Airing down my tires when I go off-road is a truck camper ritual that happens more often than not. The improvement that it makes to ride quality and performance is so significant, it’s silly not to. But airing down your tires also means that you’ll need to have some kind of way to air up before hitting the freeway. When I began my search for an air compressor a couple of years ago, I originally had my sights set on installing an engine driven air compressor in my pickup truck. While going this route certainly has its benefits, the biggest being that its always there when you need it, I decided to buy a portable 12 volt compressor instead because it can be carried by hand and can be used with any vehicle. With so many choices, weeding out the good compressors from the bad ones took some time. After conducting an exhaustive search on the Internet, and a survey among friends, I decided to buy one of the highest rated portable air compressors on the market–the VIAIR 450P-Automatic.
If you’re not familiar with the VIAIR 450P air portable compressor, it’s pretty neat. The compressor gets its power by connecting directly to a vehicle’s 12 volt battery using the attached power cord and alligator clips. The unit generates an operating pressure of 150 psi for up to 40 minutes before it automatically shuts off for a period of time to cool. It comes with its own soft carrying bag, and includes everything you need to air up your tires, including a 25-foot coiled extension hose with quick connect coupler, a gas station style inflation gun with a 200 psi pressure gauge, and an 8-foot-long power cable. The compressor, which is strong enough to air up size 37 tires, is even mounted on a heavy-duty sand tray with vibration isolators to prevent excessive noise and movement during use. The best price I could find for a VIAIR 450P online was $297.00 through Amazon.com Prime. This is a good price, especially when you factor in free shipping.
The VIAIR 450P-Automatic is the only portable air compressor available in today’s market that features both a 100 percent duty cycle and an automatic shutoff. The automatic shutoff comes into play not only when moving from tire to tire, but also when checking a tire’s pressure in the middle of a fill. Portable 12 volt compressors typically must be turned off between tire fills, and anytime you want to check a tire’s pressure. If you aren’t next to the compressor, this can involve wasted time running back and forth between to the compressor to turn the unit on and off. But not with the VIAIR 450P. This neat little unit shuts off automatically between fills to save you both time and effort to get your tires filled faster. When you couple this time-saving feature with the high quality and ruggedness of the design, you get a portable 12 volt air compressor that stands head and shoulders above the competition.
How well does the VIAIR 450P work in real life? Very well. It literally takes seconds to connect the hose and attachments and start using it. With the air compressor sitting on my front bumper, I’m able to reach and fill my truck’s rear tires using the 25-foot-hose and inflation gun with no problem. Inflating each of my Nitto Terra Grappler 295/70R18 (size 34) tires from 40 to 80 PSI takes about eight to 10 minutes, which is a little long, but it’s still within the 40 minute, 100 percent duty cycle spec. As for my Jeep’s size 31 tires, it takes only three minutes to air them up from 15 to 30 psi. I did notice that my fill gauge is a little inaccurate and gives readings while filling that are about 4-5 psi too low, so you may need to double-check your work with another pressure gauge before moving on to the next tire. The automatic shutoff between filling tires works like a charm and really makes a big difference in time and effort. One thing worth mentioning is that this unit can get very hot during operation. Be careful not to touch any of the metal parts when moving it. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do.
What are the technical specifications of the VIAIR 450P? It delivers 1.80 CFM free flow at 0 psi while the maximum current draw is 20 amps. This means your vehicle should be running when using the compressor; otherwise, you may find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery. You’d think a powerful compressor like the VIAIR 450P would be physically large, but it isn’t. The VIAIR 450P is only 12.75 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 7 inches high. The compressor’s padded and insulated handle makes transporting the 13-pound unit easy even when the unit is hot. It can operate in a maximum ambient operating temperature of 158 degrees F and a minimum ambient operating temperature of negative 40 degrees F, meaning it can be used practically anywhere on the planet. It has a built-in 40 amp fuse and offers the aforementioned automatic reset thermal protection. The VIAIR 450P comes with VIAIR’s excellent one-year warranty, which protects owners from any defects in workmanship and materials.
What are my final thoughts on the VIAIR 450P? Well, as you can probably tell by now, I really like it. Having it gives me peace of mind when I’m miles from any services and help, which in my case, happens quite a bit. I never leave home without my VIAIR 450P portable air compressor. I know its cliché to say so, but it’s the truth. Without fail, whenever I use this unit, I get looks and stares from interested onlookers who’ve never seen a portable 12 volt air compressor in action. Conversations about the air compressor and where I bought it inevitably follow. So if you’re in the market for a portable air compressor, I would give the VIAIR 450P a serious look. The quality, portability, and features of the VIAIR 450P make it a terrific investment and a must-have emergency preparedness item.
Disclaimer: I’m an independent reviewer. I do NOT get paid to review products on this website. I will only recommend products which I use and believe in and which I think will benefit my audience. The views expressed are my personal views and are written without any influence, whatsoever. That said, I reserve the right to engage in paid affiliate marketing and promotion with brands, companies and individuals whose products I review.