What Size Air Compressor Do I Need To Fill Truck Tyres?

For truck drivers, having a flat tire (especially in a remote location) is one of the most frustrating situations. No driver wishes to be surprised by a flat tire the middle of nowhere and with no means to inflate. That’s why every driver needs to invest in the an air compressor for truck tires.

When searching for the right size of air compressor to fill truck tires, there are many factors to consider. The size of the truck and number of tires are important considerations, but so are things like airflow and pressure.

With countless choices of air compressors for pneumatic tools in the market, it is easy to choose the wrong air compressor. Fortunately, we have done the research for you, and below we will explain the top considerations when looking for the right size air compressor for this job.

For more information on the right size air compressor for a particular job, please see our comprehensive guide What Size Air Compressor Do I Need? which includes 41 real-world examples. You may also be interested in the other articles in this series:

Important Considerations for selecting an Air Compressor for Filling Truck Tires

The size of the vehicle 

Trucks vary in types, from semi trailers to heavy duty trucks. Smaller trucks are not that big, so their air pressure requirements are manageable. Most are within the 35PSI range. The usual small portable compressor (the types with the little pressure gauge) can fill up such tires easily. However, the same unit may not work optimally on a heavy-duty truck. For such a vehicle size, you are better off using an equally powerful air compressor. The compressor will help you complete the job faster and more thoroughly.

The size of the tires 

The size of the truck tires is important because some air compressors are built for specific sizes. Some of them are designed for heavy-duty trucks such as construction vehicles, while others suit smaller trucks. So you should check whether the equipment has the capacity to properly inflate tires in a minivan, recreational vehicle, or a small truck alone. If your truck uses huge off-road tires, consider getting a very powerful air compressor. You will find it handy when you need to fill in the tires fast, especially when the ambient temperatures are high, or if you have a completely flat tire. For a truck that has standard size tires, we would recommend a smaller air compressor that also offers advantages of lower price and portability without hampering inflation speed.

How many tires it has 

Did you know there is a truck out there that has 128 tires!? Even the most powerful air compressor would take some time to fill up those tires. While the usual truck may not have that number of tires, it is important to consider how many tires you have before buying an air compressor. The bigger the vehicle size, generally the more tires it has, and therefore the higher the pressure requirements for the compressor for truck tires.

The PSI needed 

Pounds per Square Inch or PSI is the measure of the applied pressure required for a unit area. On average, an average truck tire works with about 50 PSI. For the extra large trucks, up to 80 PSI may be necessary. These are only averages; you want to look at the pressure specification on your truck tire. A point to remember: While most air compressors can match the inflation power requirements of truck tires, you need to watch out for low CFM ratings covered in impressive PSI. The point is that it is better to be capable of reaching the recommended pressure quickly than be in a position to achieve astronomical pressures at low inflation speed!

The CFM needed 

The CFM or airflow of an air compressor indicates the speed at which the equipment pumps out air. While the most common unit for this measure is cubic feet per minute, you may find some compressors with liters per minute rating. Assuming that you want to have the highest speed of inflation for your personal trucks , we would recommend a high air compressor CFM rating. Sometimes portability is more desirable, yet such air compressors tend to have lower CFM. But the portable air compressors can do a splendid job; only that it will take you slightly more time to fill the tires. On the positive side, you will most likely save money by opting for a portable air compressor instead of a heavier one.

The Tank Size needed

The size of the air compressor tank (shows the capacity of the unit) determines the run-time, or the duration of filling up the truck tires. Usually, the capacity of an air compressor is given in gallons. A large tank is recommendable because it means that you can inflate more tires without needing to refill. Bigger is always better for these items. This will give you an idea of what air compressor tank size to pick for your truck. Usually, regular personal truck will do with a medium sized portable air compressor, but bigger, heavy-duty compressors are needed for massive trucks.

The Duty Cycle 

The duty cycle, often shown as a percentage, indicates the downtime a compressor requires for a cycle time. It also shows the length of the cool down period. Most air compressors have a duty cycle of 50%, which means that they need to rest for half of its cycle time. For an air compressor cycle time of 60 minutes and 50% duty cycle, it will operate for 30 minutes and rest for 30 minutes. Duty cycle or air compressor rest is crucial because it prevents premature wear of overheating. Understanding the duty cycle of your compressor as provided by the air compressor company should help you understand how the device operates; you can determine if it suits your tire inflation needs.

The Cord & Hose Length needed

Having a portable air compressor can be a great advantage if you want to fill truck tires more conveniently. You don’t have to take your truck too close to the power source, so air compressor portability is a big factor here. However, that is only possible if you have a hose and power cord of adequate length. Be careful though because power issues, especially in the motor, tend to come with a longer power cord. Some factors that determine the best length extension for the cord are temperature of the surrounding, type of metal for the cable, and amperage of the circuit breaker. As for the air hose, there may be some slight loss attributed to the extra length.

Any additional attachments that might be useful? 

There are several auxiliary features or additional attachments that could make your air air compressor even better for filling truck tires. Something like an inbuilt flashlight can be helpful when you get a flat tire in the dark. You can also use some of these lights as warning lights. It might also be valuable to have additional nozzles that make the compressor applicable for inflating other items apart from tires. It could also be valuable to have a good PSI gauge on the unit for safety reasons.

Talking of safety, I found this great video providing some really useful to know tips when inflating truck tyres safely. Credit to Fleet Equipment.

In Conclusion 

Knowing that your truck is in fine fettle and ready to hit the road is vital for a long distance driver, so we hope that this guide has been helpful to you. Now that you have read about the features that define the right size air compressor for truck tires, we can bet you will have an easier time choosing. Now check your budget and grab a great air compressor for your truck today.

Please share your opinion about the right size air compressors for truck tires in the comments section below. We can also take any questions that you may have about measurement of volume and all other aspects of the ideal type of compressor for this job.

Jeff Stelling

Jeff Stelling is an air compressor obsessive who has been working with compressors for over 25 years, since he was an apprentice engineer in the mid 90’s. He designed Aircompressorcompare.com to offer technical guidance and buying advice for compressors.

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