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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.
What’s Good About the Gerchway Portable Air Compressor
This Gerchway inflator is compact and easy to use and store. Those factors should encourage you to keep it in your vehicle so you’re ready next time a tire starts going low in the middle of nowhere. It’s also reasonably priced. The zippered bag makes it even more convenient to carry at all times rather than leaving it on a shelf in your garage.
The flat control panel means there are no actual buttons that might fail or be damaged in the rain. The work light provides beneficial illumination while working in the dark. It’s no substitute for a high-powered flashlight, but it will help you find your valve stem.
What’s Not Great About the Gerchway Portable Air Compressor
If the inflator is placed on its feet on the ground, the 17-inch air hose might only reach your valve stem if it’s on the bottom half of the wheel. Otherwise, the compressor will be dangling from the valve. It’s not a big deal, but repeated use like that could loosen the hose itself.
Unlike the nice little indentation on the bottom of the unit for the air hose, there’s no storage for the power cord other than just wrapping it around the case. That makes storage messier than it needs to be and could eventually damage the cord and plug. Even an attached hook-and-loop strap would be better than nothing at all.
The company-supplied information states that you can use it on 110-volt power by purchasing an adapter. However, there are no external inputs on this compressor to plug into. So, you’d have to make sure to get an adapter to allow a 12-volt lighter connector to plug to a 110-volt power supply.
Our Verdict on the Gerchway Portable Air Compressor
While not the speediest at inflating your tires, the reasonably priced Gerchway is certainly a capable, handy device to keep in your vehicle. With its 12-volt operation, it will always be ready to get you moving again on the road if you start losing air.
The compact size, lightweight, and carrying bag make it easy to store in your vehicle and use when you need it most.
FAQs About The Gerchway Tire Inflator
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q. Can you recalibrate the gauge on the compressor?
A. No, but you can reset the display reading by pressing the R button for at least 15 seconds.
Q. How long can it run continuously?
A. After 10 minutes of continuous operation, the pump should be shut off for 10 minutes to avoid overheating.
Q. Can the inflator be used without the preset feature?
A. Yes. Set the preset to a much higher level than you need, then just press the power switch to stop the inflation when it reaches the proper level.
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