best air compressor for rv tires

The 5 Best RV Air Compressors For The Money in 2022

Something as uninteresting and unassuming as the tires on your vehicle might be more important than you would think. Both under-inflated and over-inflated tires will result in uneven tread wear and thus premature replacement, will negatively affect handling and fuel economy.

For optimal handling, mileage and tire lifespan, you will need the best RV air compressor to ensure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure level as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. This is especially important in the case of a recreational vehicle, since the tires have to bear a tremendous amount of weight.

And buying something as seemingly simple as a tire inflator can still be quite overwhelming, due to the vast amount of brands and products, and the many different types of RV tire air compressor. But worry not, as there is something for every RV owner in this in-depth review of the 5 best RV air compressor units on the market in terms of value for money. You will also learn about various types of RV air compressor, what each type is best suited for, crucial buying criteria, and how to use an air compressor to check and inflate your tires properly.

Best RV Tire Air Compressors Comparison Chart

NoBest RV Air CompressorsPricesOur Ratings
1Viair 400P – 40047 RV$$$$$*****
2Asani 12V 150 PSI$****
3GSPSCN Silver 12V 150PSI$****
4PORTER-CABLE CMB15 Hand Carry$$$*****
5TIREWELL Heavy Duty 12V 150PSI$***

Camper Air Compressor: Why You Need One

Why Both Underinflated and Overinflated Tires Are Bad

Tire pressure is measured in PSI. For each vehicle, the tire pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer is intended to achieve an ideal balance of tire wear, handling and fuel economy. This is why you should try to make sure your tire pressure is maintained at that optimal level. Failure to do so means you’ll risk compromising your driving experience and safety, or you might have to replace your expensive RV tires prematurely due to uneven tread wear. 

best air compressor for rv tires
Photo: MotorTrend

Both underinflated and overinflated tires will hurt fuel efficiency and cause uneven tread wear. as well as having negative impacts on your handling and braking, thus compromising your road safety: 

  • Under-inflated tires: Soft tires will “spread” on the road surface more. A larger contact area with the road means more traction, which slows down your vehicle. In other words, the engine will need to work extra hard to maintain the desired speed and will use up more fuel than usual. Increased contacts with the road and more traction also make the tires wear faster. In addition, this will produce excess heat as you drive, and all in all, your tires will fail prematurely, which is not cheap to replace. It is estimated that for every 3 PSI below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, your tires will wear 10 percent faster and your vehicle is using 1 percent more fuel. And note that tires will lose air over time even if you don’t have a puncture.
  • Over-inflated tires: The above does not mean you should just over-inflate your tires to prevent pressure loss, as over-inflated tires are not any less problematic. Stiff tires will make for an extra rough ride on bumpy roads, as they don’t have the cushioning impact of a softer tire and thus will amplify the physical impact of every bump. For this reason, over-inflated tires are more easily damaged by potholes.

When you’re traveling in your RV, especially if you like to camp off the beaten path, you won’t have easy access to the free air compressor at gas stations and Costco. It’s more convenient, actually essential, to get the best portable RV air compressor for just less than $200, so that you can routinely check your tire pressure and inflate them as needed. In the long run, you will save money on premature tire replacement as well as fuel, plus you’ll get to enjoy smoother, safer rides on the open road. A good air compressor for tires will not break the bank, and the savings will pay for itself in no time.

Do Not Confuse Tire Air Compressors with Air Pumps and TPMS

Now if you already have an air pump for inflating air mattress, do not think that it can work for your RV tires or the tires on your car. An air pump simply sucks in atmospheric air and transports it into your air mattress or balloons without any pressurization. Meanwhile, a tire air compressor converts the electrical energy it is supplied with into kinetic energy and stores it as pressurized air. Pressurized air can quickly fill what usually requires a lot of air in a short amount of time, like tires and gas cylinders, and for this reason is sufficient for powering tools like jackhammers.

In addition, a tire air compressor for cars, trucks and RVs should not be confused with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which comes with many recent vehicles. These systems do not inflate tires but only flash a warning signal on your dashboard to notify you that the PSI in any tire is 25 percent below the manufacturer’s recommended level. 

