Car air compressor - How a tire inflator works and how to use

Car air compressor


About Air compressors:

There is no such thing as an opportune moment for a flat tire, only bad or worse times. It’s bad when you get a flat tire near your home and need to take the time to fill it up or fix it. It’s worse when it’s on the side of a busy highway. But the absolute worst time to get a flat is when you don’t have a temporary patch, your spare tire is also flat, and you’re nowhere near an air compressor. 

Unpreparedness creates more headaches, wastes more time, and costs more money. One way to ensure you always have, at the minimum, a fully inflated spare tire is to keep a MINI CAR AIR COMPRESSOR TIRE INFLATABLE in your car. You can use it to keep your tires at the designated optimum pressure at any time, and you’ll have a backup plan for your spare tire just in case. 


These Mini car air compressor tire inflatables go by many different generalized names, including tire inflator, mini air compressor, and portable air compressor, which can be confusing when considering many people think of air compressors as the large tanks that sit in the corner of a garage. So is it really an air compressor if it doesn’t have a tank? 

To clear up this confusion, the Guides & Gear team decided to “open up” a Mini car air compressor tire inflatable and lay out all of its guts in an easy-to-understand explainer. Let’s begin.

Examining How a Mini car air compressor tire inflatable works

Wired or Wireless Power Source

The most common types of portable tire inflators will plug straight into a wall, plug into the 12V cigarette lighter in your car, or use battery power. Each has its own pros and cons, but the type that plugs into the 12V port is the most universal for drivers. 


The switch, whether in the form of a dial, slider, toggle, trigger, or a button, completes the device’s power circuit and turns the device on by engaging the motor. Essentially, the switch is how you turn the device on and off.

Electric Motor

The internal electric motor is the tire inflator’s powerhouse. The motor’s output shaft is primarily connected to gears that transfer the energy to the piston. In some cases, however, the output shaft is also connected to a fan that spins while the motor is running to cool down the device.


In most tire inflators you’ll have two gears, one attached to the motor and one attached to the piston. When the motor moves, it turns its gear, which is inset with the piston’s gear. So, when the motor moves, the gears make the piston move. In some cases, there might also be a third gear to turn a fan. 

Piston and Cylinder

It’s not exactly the same, but your gas-powered vehicle does share a component type with a tire inflator: a piston. Although the motor drives the mechanism, the piston and the cylinder in which it is housed is where the action happens. 

As the gears turn, the piston is pulled down to bring air into the cylinder through an intake, then pushed up. When the piston goes up, the air is compressed and pushed through the tube that connects to the tire. The piston steadily repeats this cycle to continue compressing and pumping air into the tire.


Most Mini car air compressor tire inflatable will be air-cooled by a small fan built into the device. The placement of the fan will vary, but it is likely next to or near the motor where a majority of the heat is created.


The piston wouldn’t be able to complete its purpose without valves working in tandem. The valve types, whether ball, flap, or other, will vary, but they all serve the same purpose: to get air into the cylinder when needed and prevent air from coming in when not needed.

Pressure Sensor

Your tire inflator might also use a pressure sensor. This can be used for reading the pressure to display it on a digital gauge, and/or they might be used to control a valve for automatic closing. 


The connector, or the tubing at the end of the Mini car air compressor tire inflatable, is what pairs the inflator to the tire, ball, or whatever else needs inflating. It is typically made of rubber and is sometimes covered in a fabric wrap. Many new models offer a variety of tips that pair with the connector to allow for a variety of uses.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published