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It is really easy for the big things to take up all of your attention when setting up your tool collection. While you certainly benefit from an extensive collection of hand and power tools, it’s the little things that’ll throw a wrench in the spokes. Air chucks are a perfect example of a specialty tool everyone should keep on hand. You can’t fill a tire with wrenches and hammers. As cool as that would be, you’re better off getting one of your own to keep around the shop.
And sure, you can borrow one from your buddy, but you run the risk of damaging the relationship when that thing slips into the abysmal crack that sucks up 10mm sockets. Air chucks are pretty simple, and you can probably find the exact one you need in just a few minutes. That doesn’t mean there isn’t additional information worth knowing, though. We’re here to shed a little bit of light on the matter so that you walk away with the air chuck you need.
AstroAI Heavy Duty Closed Flow Lock On Air Chuck
Closed flow lock-on tire inflator designed for use with tire inflators but can be used on its own. This model has a competitive price point despite the quality.
- Locking design
- Quality construction
- Competitive pricing
- Does not come with fittings, which isn’t made clear
Milton S-693 1/4-Inch Straight Foot Dual Head Air Chuck
Dual-head locking chuck with 6-inch reach. This design makes it easy to approach valve stems from most angles. The function is matched with quality, as this product is made in the USA.
- Locking design
- Quality construction
- Dual-head improves function
- Made in the USA
- Locking function can be hard to work with
Milton (S-506) Original Dual Head Chuck Tire Inflator
Dual-head extended reach tire inflator with built-in gauge and operation lever that makes filling tires extremely simple. Being a Milton, the quality is superior and it is assembled in the USA.
- Extended reach
- Dual-head improves function
- Built-in gauge for monitoring pressure
- Superior quality
- Gauge is small and hard to read for many users
Benefits of Air Chucks
- Inflate tires. An air chuck’s sole purpose is to inflate tires. They fit over the valve stem and go to work. While that is a simple job, it’s essential because a tire without air is nothing more than a hunk of rubber.
- Adjust air pressure. Basic maintenance and performance driving of any kind requires you to monitor and adjust air pressure in your tires. Air chucks are essential to the process. If you need to make these adjustments while away from the shop, you should consider our guides to portable air compressors, small air compressors, portable tire inflators, and RV air compressors.
- Tackle miscellaneous tasks. Some air chucks come as part of a kit that allows you to do more than inflate tires. You can use them for filling up tires, sports equipment, and even cleaning up around the shop. If you’re just starting to build a collection, you certainly should consider these kits.
Types of Air Chucks
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Most air chucks use a closed-flow design. This type keeps air from flowing until it is pressed or locked onto the valve stem. These are generally the best choice for an air compressor that features a tank as the compressor doesn't have to work to keep the tank filled as you work.
Open flow chucks allow air to continuously flow through once they are attached to an air line and are ideal for use with a tankless compressor. This type of air chuck is growing in popularity as it’s often viewed as the most efficient type. Many are designed for use with Tire Pressure Gauges.
Clip-On vs. Push-on vs. Screw-On
Air chucks secure to the valve stem in a few ways. Clip-on and push-on are the most common designs used. As the name implies, a push on air chuck requires you to push it down on the valve stem to begin supplying air. Clip-on models work similarly but feature a clipping mechanism to keep it in place, reducing the risk of letting air leak out. A third type screws onto the valve stem. Screwing into place creates a superior seal but is considered more trouble than it's worth, considering clip-on chucks are very reliable.
Milton has been hard at work since 1943. In the beginning, it offered only a handful of products and focused more on quality than quantity. Today, it works out of Chicago, Ill., and has grown to become an industry leader in pneumatic accessories. The quality and praise make it hard to talk chucks without highlighting the Milton (S-506) Original Dual Head Chuck Tire Inflator.
AstroAI is a relatively new company that set up shop in 2016. With a headquarters in Chongqing, China, the brand aims to provide a wide range of quality products at affordable prices. It is a specialty automotive tool prevalent for performing a range of odd jobs in home garages. The AstroAI Digital Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge's staggering number of positive reviews make it hard to ignore.
