EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated August 2019 with additional PDFs as well as an update on a second use.
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Some years ago, we found ourselves out of town when the tire pressure monitor indicator lit up on our vehicle. We had, for some reason, not put a tire pressure gauge in our car, and we weren’t at all sure where the nearest gas station with an air pump was. We were lucky that day to be visiting friends who could point us to a place to help us, but we resolved after that to be a little more prepared for future trips.
Thus, when we spotted the Auto XS Portable Tire Inflator on Aldi’s shelves, we decided to buy one. We figured it would provide some peace of mind should we once again find ourselves with a tire concern far from home.
We needed it.
The Auto XS Portable Tire Inflator is an ALDI Find (Special Buy), which means it’s only in stores for a short time. At the time of this post, it sold for $14.99, which is less than many of the other tire inflators out there. It comes with the main compressor, a few adaptors, and a manual. It’s backed by a 2-year warranty, serviced by 801service.net, which also services some of Aldi’s other products. (You can view a PDF of the warranty card here.)
The tire inflator measures about 8 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 2 1/2 inches tall. It’s fairly compact, so it can fit pretty easily into a corner of a trunk or even into a glove compartment that isn’t too full.
The tire inflator comes with a 10-foot cord that plugs into a 12V cigarette lighter-style car socket, so it can be plugged into a car. (It isn’t designed to plug into a wall socket.) The cord is long enough that I was able to string it from the socket in the front of my compact SUV to my rear tire with distance to spare, and it should be fine for all but the largest of passenger vehicles.
The inflator has a 2-foot air tube that attaches to the tire’s air valve. The default option is a piece that neatly screws into a car tire valve, but there is also a compartment under the inflator that houses other adapters for things like bike tires. It’s worth noting here that partially unscrewing the inflator will cause air to flow from the tire, so if you have an overinflated tire, this device can help with that, too.
Both the cord and the air tube stow away in compartments along the sides of the larger inflator.
The inflator has a pair of small LED lights along one side that is activated by flipping a light switch. This light is useful for seeing your way while connecting the inflator to the tire, although, unfortunately, the pressure gauge does not light up, so you’ll need to either use the reflection of the LED light off of something else or use a separate light source to see the pressure in the dark.
Using the device is simple, although there is a specific order to doing things. The order is below, but you can also see a PDF of the instructions here.
- Plug the tire inflator into your car’s socket and make sure the key is either in the on or aux position. The inflator won’t work — not even the pressure gauge — until it’s plugged in and powered.
- Turn on the inflator. The manual indicates you should do this before plugging it into whatever tire you intend to inflate.
- Attach the inflator’s air tube to the tire. If it’s a car tire, that involves screwing it on to the tire valve; otherwise, use the appropriate adapter.
- Allow the inflator to inflate the tire to whatever pressure the tire calls for. (A typical car tire, for example, is 32-35 PSI.) Keep in mind that tire pressure recommendations are based on cold tires, not ones run over long distances.
- When the tire reaches the recommended PSI, turn off the inflator and remove it.
Our test of the Auto XS Portable Tire Inflator was completely unplanned. While traveling several hundred miles from home, we awoke one morning to discover that our rear passenger tire was flat. The culprit: a nail. We were less than five minutes from a tire shop, so I plugged in the inflator and used it.
The manual states that the inflator takes about 8 minutes to inflate a tire. That was about right. In 8 minutes, the inflator was able to push my tire from less than 5 PSI to about 30 PSI, which was enough for me to get to the tire shop and get the tire patched.
A few observations. One, the inflator was a little loud and a little warm, but it wasn’t outrageous and was expected given what it’s asked to do. Two, the pressure gauge on the device appears to match up pretty accurately with both our car’s onboard tire pressure readings and our pen-style small tire pressure gauge.
UPDATE (8/7/2019): We ended up using the tire inflator a second time, on a friend’s car whose tire pressure monitor had come on. We were able to successfully troubleshoot and fill the offending tire.
If you’re looking for a little peace of mind on the road, you could do a lot worse than the Auto XS Portable Tire Inflator. For $15 you get a compact device that can fill a range of different tires, including bikes, cars, trucks, and SUVs. The 2-year warranty is a plus.