When it comes to the safety and reliability of your car, few things are more important than your tires. If they’re overinflated, you’re at risk of a blowout. If they’re underinflated you get poor traction, worse braking, and inferior gas mileage. In other words, it’s really important to maintain the recommended air pressure.
So, what do you do when your car’s low pressure light comes on? You’ll have to pull into a service station and use the air pump to top yourself off. This is all well and good if you’re close to a station. But what do you do when you’re out in the country, or if it’s just not convenient to go to a gas station?
In that case, it can be helpful to have your own air compressors. But different compressors come in different shapes and sizes. Some are designed to use in your garage, and plug into an AC outlet. Some are ultra-compact, and are designed to run on batteries.
Others are a bit larger, but are still designed to carry around in your truck. Which type you need will really depend on how much driving you’re doing. The type of driving also matters. For instance, if you have a dual-axle truck and do a lot of towing, that’s a lot more tires to keep full. In that case, you’ll want a correspondingly more powerful compressor.
Gobege 12V Portable Air Compressor
Today, we’re going to review the Gobege 12V Portable Air Compressor. This is a powerful compressor designed to achieve pressures of up to 150 PSI. It’s designed to fill your tires quickly and painlessly, so you can get back on the road. It also comes equipped with a heavy-duty 26-foot air hose, complete with a built-in pressure gauge.
But how well-engineered is this compressor, and how much work can it get done? How is it powered, and what kinds of tasks is it capable of? To find out, we’ll have to look a lot closer at all aspects of its design. We’ll need to look at the physical build, the accessories, and how it’s operated. After we’ve given it a thorough evaluation, we’ll be in a better position to deliver a fair verdict. Let’s get started!
The Gobege 12V Portable Air Compressor is compact by compressor standards, but big to carry in your car. It measures 12.9 inches wide and 8.3 inches high, with a thickness of 5.9 inches. The all-metal housing is exceptionally durable, and can take a beating if need be. That said, it’s also fairly heavy. The total weight of the compressor is 16 pounds. Not incredibly heavy, but hardly the kind of thing you throw in your backpack and carry around.
The center portion of the housing is rectangular, and is available in red or orange. The matte finish is scuff-resistant and easy to clean, and there’s venting on the front and back. This allows air to flow through over the motor, keeping it cool during operation. The compressor motor is laid out horizontally, with black, rounded end covers that protrude from both sides of the housing.
A large handle extends across the top of the unit, connected by black metal brackets. At the left side, there’s the vertical compressor cylinder, which stands as tall as the top of the handle. On the right end of the handle, there’s a little metal nipple. This is where you connect the air hose during operation. The power button is located on top of the housing, just beneath the nipple.
The bottom of the housing is attached to the top of a black metal base plate. We liked the way it’s put together, with an eye towards vibration reduction. To begin with, the base plate itself has a set of big, fat rubber feet underneath. But the mounting bolts on top also run through rubber bumpers. Not only does all this vibration reduction cut down on noise, but it keeps the compressor from “walking” away.
Gobege backs their compressor with a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. In the event of a premature failure, you’ll receive a refund or a free replacement.
Power & Accessories
So far, we’ve been looking at the Gobege compressor itself. But for it to work correctly, you’re going to need some accessories. Thankfully, everything you need is already included in the package. To begin with, there’s an 8-foot power cord with black and white alligator clamps at the end.
This connects to your car battery, and provides power to your compressor. Just make sure your engine is running, so you don’t drain your battery! We would have liked to see an AC power option as well, so you could use the compressor away from your car. But for topping up your tires on the roadside, 12-volt power is just fine.
The air hose measures 26 feet long. This gives you enough length to reach any of your car’s wheels. Even on a pickup with a trailer, you’ll have plenty of reach. The hose is made from a heavy-duty rubber, and can take significant abuse if it needs to. Around a foot from the end, there’s a circular pressure gauge, right in line with the hose. This makes it easy to keep track of your pressure level as you’re filling your tire.
The end of the hose has a right-angle connection, designed to fit over your valve stem. However, you can also fill up other inflatable devices. The kit includes a needle for athletic balls, as well as wide and narrow-gauge plastic tips. If you want to fill up an inner tube at the lake, you’ll be able to do that.
To keep everything sorted out, you get a black nylon storage bag. This is a simple rectangular bag, with a pair of handles, and a zipper around the top. It’s big enough to hold the entire kit, including the air hose, and the material is reasonably durable.
An air compressor is only as good as its pump and cylinder. The more air you can move and the more you can pressurize it, the faster your tire will fill. The Gobege compressor is capable of moving up to 5.65 cubic feet per minute. By the standards of a full-sized, AC-powered compressor, that’s not a lot. But by the standards of a 12-volt compressor, that’s a whole lot of power.
This compressor can fill a 35-inch tire from 0 to 30 PSI only a minute. However, most tires require more pressure than that. But no matter how you cut it, you’re still getting very good performance. Filling that same 35-inch tire from 0 to 38 PSI would take less than five minutes. In cases where you’re just topping off a low tire, you’ll get very good performance indeed.
The maximum air pressure is 150 PSI. That’s far more than you’ll ever need for any tires, but it can be useful for other purposes. If you have an external tank, for example, there’s no reason you couldn’t rig this up to power a nail gun. Then again, you’re still tied to your car battery. So you probably won’t want to use the Gobege compressor the way you’d use an AC-powered compressor.
How long you can continuously use the compressor depends on the pressure level. At 40 PSI, the motor is rated for a 40-minute duty cycle. With higher pressures, it will have a shorter duty cycle. At lower pressures, you can run it for longer without a break. In practice, you don’t really have to worry. There’s a built-in temperature sensor that will shut off the motor when it gets too hot. To start things back up, you’ll need to press the little black reset button next to the power switch.
What Makes a Good Compressor?
So, what makes a good air compressor? Depending on your application, there might be any number of features to look for. But for tire inflation in particular, there are a few main things you’ll need to consider.
Inflation time is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the amount of time it takes to fill your average tire. This won’t always be the precise inflation time for your tire. It will depend on the size of the tire, as well as the recommended pressure level for your vehicle. The measure of air flow in cubic feet per minute can be a good indicator, too. Any compressor that moves less than 3 CFM is a poor choice.
The maximum pressure rating of the compressor isn’t all that important for car tires. Even a relatively weak compressor will have more than enough power. But if you’re filling street bicycle tires, you’ll want to have a maximum of at least 130 PSI.
Simply put, how is the compressor receiving its power? Many emergency compressors are designed to run on your car’s ordinary 12-volt DC power port. Some, like the Gobege, attach directly to your battery. Still others are battery-powered, like the ones on our list of the best battery-powered portable tire inflators. If you can, it doesn’t hurt to find a compressor that has an AC power option. But for emergency roadside use, you really want one that uses DC or battery power.
A good compressor will have a built-in gauge so you know what pressure level you’re at. The last thing you want to do is damage your tire by overinflating it. A good built-in gauge helps you get your pressure to the exact right level.
The Gobege 12V Portable Air Compressor is a well-engineered machine that’s surprisingly capable. We would have liked to see an optional AC power cord. But other than that, there’s a lot to love about this compressor. It can support very high pressure levels, and it has more then a long enough duty cycle. It also has a high-quality hose, which was surprising, given the low price. All in all, we were very happy.