Imagine you are on a road trip and somewhere along the journey, you end up with a flat tyre. If you have a spare tyre, it may take some time to replace the flat one but if you are not carrying a spare, you are more or less stranded. A useful car and bike accessory to carry along with you is the best tyre inflator.
Tyre inflators can be bought from online automobile accessory stores for around Rs.1500-2000. This is not much to invest considering they can be a literal lifesaver on a long journey. And you don’t need a mechanic to help you out, simply connect the air hose and inflate the tyre using the air pump.
What is an air pump?
An air pump or portable tyre inflator is a small version of the air compressors you find at fuel stations. There are two types of tyre inflators, manual and automatic. The manual type needs you to use a foot pump to create air pressure while the automatic type is electric, it connects to a 12-volt socket on your car’s cigarette lighter or can be hooked up to the battery of a motorcycle.
They are portable enough to fit in the boot of a car or can be placed in the side bag of a motorcycle. Saddle bags are available online at stores that sell Royal Enfield accessories.
Some well-known brands of tyre inflators are Michelin, myTVS and Bergmann.
Advantages of using a tyre inflator
Tyre inflators save you the time and trouble of calling for assistance or taking your vehicle to a mechanic for a flat tyre. Here are some of the benefits of using a portable tyre inflator while travelling.
Portability – tyre inflators are compact enough to be carried along in your vehicle. All you need to do is hook it up to the tyre valve and inflate the tyre. They are a handy device to have and flexible enough to avoid a visit to the workshop.
Saves time and trouble – you can reinflate your flat tyre from the comfort of your home without needing to call a technician or drive to the fuel station to use the air compressor. Why wait in long queues when you can finish the job in a matter of minutes?
Not too expensive – a good quality tyre inflator can be bought for around Rs.1500 -2000 and is a one-time investment that can get you out of a sticky situation. Tyre inflators in this price range are reliable, they are not prone to failure, especially reputed brands like Michelin
Safe to use – tyre inflators come with an automatic shut-off mechanism when the pressure gets too high to protect the device and those around it. The user does not have to monitor the pressure while inflating tyres. Once the PSI level is set, the inflator will turn itself off once the designated pressure is reached.
How do you use a tyre inflator?
A portable tyre inflator is easy to use and does not require much effort. Here are simple steps to use a portable tyre inflator when you have a flat tyre.
If it is an automatic tyre inflator, you need to plug the electrical socket into the 12-volt outlet in your car. For a motorcycle, there are adapters to attach the electrical connection to the battery via clamps. The tyre inflator should power up with the LCD display or gauge initialised.
Inspect the tyre and decide whether it can be inflated. If you notice a large puncture then the tyre inflator may not be helpful in this situation. Use the tyre inflator to fill up a tyre that is low on tyre pressure so that you can drive to the nearest service centre to have it checked out.
Connect the nozzle of the tyre inflator to the tyre valve stem. Make sure it is fitted properly with no air leaks. If you hear a hissing noise, there is a leak from the valve, so reattach the connection.
Switch on the tyre inflator and wait for the tyre to inflate with compressed air. The gauge should indicate the current tyre pressure and you will see the pressure gradually increasing to the desired level.
The recommended pressure can be found in the inner door sill or in the vehicle service manual. The process of inflating a tyre should take a few minutes. Once the tyre has been inflated correctly, switch off the tyre inflator and disconnect the air pressure nozzle.
Keeping your car tyres at the right air pressure is vital for smooth running, good fuel economy, low rolling resistance and a soft ride. A portable tyre inflator is ideal for filling up your tyres when they get low on air pressure or fixing a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere.
Check your tyre air pressure at least once a week and invest in a high-quality air pump to keep your vehicle always on the road. However, always carry a spare tyre in your car and a puncture repair kit to fix a flat tyre. A tyre inflator is a handy tool and investing in one is definitely worth it.