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What Size Air Compressor for Truck Tires? Guide

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Air compressors are often used to fill car tires by many people at home. When it comes to larger vehicles like trucks, people often stumble and aren’t sure what size air compressor you need to fill truck tires?

This article will provide you with all the relevant information on this topic, as well as providing you with some examples of suitable compressors.

Table of Contents

Important Considerations for Selecting an Air Compressor for Filling Truck Tires

Before you select any air compressor for any project, there are a number of factors you must consider to help ensure you get the most suitable compressor for your work. When selecting an air compressor for filling truck tires, you should consider the following:

  • Vehicle size
  • CFM rating
  • PSI capabilities
  • Tank size
  • Duty cycle
  • Power cord length
  • Additional attachments

Each is important in its own way, with some being more important than others. Let’s now take a look at each in more detail!

Vehicle Size

The term truck is quite broad, given that there are many variations of truck designs, sizes, how many tires they have. From pickup trucks to semi-trailers, each will have different requirements when it comes to filling their tires with compressed air.

The air compressor you need will typically depend on the size of the truck and the number of tires it has. It’s generally advised that the bigger the tires are, the bigger the compressor will need to be to offer more power, a larger tank size, and a longer cycle time.

What Size Air Compressor for Truck Tires? Guide

CFM Rating of Air Compressor

In general, vehicle tire inflation should use an air compressor that can produce at least 2 CFM (cubic feet per minute). CFM is a measurement of the volume of air that is moved by an air compressor, if you wish to learn more, please visit our guide here!

Sometimes, you may be able to get away with less than 2 CFM, for instance, some electric cigarette lighter tire inflators use less than 1 CFM but are able to provide huge amounts of PSI. In other cases, you may want to have an air compressor that can produce up to and over 10 CFM to be able to comfortably fill your semi-truck.

PSI Capabilities of Air Compressor

You will need an air compressor that is capable of providing the correct amount of pressure into your truck tires. You can find out what PSI your tires require by simply looking at the tire on your truck, it will say on the tire. If you can’t find it, refer to your truck’s user’s manual, and sometimes it may even be noted on the inside of your fuel flap.

Most modern vehicles will have tire indicators that notify you when your tires are low, and maybe even tell you what pressure they should be at. In general, a small personal truck will need around 40-80 PSI while big semi-trucks may need pressure up to 120 PSI.

Being aware of the PSI requirements of your truck will kick start your search for a suitable air compressor! It’s best to have an air compressor that is capable of operating at 125 PSI to be sure you’ll have no issues.

Tank Size of Air Compressor

The tank size of your air compressor will dictate how much pressurized air you have available to fill your truck tires. In terms of the tank, the bigger the better! The more volume you have the more air you will have available at any given time.

For personal trucks, a mid-range portable air compressor with a tank size of 20-gallons should suffice. If you wish to fill a semi-truck with more than 4 tires and you don’t want to be disrupted, you may need a tank size of around 50-gallons. The decision on tank size really depends on the size of your vehicle and how many tires you intend to fill in one sweep!

It’s also possible, and very common, to use a tire inflator that doesn’t require a tank, the small portable air compressors that produce a continuous flow of air at pressures that reach 150 PSI are a perfect choice, and I will provide an example later in the article.

Duty Cycle of Air Compressor

The duty cycle of an air compressor is represented by a percentage, which determines how much downtime a compressor needs during its cycling. For instance, a 50% duty cycle, which is very common, represents the need for the compressor to rest for 50% of its cycle time to avoid overheating and premature wear. If the cycle time is an hour, the compressor can work for 30 minutes and idle for the other 30 minutes.

For more information on the duty cycle of an air compressor, visit our guide here. The duty cycle is important to be aware of in case you desire continuous airflow or are happy with intermittent use. Typically, when filling truck tires, a normal duty cycle of 50% and intermittent use should suffice for getting around the tires of your vehicle.

The duty cycle won’t be a worry for the portable cigarette lighter compressors because they’re rated for continuous airflow and hence, are ideal for tire inflation.

Hose & Power Cord Length Attached to Compressor

Air compressor portability is very important for filling the tires of any vehicle. If your air compressor is portable and you can get it outdoors near your truck, you will need a long enough power cord. The thing here though is that using an extension cable can dilute the power, depending on the length of it. And so, the compressor may not operate at its optimum. Visit our What Size Extension Cord For An Air Compressor guide for more information!

