Having a portable 12 volt DC air compressor in your vehicle is a very handy convenience. Some might consider it a necessity. We’re always looking for affordable and effective automotive products to review and test. When the folks at Audew offered to send us one of their air compressors for testing and review we were happy to oblige. They sent us their 3 in 1 portable air compressor and we’ve been putting it through the paces ever since. Is this product something we’d recommend for your vehicle or should you steer clear? Read our Audew Portable Air Compressor Review below to find out!
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What’s in the Box:
The staff from Audew sent us a compressor directly from their Amazon store inventory. We received the compressor, carrying bag, paperwork and also several accessories in a plain white box.
This compressor came with a lightweight canvas zipper storage bag. The material is lightweight but also feels durable enough for long term storage and usage in a vehicle. The nylon strap handles are sewn on with care. Everything stows away nicely for neat and tidy storage and portability. The black color means this won’t show dirt and that is ideal when something is stored in your vehicle’s trunk or storage area.
The Audew air compressor comes with a variety of air hose attachments. The tire valve stem attachment with locking tab is built into the air hose itself. Your purchase also includes a couple of nozzles for filling things like pool toys or other items. The accessories feature economical plastic construction but they’re effective for their intended light use. We also received one inflation needle for inflating basketballs, footballs and more. The needle features metal construction with a plastic base. We’re a bit worried about how the plastic accessories will withstand rough use but they should hold up fine with normal care and handling.
A single replacement glass fuse is provided which is a nice touch.
Our compressor came with a precautionary document that explains issues you might encounter and a multi-language instruction manual. Both feature the poor translation into English we’ve come to expect from these affordable products manufactured in China. Fortunately, you can decipher the intended message. None of it is really necessary because the unit couldn’t be easier to operate. Instructions aren’t really necessary.
Compressor at a Glance:
The highlight of our unboxing is, of course, the air compressor itself. This particular unit is a 3 in 1 product with three main functions:
- Air compressor
- LED light
- Digital Tire pressure gauge
Size and Weight:
The compressor is actually a bit smaller and lighter than we anticipated. We considered this a nice surprise. We were expecting something a bit larger and heavier. This tire inflator measures approximately 8.6″ x 7.6″ by 3.5″ and weighs in at just over 2 pounds. The image below shows the compressor next to a normal #2 pencil to give an idea of the size.
The compressor uses a 12 volt direct current power supply. Your vehicle provides power via its cigarette lighter socket or possibly also through a similar port labeled as a power port.
- 12V DC Operating Voltage
- Max Operating Current is 10 amps
- Product power rating is 120W
- Maximum Pressure: 150 PSI
- Air flow rate up to 35 Liters per minute
- Noise level less than 60 db
- Power Cord length just under 10 feet
- Air hose length approximately 22 inches
- Maximum recommended continous working time of 8 minutes
- A minimum of 3 minutes for a cool down period is recommended when the unit is used for 8 to 10 minutes continuously. When adjusting air pressure in tires ,or inflating a single tire, you likely won’t see durations this long.
Using this portable air compressor is quite intuitive and very easy. We didn’t even need to use the instruction manual to figure out how to use the device. When inflating tires you need to know the recommended air pressure for your vehicle and tires.
The recommended air pressure for front and rear tires is typically listed on a decal or badge on most US vehicles. You can often find this information in the driver’s side door jamb area of your vehicle. If you cannot locate this information, consult your owner’s manual or vehicle manufacturer to obtain recommended pressure settings. In a pinch in an emergency, you can refer to the maximum air pressure specification listed on a tire’s sidewall. This will tell you the maximum air pressure safe for that specific tire. Keep in mind this is a maximum pressure and not necessarily the recommended pressure for your specific vehicle. For safety and tire longevity, you should inflate tires to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications.
Using this portable air compressor is easy. First, we recommend starting your vehicle’s engine to avoid draining the battery. This also ensures your vehicle provides full power to the air compressor. Next, insert the 12V DC connector into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter or power port. The compressor’s LCD display will now light up. You can connect the air hose to a tire and the unit will automatically obtain a pressure reading at this point. We recommend placing the compressor flat on the ground with the LCD display facing straight up. This is more stable than standing the unit on one end. This also allows the rubber feet on the bottom to grip and prevent movement during inflation.