So by the time you get the warning, you’re already fallen victim to unsafe handling, low mileage and excessive tread wear. Therefore, do not rely on a TPMS to tell you it’s time to inflate a tire. Any responsible RV owner will check their tire pressure regularly. 

Another Handy Use For Air Compressors

Many don’t know this, but an air compressor can come in extremely handy when you’re winterizing your RV. Most campers typically add antifreeze to their water lines to prevent them from freezing over, but that means you will need to get rid of it once winter is over. If you don’t want to go that route, using your tire air compressor to flush water out of your waterline is an effective way to protect your water lines in freezing weather.

Types of Tire Inflator For RVs

Analog vs Digital Air Compressors

In any case, the best RV air compressor is usually a digital model. A digital air compressor comes with a built-in digital gauge that gives you the exact PSI reading of your tire on the display screen, for instance “32”. Digital air compressors are more expensive, but I think they are totally worth it, and the best RV air compressor should not cost you more than $300 anyway. 

Meanwhile, an analog air compressor comes with a round clock-style face with markings, and it will take you a few seconds to make out the result. The best RV air compressor in the analog category must have a large enough face and easy to read markings so that you won’t have to squint your eyes every time.

Single Cylinder vs Dual Cylinder Air Compressors

A dual cylinder or twin cylinder air compressor has two cylinders of equal size that work in parallel to double the volume of the output air, so that you can inflate more air into your tires in a short amount of time compared to when using a single cylinder air compressor. As you might expect, dual cylinder air compressors are more expensive than their single cylinder counterparts.

Do note that an average dual cylinder air compressor typically has a maximum capacity in the range of 90 PSI to 120 PSI, while the recommended tire pressure for most recreational vehicles is below 85 PSI, so in most cases you can make do with a single cylinder air compressor. 

Other than analog versus digital and single versus dual cylinder, air compressors for tires are also categorized as follows:

12 Volt DC Air Compressors vs AC Air Compressors

12-volt air compressors operate on direct current (DC) and can be connected directly to your vehicle’s built-in 12-volt cigarette lighter. Although they are not as powerful as air compressors that operate on alternating current (AC), they are very convenient and much more compact and lightweight. If you need a bit more power, the best 12 volt air compressor that can inflate your RV tires more quickly typically hooks up to your car’s battery using alligator clips. 

Despite lacking in power, 12 volt tire air compressors are still affordable and sensible options if you travel full-time or go on long trips at a time when you won’t have easy access to a standard alternating-current power outlet. Even if you don’t travel off the beaten path, having the best 12 volt air compressor on hand will also save you trips to gas stations on the way. And while most gas stations will have an air compressor, some stations might charge you for it. 

Meanwhile, if your RV has the space and available load to haul a bigger, heavier and more powerful AC-operated air compressor, you will be able to inflate your tires quickly, just for a higher price tag.

Air Compressors by Portability

Hand-Carry Air Compressors

As the name suggests, hand-carry air compressors are lightweight and compact enough that you can carry them by hand, so it’s easy to take them out from their storage compartment to take care of your tires and store them away when you’re done. They also won’t take up a lot of room and load, so in terms of portability, they are the best RV air compressor for small rigs.

Due to their compact size, it is expected that this type of air compressor is not as powerful as the other bulkier types, but they are sufficient for inflating truck and RV tires. They are also ideal for other light-duty applications, like inflating balls and air mattresses. Most handy carry tire inflators on the market are electrically powered, with only a minority that runs on gasoline. This type does offer options in terms of maximum pressure (PSI) and airflow rate (CFM), two crucial specifications that will be explained further below. 

Wheeled Air Compressors

Like the handy carry type, wheeled air compressors also run on either electric or gasoline. The difference is while they are also portable and ideal for camping use, they are much heavier, thus they are put on wheels so that you can push and drag them to where you need them. They are bigger, so you can expect them to be more powerful and get the job done faster. Wheeled air compressor can have either a vertical or horizontal tank. 