If your compressor is not so portable, or you don’t wish to use an extension cord, then you will need a suitable length of hose to be able to get the compressed air from your compressor to each tire on your truck. Again, this is not an ideal situation as the longer your hose length becomes, the greater the pressure drop across it, and so, you will need to account for any potential pressure drop to ensure your tires are receiving the right pressure.

Cigarette lighter tire inflators are readily designed to be able to reach all your tires and typically come with a suitably sized hose.

Additional Attachments

If you opt for a normal air compressor, as opposed to the portable tire inflators that you can store in your truck. You will need to keep in mind that you’ll have to purchase additional attachments to be able to fill your truck’s tires. It’s probably best to get a tire inflator kit that has everything you need to turn your air compressor’s hose into a tire inflating device.

This will allow you to regulate the pressure of air going into the tires and monitor it via a gauge to ensure you put in the correct amount. Here’s an example of a tire inflating kit readily available on Amazon!

Examples of Suitable Air Compressors for Filling Truck Tires

I will now provide you with some examples of air compressors that are readily available on Amazon for filling truck tires!

Tankless Tire Inflator Examples

This first one is a GSPSCN portable cart tire inflator which is also suitable for trucks.

There is an abundance of tire inflators like this example available online and in retailers, they’re ideal to keep in your truck for emergencies! They simply plug into your 12V in your truck and are capable of providing pressures up to 150 PSI.

You can set the pressure you desire and the compressor has an auto-stop function for when it reaches that pressure. Multiple users have left reviews saying how great it is for filling heavy-duty trucks and SUV tires.

This AstroAI air compressor below is the number one bestseller on Amazon for inflating tires. The compressor is capable of providing up to 100 PSI and is another great option for a compact, fast & efficient device to store in your truck and have at hand.

Suitable for a wide range of applications, the manufacturer states that is suitable for trucks and SUVs along with multiple users reviews stating its competency for these uses. The compressor comes with a quick connector nozzle and a screw rotation nozzle to suit your different situations.

Air Compressor Examples

It may be that you prefer to have an air compressor for not only tire inflating but powering all sorts of pneumatic tools. And so, here are a couple of examples that would be suitable, based on the considerations I provided earlier in the article.

This Campbell Hausfeld DC200000 air compressor has a 20-gallon tank and can operate at a maximum pressure of 150 PSI.

This compressor is capable of providing 4 CFM @ 90 PSI and can be used for a wide range of garage and workshop projects along with filling truck tires. It has large wheels which enable you to move the compressor wherever you need, to help with reaching the tires on your truck.

This NorthStar air compressor is an example of a far larger storage compressor with a 60-gallon tank. The problem with this type of compressor is that it’s stationary, and though it offers a huge amount of air storage to be able to fill your semi-trucks tires, the accessibility to each tire may become an issue, and so, lengthy hoses would be required.

The compressor offers 11.5 CFM @ 90 PSI with a maximum operating pressure of 135 PSI.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How big of a compressor do I need to fill truck tires?

Depending on the size of your truck the answer will vary. For a small pickup truck, you should be fine with a compressor that can provide 50 PSI with a 20-gallon tank. While a larger more commercial truck will require a compressor that can provide 125 PSI with a 50-gallon tank.

What is a good air compressor for truck tires?

A good air compressor for filling truck tires is any compressor that can provide upwards of 125 PSI, this should cover all types and sizes of trucks.

What size air compressor do I need for a tire changer?

In most cases, an air compressor that can provide 150 PSI is adequate for the majority of automotive applications including a tire changer.

How much PSI does a truck need?

This typically depends on the size of the truck. Larger semi-trucks will require pressures between 100 PSI and 120 PSI for their tires while smaller pickup truck tires may only require around the 40-50 PSI mark.

What size air compressor do I need to remove lug nuts?

To remove lug nuts, you will need to power an impact wrench. So, the size of the impact wrench will depict what size air compressor you require. In general, a compressor with a CFM of 10-20 should be enough to power your impact wrench and remove lug nuts on your vehicle. For more detailed information, visit our What Size Air Compressor Do I Need For Impact Wrench? guide!

Additional CFM reading:

What size air compressor:

If you have any questions regarding what compressor you need for truck tires, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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