Another famous brand among internet consumers is EPauto. It works out of Walnut, Calif., and produces a wide range of automotive tools and parts at affordable prices. The EPAuto Commercial Grade Dual Head Tire Inflator Gauge with Air Hose is a prime example of what the brand offers.
Since 1983, JACO has been hard at supplying the market with innovative tools to keep vehicles motoring along. The headquarters is in Franklin, Mass., and tire inflation tools are a significant focus. That said, we're glad to have a product like the Jaco FlowPro Tire Inflator with Pressure Gauge on our list.
WYNNsky's sole focus is promoting e-commerce business while supplying quality components to the consumer. It came to the scene with plenty of experience on account of the parent company with success with air fittings. The WYNNsky Tire Inflator's quality with Tire Pressure Gauge just goes to show why we try to tip our hats to the brand.
Air Chuck Pricing
- Under $20: single air chucks and low dollar kits are commonly found within this price range. Even air chucks from premier manufacturers list at very affordable asking prices.
- $20-40: This price range I primarily comprised of kits that include air chucks, tire pressure gauges, or a combination of other pneumatic attachments.
- $40 and up: Air chucks that go for more than $40 are your premium options. They come with features such as a flexible valve extender, a built-in pressure gauge and are offered by industry-leading suppliers.
Like any air fitting, air chucks have a set pressure range that they can safely work with. If you're working in typical settings with a basic air compressor, you likely don't have to worry too much about this detail as most are perfectly viable. Still, it is wise to ensure the air compressor's pressure doesn't exceed the chuck's limits to prevent hazardous situations. Also, be considerate of the low end of the range. If you’re working with a long hose that has a wide diameter, you need to make sure it’s supplying enough pressure for the chuck to fill the tire.
An air chuck can come equipped with a built-in valve extender that provides additional reach. These extenders can vary in length and be rigid or flexible. That said, it's worth determining if this feature is necessary for the applications you're working with and what configuration will best complement the work. Flexible extenders are generally very desirable, but they can drive up the price point quite a bit.
- Chuck Design and Build. As we know, air chucks can fasten to a valve stem in several ways, and you'll want to consider how it does. Another design to be mindful of is the angle of the chuck. Some applications will benefit from a straight-on design, while others require the chuck to sit at an angle. Of course, build quality should also be a concern as cheap components are bound to cause more frustration than production.
- Carry Case Included. Some kits come with a carrying case, and that's certainly worth investing in. You will have a place in the tool box for these tools, but they're easy to lose during transportation or if you just keep them on the bench during a project. Indeed, you can purchase a pouch or case after the fact, but having one out of the gate is always a good deal.
- Hose Size. If an air chuck has a built-in hose, the length of the hose is something to pay attention to. You want to make sure it's long enough to reach into the areas you need it to. If you're working with a single tire application, you likely don't need much length, but dual-wheel setups can certainly benefit for longer-than-normal hose lengths.
Best Air Chucks Reviews & Recommendations 2021
There’s a lot to like about this particular option. Right out of the gate, we should highlight that the price is excellent for two quality air chucks. Price isn’t everything, though. As for the basics, these are closed-flow chucks that feature a locking device to keep it secured to the valve stem as you work. The locking mechanism I paired with a large lever makes it extremely easy to use. It’s a straight-on design that uses quality brass components, allowing these chucks to handle up to 250 PSI. These chucks also have 1/4-inch female NPT threads that accept a wide range of air fittings allowing them to use it independently or as an extension for an air inflator.
The good news is that these chucks hit the mark, and there’s very little to complain about if anything. However, this setup does not come with air fittings, which isn’t noted. Therefore, you need to be sure to purchase air fittings so you can put them to use.