To connect the air hose to a tire, you’ll need to remove any cap on the tire’s valve stem. Then ensure the plastic locking lever on the compressor’s air hose is fully extended in the unlocked position. Next, press the air hose tire connector over the valve stem to firmly seat it. Flip the locking lever down to lock the air hose onto the valve stem.
The buttons under the display are used to change the measurement units and to set a specific air pressure setting. Pressing the first button labeled “R” will change the units of measurement displayed on the air pressure gauge. Since we’re in the USA, we were mainly interested in setting our device to read in PSI. If you need to add air to a tire simply use the + or – buttons to increase or decrease the PSI setting until you reach the desired final pressure. Next, just flip the rocker switch below the LCD display into the on position. The compressor will start inflating on its own and automatically stop once it reaches your desired air pressure setting.
Once the unit shuts off, you can promptly remove the air hose. Just flip the locking tab on the air hose into the unlocked position and pull the hose off. A little pressure may be lost during this procedure but it is negligible. If you’re concerned you can simply set the desired pressure a little (0.5 PSI or less) above the desired final pressure to compensate for the small amount of air that may be lost while disconnecting the hose.
Automatic Shutoff: The automatic shutoff is definitely our favorite feature. It is so convenient to not have to watch the compressor like a hawk and manually stop it while guessing at your final pressure.
The compressor also has a built in LED integrated into the top of the unit. The light is located in the area where the air hose wraps around the compressor for storage. It is a bright white LED that shines out a few feet in a wide beam. This would definitely be useful in an emergency situation. The light also helps to increase your visibility at night during an emergency, keeping you safer on the roadside.
The only problem we noticed with the LED is it can’t be turned off. The LED light illuminates when the compressor is plugged in. It remains illuminated whether you need it or not. This isn’t a significant issue but the light can shine in your eyes while moving things around in the dark until you get used to it.
The air pressure gauge seems reliable to us. We love the backlit display. It makes pressure readings incredibly easy to view at night. The readings we’ve obtained have corresponded with what we get with a dedicated handheld tire pressure gauge. One of the “three in one” functions touted for this unit is the tire pressure gauge. The gauge is very convenient when filling tires but not too useful for routine checks. We can’t imagine dragging out this unit and plugging it in just to take pressure readings as part of normal daily vehicle checks. For that task we’ll stick to a dedicated tire pressure gauge.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter. The main reason you’re reading our Audew portable air compressor review is because you want to know how well it works. This portable air compressor actually performed better than we were anticipating. It operates more quietly than we were expecting and even inflates tires a little faster than we are used to. So far it has handled everything we’ve thrown at in our testing. It inflates quickly and quietly and hasn’t gotten hot during our normal testing. We’ll be doing some longer inflation times in the near future. The automatic shutoff feature is awesome and the unit stays put without sliding around thanks to the rubber feet on the bottom.
Power Cord and Air Hose Storage:
The short air hose (it measures about 22″ in length) elegantly wraps around the outside of the air compressor’s housing. There’s even a recessed area where the hose’s nozzle snaps into place to hold it secure. It works quickly, efficiently and as designed. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for the power cord storage.
The power cord doesn’t quite wrap around the area provided. This is a small complaint but we found it frustrating because we can see what might have been. The manufacturer put a beautiful molded recess for the power cord’s plug to snap into. There is also a recessed area with four tabs where the power cord should wrap around. Easy right? The problem is these two designs fall just a bit short in real world use.
There isn’t quite enough area to easily wrap the power cord around the storage area and get the connector snapped into its home. Unless you wind the cord uncomfortably tight, you run out of room for the cord. You almost have to force and jam the cord into the position at the end. Worse yet, the tabs designed to hold the cord down aren’t quite large enough to keep the outer wraps from popping back out of place. If you are lucky enough to somehow get all the cord wrapped in place, you’ll find you can’t easily put the cord’s connector end in the recessed area. If you could manage to do it, you’d put the cord at an odd sharp angle bend in that area.
