference in the working of a tire inflator and an air compressor. So first, we’ll discuss the working of a tire inflator.

It consists of the following parts:

  • Switch
  • Motor
  • Gears
  • Cylinder and piston
  • Valve
  • Pressure sensor
  • Inflator tube


First, you must connect the cable to the power source if it’s wired. Then, ensure the output voltage is 12V, the most common power setting for tire inflators.

Now, turn on the switch to power the electric motor.


The motor is the main electric component of the portable inflator. It gives power to the gears that are connected to the piston.

The shaft of the motor connects to the gearing system of the inflator.

If the inflator doesn’t work properly, check the electric motor as it usually gets overheated and stops revolving the shaft.


There are two or three gears inside a tire inflator. One connects to the motor’s shaft, and the other connects to the piston.

In some other models, a third gear moves the fan to keep the accessory cool down.

Cylinder and Piston

A piston resides inside the cylinder. The piston starts working when the motor moves the gears. Moreover, the pumping activity of the inflator depends on the piston.


A valve keeps the piston’s movement intact by keeping the air passage locked when not needed and vice versa.

Pressure Sensor

There’s a pressure sensor attached to the tire inflator. It can either be analog or digital, depending on the model.

The modern tire inflator comes with a digital pressure sensor. The sensor can automatically turn off the motor once the pressure reaches a certain threshold, saving the tire inflator from overheating.

Inflator Tube

A tube connects to the inflator and the tire’s nozzle to fill the air.

Air Compressor

An air compressor is a useful accessory for automobile, construction, and relevant service-providing industries. It’s a high-power machine that can power other air tools like pneumatic nail guns and hammers.

You can find air compressors at mechanic shops and automobile service stations. People usually keep an air compressor for commercial purposes due to its heavy-duty performance.

Unlike tire inflators, air compressors can also fill bigger vehicles’ tires.

Working on an Air Compressor

An air compressor is bigger than a tire inflator because of its tank or container to store air. It first stores the air inside the tank and compresses it. That builds the pressure inside the tank, and you can use this pressurized air for sandblasting, propelling, and air hammering.

There are two ways the air compressor works::

  • Positive displacement
  • Dynamic displacement

We’ll go through each method one by one.

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M3669 car air pump for inflatables

Positive Displacement Air Compression

The compressor forces the air into the container, reducing its volume for compression.

The positive displacement air compressors are used for applications like heavy construction or DIY projects.

Following are the three air compressors that work on positive displacement:

  1. Rotary screw
  2. Rotary vane
  3. Piston

Dynamic Displacement

A set of rotating blades is used to create airflow. Then, the air enters into a container where it’s pressurized for the compressor. As a result, the compressor gets the required kinetic energy.

The dynamic displacement air compressors are suitable for large-scale projects. Mainly, there are two types of this air compression:

  1. Axial – Stationary blades which build slow airflow. You can see them in aircraft engines.
  2. Centrifugal – An impeller brings air into the center. The centrifugal force then pushes the air outwards.

You might not need such heavy-duty air compressors to fill the car tires. However, knowing which accessory is best for the very purpose is important.

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As you have seen how tire inflators and air compressors differ from each other, it’s now become easy to decide which accessory to invest in. Therefore, check the customized manufacturing of portable tire inflators by Best Avehicle.

You can also learn more technical details from their experts, who are available 24/7 for online consultancy.


Hi,I am May, I have been in this car accessories industry in 5 years and I will share you the most valuable information.The purpose of this article is to share with your knowledges related from a Chinese Supplier's Perspective.


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