Any time a product made in the USA has a low asking price, it’s worth the investment. Especially if it also happens to come from a brand with more experience than most in the division. This particular offering serves as a kind of twofer because it’s a dual-head design. One head comes out straight on while the other sits at a 45-degree angle. That setup gives you the option to use it for pretty much any fitting. Being from Milton, the quality is there, and it can handle up to 150 PSI. As the standard dictates, it features a 1/4-inch female NPT thread so that you can hook it up to common air fittings.
The only thing to be aware of with this product is that it does feature a locking ring to keep it secure on the valve stem. While this feature is there to benefit you, not being aware that it’s there can cause panic as you try to remove the chuck.
As we know, Milton is in the game of making more than simple tools. This particular entry takes things up a notch by providing you a complete tire inflator setup, not just a chuck. There are a few things that’ll put this in your crosshairs too. First off, it’s a quality piece assembled right here in the USA. It features a dual-head chuck that allows you to approach a valve stem at any angle you need to and has a built-in valve that allows you to control airflow. As if that isn’t enough, it’s also got a built-in gauge that enables you to monitor air pressure so that you don’t have to rely on separate tools.
The gauge is a great touch, but it is a little hard to read. It’s just a bit too small for many. Even so, that doesn’t exactly hold this product back.
If you’re just setting up, chances are you’ll need more than an air chuck. What makes this entry so appealing is that it comes with virtually everything you need aside from an air compressor. The air chuck it comes with is a dual-head design that allows you to tackle pretty much any valve stem. It also comes with the fittings and couplers necessary to hook it up to the included air hose. Other than that, you also get a tire pressure gauge, an air cleaning tool, and a range of attachments allowing it to perform other tasks. And don’t worry, it is a total package, but it runs for a very competitive price.
Unfortunately, the quality is questionable, as you might expect. The hose seems to be the weakest link, but users do claim some other parts are short-lived. Still, it’s a decent kit to startup with and will work fine for light use.
So, what if you already have screw-on air chucks that you can’t stand to use? Rather than throwing them away, you can put this solution to work for you. It’s designed to screw in place of a valve stem allowing you to use a simple locking chuck type instead. The locking design provides a tight seal and features a long lever that makes hooking it up and removing it extremely simple. One more thing that makes this a great option is that it has a 9-inch rubber hose with a braided nylon wrap. So, if your screw-on chucks are limited in reach, this will also solve that issue.
The only drawback is that it’s a specialty tool. If you don’t have screw-on chucks, this has no value to you. Other than that, it does what it says, and the quality is there to designate it a decent tool.
There’s always room for over-engineering when it comes to tools. This offering from Jaco is far beefier than most. For one, it has a durable steel powder-coated body. That, in combination with the quality construction of all other components, work to guarantee it’ll last a very long time in any shop. The large lever, swiveling lock-on chuck, and rapid air bleeder make this thing as easy to use as it is rigid. We should also note that it has a long 21-inch flexible hose to allow you to reach into particularly tight spaces. And if all that isn’t enough, Jaco backs this unit with a 100 percent guarantee.
Unfortunately, there are too many issues with the gauge’s accuracy to ignore. Many reviewers report that the gauge is off. But the lifetime guarantee does work to help customers experiencing this on account of a factory defect.
If you need extended reach, you are not limited to a flexible hose. Here we have yet another entry from Milton, and it is however another dual-head design. The extended design of this model gives you 12 inches to work with, which is ideal for dual-wheel applications. A nice touch for use with those applications is the locking ring on either end of the chuck, meaning you don’t have to keep constant pressure on the valve stem at awkward angles. Of course, it does feature the female NPT thread; you’ll need to hook it up to standard air fittings.
The one complaint to pay attention to is that the head sits at something of an awkward angle. It’s not impossible to use but can pose difficulty if the valve stem you need to hook onto won’t cooperate.
