Disclosure: I received a free review sample from Ring Automotive for the purpose of this review. I received no payment and was not required to write a positive review. Links marked with (eBay⇒) or (Amazon⇒) are affiliate links. This means I get paid a small commission if you buy something after clicking on the links. This money helps to pay for the running of the website.
I’ve often written about the importance of keeping your car’s tyres correctly inflated (it saves fuel and reduces tyre wear) and I’ve recently reviewed two foot pumps that are simple to use, affordable and can easily be kept in your car.
However, foot pumps do involve a bit of physical effort and they are not suitable for everyone. Luckily, technology has come up with a solution, the portable 12V air compressor.
Compressors are basically things that suck in air and pump it out at through a small nozzle at much higher pressure. The air machines provided by most garages are compressors but it is also possible to get miniature versions that you can power from a car’s cigarette lighter.
Introducing the Ring Automotive RAC630
A good example of a 12V compressor is the Ring Automotive RAC630, which I was recently sent to review. The RAC630 sits in the middle of Ring’s range of compressors and is the cheapest model to benefit from a digital display and a preset function.
This means you can set the tyre pressure you require on a digital display and the compressor will automatically pump it up to the right pressure, then switch itself off. This makes pumping up your tyres a doddle and also means that you do not have to stand by the machine waiting for the right moment to switch it off.
The RAC630 plugs in to a standard car cigarette lighter socket and also has a couple of other useful features – a white LED light that can be used as a torch and a flashing red SOS light that can be used to attract attention in an emergency. It also comes in a rather smart carrying case, ideal for keeping in the boot.
Using the RAC630
The RAC630 is simple and quick to use. Once it is plugged into a cigarette lighter, you can connect the air hose to each tyre to check the pressures – the current pressure is automatically displayed on the screen.
Inflating tyres is simple and is just a question of using the + and – buttons to set the right pressure and then pressing the start button. Once the required pressure is reached, the compressor automatically cuts out.
The power cord is just over 3m long – long enough for even quite large vehicles, although you will need to feed it out through the door on whichever side of the car you are pumping up tyres. If you want to check all four wheels, this means passing it through the car from one side to the other at some point.
Performance seems good – it topped up my van’s rear tyres to their recommended pressure of 54psi without a problem. Car tyres tend to have lower pressures than this and should inflate faster still.
The air hose on the RAC630 has a handy ‘deflator’ button that allows you to let air out of a tyre if it is over-inflated, which is useful and much easier than trying to press down on the tyre valve with your thumb nail!
The Ring Automotive RAC630 is a well-rounded product with plenty of useful functionality. It is simple to use and seems to offer good tyre inflation performance – the white and red lights might also come in handy sometimes, too, most obviously for inflating flat tyres in the dark.
At the time of writing it’s available for around £20, putting it in the same price range as a good quality foot pump. Which one you prefer is up to you – both should do the job well.