Mobile or Tow-Behind Air Compressors

This type of air compressors are the most bulky but also the most powerful, and are designed to inflate tires and power air tools on the go. They are much less portable than the other two types, but they are typically mounted to or towed behind a truck, so they are still mobile, that is as mobile as the vehicle they’re attached to. This is why mobile air compressors are also called tow behind air compressors. This type offers a wide variety, with each sub-category offering unique features and applications. In addition to some RV applications, These heavy duty compressors are often used with construction trucks. 

The 5 Best RV Air Compressor: In-Depth Reviews

The best air compressor for RV tires is not necessarily the most powerful and expensive one. Based on your camping circumstances, you might need to make compromises, for instance if you own a small rig with little available space and load, you might need to make do with an air compressor that’s lightweight and compact, and just powerful enough to get the job done. Or if you’re on a budget, you might need to opt for a cheaper analog model instead of a handier digital model.

Regardless, you will find something in this list, from the most powerful air compressor to more affordable and portable units. These are the most well rounded and durable RV air compressors that should be functional and easy to use in most average camping settings complied and tested by RVing Trends.


1. Viair 400P – 40047 RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit

Viair 400P - 40047 RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit
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At a glance:

  • Capacity: 150 PSI
  • Flow rate: 2.3 CFM
  • Duty cycle: 33%, or 20 minutes continuously at 100 PSI
  • Voltage: 12 volt
  • Power source: Battery
  • Hose length: 60 ft (two 30-feet coiled hoses)
  • Weight: 10.75 lbs

Why we love it:

If you want a 12 volt air compressor that is both convenient and powerful, this Viair 400P model is more than sufficient for inflating most RV tires quickly and also give you the flexibility to power some hobby tools should you choose to, with a decent capacity of 150 PSI and a flow rate of 2.3 CFM. Operated on 12 volt power, this portable air compressor can be hooked to your house battery or connected to your cigarette lighter socket. One of the reasons why this model receives a near perfect 4.8 stars rating on Amazon is that it can get the job done without draining your battery. 

Available for almost $400, it surely is on the expensive side, but if you’re camping full time and are willing to pay extra for a reliable, durable and convenient unit with user-friendly features, the Viair 400P will be the best RV air compressor for a variety of camping settings. 

The kit comes with a sturdy storage case, quality battery clamps, an 8 feet power cord and a 30 feet coiled air hose as well as another 30 feet extension hose, which is more than enough to access all four wheels with ease without having to move the unit around. Also included is a 45 degree chuck and a 90 degree twist on chuck for easy access to rear dual tires, where it is hard to get to the inner tire’s valve stem. Safety functions include automatic shut-off and heat-shielded coupling to avoid overheating/burning, and vibration-resistant sand tray.

The only downside of this unit is its price tag, and for some campers, it might be the 33% duty cycle. That said, this duty cycle can still inflate your tires at 100 PSI for 20 minutes continuously. Depending on your tire’s recommended PSI, you might or might not need to let this compressor cool down during operation before you can inflate all four tires. Also note that for this price, you’re still getting a dial gauge, in case you’re expecting a fuss-free digital display that will tell you the exact PSI reading.

Pros:

  • Both capacity and flow rate sufficient for inflating tires of most RVs
  • Duty cycle also sufficient without having to cool down
  • Long extension hose
  • Kit comes with special attachments for easy access to rear dually tires where it is hard to get to the inner tire’s valve stem
  • Safety features
  • Sturdy storage case

Cons:

  • Expensive

2. Asani 12V 150 PSI Double Cylinder Air Compressor for RV Tires

Portable Double Cylinder Air Compressor Tire Inflator with LED Flashlight
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At a glance:

  • Capacity: 150 PSI
  • Flow rate: 2.47 CFM or 70L per minute
  • Voltage: 12 volt
  • Power source: Battery
  • Hose length: 11.5 ft
  • Weight: 6.82 lbs

Why we love it:

For only $50, it’s really hard to get better value for money than what this 12 volt air compressor from Asani offers. It is one of the most compact and lightweight units out there, weighing in at just under 7 pounds, and it can be connected to your cigarette lighter socket or your RV’s house battery, so it is highly portable and convenient. What sets it apart from competitors is its unmatched flow rate of 2.47 CFM or an equivalent of 70L per minute, which allows it to inflate a severely soft tire on a passenger car up to specs in under 2 minutes. For large trucks and RVs, it will surely take longer, at under 5 minutes per tire, but that’s still super impressive, especially for such a compact air compressor operated on 12 volt DC current.