The bottom line is you end up needing to choose. You can wind most of the cord for a neat appearance and leave the cord end dangling or snap the end in place and work backwards winding as well as you can leaving some cord that won’t quite fit. Either way, the final result doesn’t look quite right. We’re not saying achieving cord wrapping success is impossible. It just isn’t easy. The entire process is more time consuming than it needs to be. It’s far easier to simply wind the cord in some loose loops and wrap a twist tie or velcro cord wrap around it.
We recently put this compressor into service in mid-March of 2018. It has withstood several uses with normal, real world handling. We intend to test the longevity and durability of this product over its useful life with long term testing. We’ll be updating this review with long term results periodically. Be sure to check for updates below.
So far, this compressor feels reasonably durable despite its primarily plastic construction. We do not foresee any issues with the main body unless the unit is dropped from a significant height or otherwise subjected to abuse. There are a couple of areas where the construction concerns us a bit. One example is the tire connector on the air hose.
The main body of the tire valve connector is metal but it is lightweight. The plastic locking tab is our primary concern. We’ve seen these connectors fail and break on other pumps in the past. With cautious care and handling we don’t anticipate any issues. However, the air hose may not withstand rough handling.
The buttons used to adjust air pressure are also a point of concern. They don’t feel too durable but with normal handling they should last a long time. Otherwise we doubt they’ll stand up to someone pressing them too hard or repeated use in a commercial setting for example.
Finally, the power cord is a concern. One common point of failure we see with Chinese manufactured products is the power cord. This device’s cord does seem a bit more durable than other similar products. None the less, electrical cords are an area where manufacturers often skimp on quality. Unfortunately, this is also the part of the product that sees the most use and abuse. People often abuse power cords by pulling, twisting, yanking, winding and unwinding them. They also wrap them around products for storage. Needless to say, we’ll be keeping an eye on this part of our compressor during our long term testing.
What did we think after conducting our initial Audew Portable Air Compressor Review? Overall we are very pleased with this compressor. We absolutely love the ability to set a desired pressure setting and let the machine inflate to it and shut off on its own. This is much faster and more convenient than manually monitoring the process. To conclude, let’s take a look at all of the features we loved, and a few we didn’t, in the lists below.
- Affordable Price
- Compact and Portable
- Easily stores in the included storage bag
- Easy to use
- The auto shutoff feature is very convenient
- Digital pressure gauge is accurate and easy to read
- Backlit display is easy to see at night
- Long length power cord means you can easily reach all four corners of most vehicles
- The built in bright white LED is a nice touch
- We like how the air hose wraps around the unit for storage
- Quiet and fast inflation
- Included accessories increase versatility and usefulness
- Seems reasonably durable
- Versatile design is suitable for cars, trucks, bikes, RVs and even in your boat to inflate water toys, and more.
- The display is backlit but the buttons for air pressure settings are not. They can be a bit difficult to see in the dark. Fortunately, there are only two buttons you really need here so they’re easy to figure out by feel.
- The plastic construction on the air hose accessories is a bit cheap
- The air hose connector itself could be fragile and easily damaged if not handled with care. The plastic locking tab is our main concern because we’ve seen these same connectors break before if they aren’t handled properly.
- The power cord doesn’t quite wrap around or stow away in the area designed for the task.
- Plastic construction and economical buttons lead to some concerns over durability
In conclusion, we’re very pleased with this product. If you’re looking for an affordable and portable 12V air compressor that shuts off at a predetermined air pressure, look no further. The price is generally not much more than most air compressors without the automatic feature. As a result, based on our experiences so far, we recommend this Audew portable air compressor.
Where to Purchase:
If you’d like to buy this product yourself, we’ve provided the following links and resources.
You can also purchase this product from their amazon store.
eBay is another great place to find this, and other similar products.
Audew 3 in 1 Portable 12V Air Compressor
Ease of Use9.9/10
Air Hose Length8.5/10
- Easy to use
- Automatic shutoff feature is awesome
- Backlit display
- Digital pressure gauge works well
- Includes storage bag
- Lightweight and compact design
- Quick, quiet & cool
- Good cord length
- Built in LED light
- Cannot turn off the LED light
- Plastic construction might not withstand rough handling or abuse
- The buttons are difficult to see in the dark. Fortunately the operation is simple
- The power cord doesn't quite fit in the cord storage area
- Plastic locking tab on air hose