A portable tire inflator is handy for keeping your tires pumped up and crucial when one of them starts letting you down. You want a compressor that’s easy to store in your vehicle, easy to use, and pumps up with enough speed that you don’t grow old while waiting for the psi to build.
The Gerchway portable air compressor seemed like it might fit the bill, so we bought ours on Amazon for about $20. It falls into the lower end of the price spectrum for portable inflators and mini compressors, but it has the capabilities needed for easy inflation on the go.
Since it’s one of the more affordable mini tire inflators/air compressors on the market, we wanted to see if the Gerchway has what it takes to compete with the big boys. It even features a digital display, which distinguishes it from much of the competition in this price range.
I decided to let some air out of my Subaru Crosstrek’s tires and see what the Gerchway could do in terms of inflation speed, pressure accuracy and automatic shutoff, and overall ease of use.
Unboxing the Gerchway Portable Air Compressor
The Gerchway Portable Air Compressor makes a good first impression before you even open the box. Colorful graphics with a futuristic robotic hand operating the compressor provide a nice introduction.
Once you open the box, you’ll find a sleek-looking unit with touchscreen controls, an integrated work light, and three little rubber feet on the bottom. It measures about 9 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 3.5 inches high, and weighs in at just under two pounds. The attached 17-inch air hose is clipped neatly into the bottom of the inflator, but the 11-foot 12-volt power cord is twist-tied with no on-unit storage.
The compressor comes with a ball needle and valves for other types of inflatables, a spare fuse, four metal valve caps for the forgetful or careless among us, and a nice little zippered storage bag.
Getting After It with the Gerchway Portable Air Compressor
- GOOD: Reasonably fast inflation for a small portable, compact size, built-in gauge with automatic shutoff, digital display.
- BAD: No cord storage, 12-volt only.
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After dropping the air pressure in my tires by varying amounts from 5 to 10 psi, I plugged the Gerchway into the 12-volt outlet in my center console and set about testing its capabilities. The air hose attaches to your tire firmly with the snap of a lever, and a tap of the power button then brings up a display of your tire’s current pressure. A button marked R toggles the units on the gauge display. Tapping the plus and minus buttons allows you to set the pressure you’re seeking. Another tap on the power button starts the compressor.
The noise level of the Gerchway compressor is on par with other portable units, meaning you’ll wake anyone who happens to be sleeping in or near your car, but it won’t cause your neighbors to run outside to see what the racket is.
Speed isn’t the strong suit of any portable compressor, especially compared to a gas station or tire-store pump. With the Gerchway, it took about two minutes and 50 seconds to add 10 psi to my tires, meaning it should take just under nine minutes to fill an average tire with no pressure.
Since you’re going to be more likely to add just a few psi here and there with a portable tire inflator, the total time isn’t too bad. It’s pretty good in an emergency, too, compared to getting stranded or ruining an expensive tire by driving on it with low air pressure.
The automatic-shutoff feature actually displays a half psi higher than you set it for, before the unit stops pumping. That being said, each time I checked the tires with my own gauge after inflating I found them to be consistently one or two psi higher than the Gerchway indicated. As with most other automatic-shutoff portable inflators I’ve encountered, double-checking your post-inflation tire pressures with a gauge is always a good idea.