A huge perk is that this unit is conveniently fitted with an LED light on the side for bright illumination in low light conditions. Another praise worthy feature is the extra rugged all metal construction, as well as a pure copper connector that never rusts, and rubber feet for great stability and less noise. This unit is built to last. 

Versatility is also this unit’s strong suit. The kit comes with an 11.5ft extension air hose, spare fuse, heavy-duty cables and clamps, a travel carry bag, and nozzle adapters for a variety of light duty jobs, including inflating air mattresses and bicycle tires. 

Pros:

  • Unmatched flow rate
  • Side LED light
  • Rubber feet are very stable and vibration resistant
  • All-metal rugged construction, pure copper connector that never rusts 
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Quite noisy

3. GSPSCN Silver 12V 150PSI Dual Cylinder Air Compressor 

GSPSCN Silver Dual Cylinder 12V Air Compressor Pump for RV
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At a glance:

  • Capacity: 150 PSI
  • Flow rate: 2.47 CFM or 70L per minute
  • Voltage: 12 volt
  • Power source: Battery
  • Hose length: 11.5 ft
  • Weight: 6.2 lbs

Why we love it:

If you love the Asani air compressor above, here’s another excellent 12 volt option that runs a bit quieter. This GSPSCN is also super lightweight and portable and have very stable rubber feet. It has a capacity of 150 PSI and an impressive flow rate of 2.47 CFM or 70L per minute, thanks to the powerful dual cylinders. So for most RVs, you can inflate all four tires in no time. It also comes with a handy backup LED light for use in the dark. 

Although slightly pricier than the Asani model, this air compressor will only set you back by less than $100. The kit also comes with all the necessary attachments and adapters so that you can use it to inflate other inflatable objects and for some light duty applications. The only concern for some campers with that while this unit will fill up RV tires very quickly, its small motors might struggle during extended use, in case you’re using it for other purposes.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Unmatched flow rate
  • Backup LED lighting
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Small motor not conducive to extended use

4. PORTER-CABLE CMB15 Hand Carry Air Compressor Kit

PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor Kit
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At a glance:

  • Capacity: 150 PSI
  • Flow rate: 2 CFM
  • Power source: 120 volt
  • Hose length: 25 ft
  • Weight: 20 lbs

Why we love it:

If you don’t mind an air compressor that operates on standard 120 volt alternating-current power outlets, this hand carry unit from PORTER-CABLE is worth your consideration. Yes, at 20 pounds, it’s on the heavier side, but it’s still easy to move around. And with a capacity of 150 PSI, it can top off larger tires that require 100 PSI and over quite quickly. Its 1.5 gallon tank stores more air in the tank for longer tool runtime and includes a water drain valve to reduce moisture buildup in the device.

What I and other users love most about this air compressor is that its pump doesn’t need oil, so no maintenance is required and it will last longer. In addition, if you often camp in very harsh winter conditions, you will love the motor in this unit, which has no problem starting in sub-zero temperatures when many other models might struggle.

Pros:

  • Starts easily in cold weather
  • The pump doesn’t need oil, maintenance free and longer life 

Cons:

  • Flow rate lower than many similar models
  • On the heavy side
  • Small rubber feet, slightly difficult to stand upright

5. TIREWELL Heavy Duty 12V 150PSI Double Cylinders Tire Inflator 

TIREWELL 12V Tire Inflator-Heavy Duty Double Cylinders Direct Drive Metal Pump 150PSI
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At a glance:

  • Capacity: 150 PSI
  • Flow rate: 2.12 CFM
  • Voltage: 12 volt
  • Power source: Battery
  • Hose length: 16 ft
  • Weight: 8.36 lbs

Why we love it:

If you don’t want to spend more than $100 but still want a high capacity unit that will inflate your RV tires as well as handle a variety of light duty applications, this 12 volt TIREWELL air compressor will be the best RV air compressor for your money. 150 PSI is plenty for most RVs, and the dual cylinder design will allow you to get the job done faster. At just more than 8 pounds, this is also one of the most compact and lightweight units at this PSI level that I’ve come across. 