This model from AstroAI has an astounding amount of positive reviews, and it would be a sin not to include it on the list. We get it, it’s not just an air chuck, but the entire package is precisely what many are looking for. That said, it’s a digital tire inflator that provides a live pressure reading as you fill tires. That display even has a backlight for use in the dark. On top of that, it features a locking chuck and perfectly shaped trigger that both make for a pleasant working experience. And because it comes with the fitting, a valve core removal tool, valve stem caps, and thread sealing tape, you don’t have to worry about purchasing much more to get working.
A few reviews report issues with the valve not locking securely into place. They say you still need to apply pressure to prevent air from leaking. While it’s functional otherwise, this can serve as a significant disappointment.
Honorable MentionEPAuto Commercial Grade Dual Head Tire Inflator Gauge with Air HoseCheck Latest Price
As we near the end of the list, we’re taking a look at an EPAuto tool that has a little bit of everything. This design features a 6-inch dual head chuck mounted to the top of a flexible air hose. That reach can come in handy when trying to fill dual-tire applications but remains manageable on others. The robust base comes with an easy to use valve that controls airflow. That control is complimented by the built-in gauge that allows you to monitor tire pressure as you work. Even if it’s a standard, it is worth mentioning that it features a 1/4-inch female NPT thread, meaning it’ll work with standard air fittings.
As with most air inflators like this, the gauge is a little hard to read. While that doesn’t make it a bad option, it will inspire many to move onto something else.
What’s a better way to end the list than by taking a look at an actual air chuck and not a kit or tool that includes one? Again, we turn to Milton because the company is on the ball when designing pneumatic tools. The look is simple, but it does everything you need. It has the 1/4-inch NPT female thread to accept most fittings and a locking lever that makes it easy to secure into place. There are plenty of ball-foot designs on the market, but one that locks into place makes a big difference when dealing with valve stems on certain applications. Of course, it’s also made in the USA, which is always a plus.
That locking lever has a lot in its favor, but it will pose issues for many applications. It tends to contact the rim, making it impossible to operate properly. Your experience may vary, but it’s something to be aware of.
- You’re bound to lose, misplace, or lend out air chucks. It’s worth investing in a few to prevent yourself from winding up in a bind.
- Air chucks are relatively inexpensive, but losing them can still be extremely frustrating. It’s worth investing in a small case or pouch to help you keep track of them.
- You always want a tire to be filled to the appropriate specifications to prevent excess wear, promote performance, and reduce the likelihood of blowouts. Therefore, you’ll want a high-quality tire pressure gauge on hand, if not built right into the chuck.
- Remember, there's a reason a tire went flat. It's best to keep tire or inner tube repair equipment on hand so that you can deal with any punctures.
Q: How do you attach a hose to an air chuck?
Some air chucks attach to hoses with the use of air couplers. Many options come with these attachments and must be installed. Others use a barb connection that you must slide a hose over then secure into place with the use of a hose clamp.
Q: Does air hose size matter?
Air hose diameter and length contribute to the amount of air it can flow and how much is lost. You want to consider the operating PSI range of a chuck and how much air pressure is supplied by the hose you are using to ensure it will work.
Q: How do you tell if a tire is flat or just needs air?
Simply put, a flat tire won't hold any air. A dead giveaway is when the sidewall below the wheel is hardly separating it from the ground. A tire that's low on air will still elevate the wheel, but less than it would when it's at the proper PSI rating.
Q: What size air compressor do I need to fill car tires?
Filling tires isn't particularly demanding of an air compressor, meaning you don't need something large. Anything that can supply at least 1-2CFM at 90PSI is perfectly fine. If filling tires is your only concern, you can even rely on a small portable tire inflator.
Our top pick goes to the AstroAI Heavy Duty Closed Flow Lock-On Air Chuck because it’s an affordable option that offers respectable quality for a low cost. Speaking of cost, the price is actually for two chucks, meaning you don’t need to double down for a backup. But if saving money is the primary concern, you can grab the Milton S-693 1/4-Inch Straight Foot Dual Head Air Chuck, which comes from an industry leader.
Our word isn’t gospel, though. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think the best air chuck is!