One thing that you can notice right away is that this air compressor runs as quietly as a whisper and doesn’t dance around, thanks to the fuselage with four-rod design, which effectively reduces the vibration and noise, as well as the rubber feet that keeps the unit in place during operation. Handy accessories include a storage bag, a 11.5ft cigarette lighter power cord, battery clamps and 3 adapters for bicycles, balls, pool toys, sporting equipment and other light duty applications, so it’s highly versatile. 

As for downsides, common complaints mentioned the unit’s small motor and short duty cycle, which might struggle during continuous operation. You won’t likely have to wait for this air compressor to cool down midway if you’re only trying to inflate four tires on a passenger car or an SUV, as this unit can inflate a severely soft tire up to specs in around 4 minutes. However, for some heavy duty towing truck tires and RV tires, it can take at least 7 minutes to inflate each tire up to around 80 PSI. 

Another downside is the short 16 feet air hose and the also short power lead, which is barely long enough to cross the engine compartment and go down to the ground if you’re trying to inflate the tire furthest from the battery. All in all, for such an affordable price, most campers deem these shortcomings as to be expected and are willing to trade off.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Decent capacity
  • Comes with attachments for a variety of light duty applications

Cons:

  • Small motor that won’t run for too long before needing to cycle
  • Short air hose
  • Short power lead

How To Choose The Best RV Air Compressor: Criteria

Regardless of which type of air compressor you opt for, keep in mind the following specification and criteria when comparing different models. The best tire inflator for RV needs not to be the most powerful one but should offer the right balance between price, capacity, portability and ease of use, as this is something that you will use very often when traveling, especially if you’re a full-time camper.

Maximum PSI 

The first important specification to look at when shopping for the best RV air compressor is capacity, that is the maximum PSI at which a unit can inflate your tire. Tire pressure is measured in PSI, which stands for pound-force per square inch. An air compressor with a higher capacity will typically cost more, so buying something too powerful can be an overkill that wastes money. But do allow for a wiggle room, so if your RV tire’s recommended PSI is 65, having an air compressor capable of 75 PSI would be a good idea.

While the recommended pressure for most passenger cars is only between 30 PSI and 35 PSI, the optimal level for RV tires can be anywhere from 35 PSI to 85 PSI. This huge gap is due to the big gap in size between different classes of RV, from the tiniest teardrop trailer to the largest luxury Class A motorhomes. For perspective, commercial trucks meant for heavy hauling or towing would require tire pressure of 75 PSI up to 110 PSI. 

Rate of Airflow – CFM

While the maximum PSI at which a unit can inflate your tire is definitely crucial, that alone is not the most important metric when selecting the best RV air compressor. Another specification that is as important is a unit’s air flow rate, which measures the amount of air that a compressor can produce at a given pressure level within a given time frame. Flow rate is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The CFM depends on how powerful the motor of a unit is.

CFM is particularly important if your trailer tires do take quite some time to get filled up, or if you also want to use an air compressor for larger applications, since an air compressor with a higher CFM rating can supply more air within a given period. In other words, they can inflate your tire to the recommended pressure level faster.

For many campers, a higher CFM is not a deal breaker. In any case, a portable air compressor for RV rated for 1 or 2 CFM at 90 PSI should be sufficient for inflating your tires. In case you also want to use your air compressor to power some tools, the rule of thumb is the CFM rating you need should be at least 1.5 times the required CFM of the tool with the highest CFM rating. For instance, if you need to power a spray gun with a CFM of 3 at 45 PSI, the air compressor should be capable of at least 3 x 1.5= 4.5 CFM at 45 PSI.

best rv air compressor
Photo: Truck Camper Magazine

Power Source

How an air compressor is powered is especially important when you are constantly on the road. Remember that you won’t always have access to a 110V alternating-current residential-style electrical plug, especially if you like to travel off the beaten path. This is why despite having a lower PSI capacity and taking longer to do the job, many campers still opt for the 12 volt DC air compressor, as these can connect directly to your cigarette lighter socket or your RV’s house battery. 

If you want to buy an AC-operated air compressor, you do have options. The best RV air compressor kits on the market should allow you to connect to your cigarette lighter socket with the right attachments as well as connecting to your 12 volt battery using alligator clips, as long as you have a charged battery.

Duty Cycle

This is another metric that might or might not be the deal breaker for some campers. The duty cycle of air compressors tells you how long an air compressor can provide pressurized air before needing to rest, that is before having to cycle air back into it. The best RV air compressor typically has a 100% duty cycle or something close, so that it can provide consistent air pressure continuously without needing to rest while you use it. 

Meanwhile, an air compressor with a 50% duty cycle, for example, will only inflate your tires with pressurized air for a duration of only 5 minutes within a 10-minute run time. You might not mind waiting a few minutes from time to time to let your air compressor cycle, while others might be willing to spend $50 or so more for a unit with a 100% duty cycle.

Portability and Ease of Use

Both space and load in a small or medium sized RV are as valuable as gold, so you need to determine how much space and load you can dedicate for your tire air compressor. If you do need a portable unit, it’s best to shop in the store to check for yourself if a unit is lightweight enough to carry around comfortably by hand and how big it is. The best RV air compressor should come with a solid storage case as well as a long hose so that you can access all the tires without having to move the unit around. 

Resistance to Overheating

Note that most portable air compressors on the market can heat up to some degree during operation, even the very best RV air compressor. Many models boast an overheating protection function which would shut it down as soon as they overheat, but once this happens, it can lead to melting and burning, which is detrimental to the unit’s functionality and structural integrity. 

This means that an air compressor with a high PSI capacity, for instance above 85 PSI, which overheats easily and shuts off automatically every now and then to cool down, would take forever to inflate your tires to the required level and thus would not be a good investment. 

Extra Functions

You might want to use your RV tire air compressor for other jobs, such as for powering tools like tire changing machines or spray guns, or inflating air mattresses, pools, bicycle tires and sports balls. In that case, look for an air compressor that comes with a plug and multiple attachments for a variety of uses.

How To Use An RV Air Compressor

How To Inflate Your Tires

  • Note that the recommended pressure level for any tire is the PSI measured when the tire hasn’t been driven on. To get the most accurate reading of your current tire pressure level and to inflate your tires to the exact PSI recommended by your vehicle manufacturer, your tires need to be cold. This is because if your tires have been driven on, the resulting heat will cause the air inside the tire to expand, thus increasing the PSI and you’d get an inaccurate measurement. Your vehicle needs to be parked for at least four hours or so before using an air compressor. 
  • First, always make sure the air hose is intact, without damages of any kind.
  • Always make sure the air compressor switch is turned to “off”. Then plug in the power cord.
  • Remove the valve stem caps from all four tires and secure them where you won’t lose them.
  • Turn the compressor switch to “on” and apply the hose fitting down on the valve stem. Most air compressors will have a built-in gauge that can read the existing tire pressure. When the air compressor is turned on, the pressure gauge should slowly rise (if the pressure gauge indicates that there’s a decrease in pressure instead, then you know that your RV air compressor is not working properly). 
  • The best digital air compressors will allow you to set the desired tire pressure and will automatically shut off once that level is reached. Otherwise, if your unit is not digital, it’s always easier to slightly over-inflate your tires, then slowly release some air while keeping a close eye on the gauge until you’ve achieved your wanted pressure level.
  • Note here that if you are using the air compressor after driving your rig around, the tires have been warmed up. In this case, inflate about 3 PSI over the recommended level. This is because once your tires have rested and cooled down, the PSI will slightly decrease. Remember to check your tire pressure again once your tires have cooled down.
  • Different optimal PSI for different weather conditions: Check your owner’s manual for the optimal PSI levels in different weather conditions in your manual. On cold days, the air inside is more condensed, reducing the tire pressure, so you will likely need to inflate your tires a bit more.
  • Now you’re done, just put the valve stem caps back in.
  • Note: If you’re using a compressor at Costco or a gas station, pull in as close to the compressor as possible so that the air hose can reach the two rear tires as well.
rv tire air compressor

Note: Where to find the recommended pressure for your RV tires

The recommended tire pressure for an average 16″ RV tire can range from 35 PSI to 80 PSI, and in most cases no more than 85 PSI. The manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for a vehicle can be most likely found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb, even if you bought your RV used. If you cannot find such a sticker though, this information will be included in your owner’s manual or found on your vehicle manufacturer’s website.

An important note is that some vehicles have different recommended PSI levels for the front and rear tires. This is most common in the case of large vehicles intended for heavy towing or hauling. In these cases, the rear tires often have higher PSI, and the gap can be as much as 30 PSI.

Air Compressor for RV Tires: FAQs

1. Who makes the best RV air compressors?

The most established players with proven track records in the arena for the best RV air compressor include Milwaukee, Craftsman, TEROMAS, Slime, Avid Power, VacLife, AstroAI, EPAuto and VIAIR. Buying a best selling product from one of these big names is always a safer bet if you’re not familiar with this RV accessory, as there are more reviews for you to base your decision on, and the most prestigious manufacturers often offer excellent warranties as well as customer service.

That said, the market has seen many new entrants with well-received air compressors for RVs and other applications. In most cases, you can return your purchase within 30 days, so if you know what you’re looking for and come across a unit that meets all of your needs and budget, feel free to make a bet. You might end up getting a great deal.

2. How much is an air compressor for RV tires?

The majority of tire inflators for vehicles on the market range from $35 to just under $250. There are extra heavy duty units and full-fledged kits that can serve other applications, including industrial jobs, but you don’t need them to inflate the tires on your RV, truck or passenger car. These heavy duty units can cost up to $400.

3. What type of air compressor do I need for an RV?

The best RV air compressor in your case do depend on your budget and camping needs, but universally, a digital air compressor will be much more convenient to use than an analog model, since the digital display will tell you the exact PSI reading without you having to squint your eyes and make out the reading on an analog clock-style face. 

In terms of portability and convenience in unloading and storage while camping, a 12 volt air compressor operated on direct current (DC) and a hand carry model would be better than the bulkier and heavier wheeled compressors and tow-behind mobile compressors that operate on alternating current (AC). The 12 volt air compressor operated on direct current (DC) and the hand carry type are the most  compact and lightweight, so they are the best RV air compressor for small RVs with limited available load.

However, they are not as powerful as the larger AC-operated types, so if you want an air compressor that can inflate your tires in the shortest amount of time as well as powering some hobby tools, and if you’re not limited in terms of cargo space and load, the best RV air compressor for you would be a wheeled or a mobile unit that operate on AC power.

4. What size air compressor do I need for my RV tires?

The optimal level for RV tires can be anywhere from 35 PSI to 85 PSI, and in most cases will not exceed 85 PSI. It’s always better to allow for some wiggle room, so if you’re only using the air compressor to inflate the tires on your rig, a unit capable of 100 PSI would be sufficient.

In case you also want to use your air compressor to power some tools for your hobbies, like a spray gun, find the tool with the highest required PSI and multiply that PSI with 1.5, you will get the PSI that you need from your air compressor. For instance, if your RV tires have a recommended PSI of 65 and a tool you want to power that requires 80 PSI, then your air compressor needs to be at least capable of 80 x 1.5 = 120 PSI. 

As for flow rate or CFM, in any case, a portable air compressor for RV rated for 1 or 2 CFM at 90 PSI should be sufficient for inflating your RV tires.

5. Should RV tires be inflated to max PSI?

Plenty of drivers have been confused by the difference between the recommended tire pressure found on the sticker inside the driver’s door and the “max cold pressure” printed on the sidewall of a tire. The rule of thumb in any case and any vehicle is that you should inflate your tire to the recommended tire pressure on the sticker or in your owner’s manual for optimal handling and braking, fuel economy and tire lifespan. 

The “max cold pressure” is the highest level of pressure that a tire can withstand when it hasn’t been driven on, that is any more than this level (or if you inflate your tires to this level and then drive on hot roads) and your tire will burst. You should not inflate your tire to this dangerous level, even if you need to tow or haul something.

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