If you’ve been following the weather this past week, then you already know how cold it was in much of this country. Where I live in New England, we saw (and felt) cold temperatures that we haven’t seen in decades. With that said, the timing could not have been better to try out the new Car and Driver AIRX™ 300 portable tire inflator. How did it fare in a -20°F environment? Is it the best portable tire inflator in 2023? Let’s take a closer look at this Car and Driver AIRX 300 tire inflator review.
Car and Driver AIRX 300 Tire Inflator Review
- Portable, cordless design
- Digital display
- Ease of menu
- Battery charged
- Built-in flashlight
- Sturdy, protective case
- USB-A & USB-C charging connections
|Brand||Car and Driver|
|Manufacturer||Summit Electronics LLC|
|Model||AIRX 300 Digital Inflator|
|External Materials||Aluminum, ABS Plastic|
|Product Dimensions||8" x 1.9" x 1.9"|
|Product Weight||18 ounces / 0.5 kg|
|Power Input||5 V / 2.4 A|
|Power Output||5 V / 2 A|
|Power Consumption||54 Watts|
|Charging Capacity||5000 mAH|
|Charging Time||< 3 Hours|
|Pressure Range||0 - 120 PSI|
|Air Flow||16 LPM Max|
|Noise Level||80 dB Max|
|Charging Port (Power Input)||USB-C|
|Charging Output (Power Output)||USB-A|
Last month, I was invited to the Car and Driver Tech showroom at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV. As someone who likes working on cars and playing with the latest in automobile technology, how could I resist? Of their four new product offerings, the AIRX™ 300 was the one I could immediately put to use.
AIRX 300 Tire Inflator Construction and Design
The first thing you notice when you open the box is that the AIRX™ 300 is quite a handsome product. Its exterior is made from aluminum and ABS plastic. It’s sturdy yet weighs just over one pound. An air hose port and flashlight are located on the top, while on the bottom, there are USB-A and Type C charging connectors.
Along the front is a digital display with a 5-button menu. This menu is so easy to comprehend that many of you won’t need to refer to the user manual. On the very top line are three items, two of which you may rarely see. They are the air leakage, the overheating warning, and the battery power indicators.
The second line is the product category that you’re about to inflate. Press the middle button (M) until you come to the product category you’re looking for. These categories are auto, motorcycle, bicycle, ball, and others.
Under that line, you’ll see the default pressure value for each category. And yes, pressure is adjustable via the up and down buttons. If you need to adjust the unit of pressure, hold the M button down until PSI flashes. Now you can select any of the other three units (BAT, KPA, Kg/cm²). This pretty much rounds out the menu.
Along with the tire inflator, you’ll receive a zippered storage case, an air hose, a Type C charging cable, and a handful of valve adapters and sealing rings.
AIRX 300 Tire Inflator Performance
As I stated in the opening paragraph, we had some very cold days here last week. The kind of cold temperatures that break records. And what happens in cold temperatures to a car, more specifically its tires? Well, to phrase it simply, tires lose their pressure. And right on cue, mine did. Nonetheless, I still had to get out of the house and drive to wherever need be that week.
When I received the Car and Driver AIRX™ 300, it was put to use the very next day, and twice the following week during the cold stretch. And each time, it worked like a charm. It arrived fully charged thus I was able to fill all four of my Honda Accord’s 235/45 R18 tires to their recommended pressure of 32 psi, and with nearly half a charge left over. But the big test was the following week.
During the subzero temps, the two rear tires fell to 23-24 psi while the fronts only fell to about 29 psi. I’m not entirely sure why they didn’t drop in unison, but I suspect it has something to do with the valve stems. Nonetheless, on the -30°F to -20°F sunny Saturday morning, it took no more than 2 minutes to fill each of the fronts and about 6-7 minutes to fill each of the rears. But I did encounter a problem. Just as I was about to charge the first tire, I accidentally hit the flashlight button. Not realizing my error, it remained on for the duration. And because of this, the battery charge went to zero. Suffice it to say, I was lucky that morning. I’ve also noticed that if you’re not careful, the strap on the storage case when released could also activate the flashlight. A future solution to this problem could be delayed activation after holding down the button. This is how the power button operates.
I should say that on my second car, the front driver’s side tire was 15 psi. This tire took over 10 minutes to fill.
Now you may be asking yourself, ‘why didn’t he just take his car to a gas station and fill it there?’ After all, there are three air-filling locations within a mile of my home.
The first answer is to never operate your car on low-pressure tires as you may damage them. The second answer is sometimes those air-filling machines don’t work in the cold, especially in extreme cold. Sometimes they’re broken, awaiting repair. This happens to these three machines all the time, the closest of which is still broken. And third, in your haste to fill the tires, you may forget to bring the change required to operate these machines provided they’re operational. Who hasn’t left their house without their wallet?
There are two more items I want to mention with respect to performance. The first is that each time I exhausted the battery on the AIRX 300, it took two hours to fully recharge. The literature states three hours, so I was pleasantly surprised. Second, if you’ve powered the device on and haven’t put it to use, there’s a fail-safe mechanism built in. If unused for 100 seconds, the device will automatically power down. This latter feature comes in most handy.
• Portable, lightweight design
• Durable body
• Simple, straightforward menu
• 5000 mAh battery
• Price of $129.99 may be too high for some
• Product availability is limited to the Amazon store
• Buttons should be some color other than black
• Flashlight button placement could be better
Now and then we receive a product at the right time to give it a proper workout, and this one hit on the nail. Since I’m the type of person who loves to work on and maintain his cars, this product was a must to review. Time is money to me. As someone who likes to save both, filling up tires in my driveway which I do on weekly is far better than traveling to and from one of the local gas stations. Sure there’s an upfront expense in purchasing a tire inflator, but the time saved is more valuable to me.
Since this product is only available on the Amazon store, I got to see plenty of competition in this product category. Amazon just loves to show competitors. The high majority of portable tire inflators (all but two) were from brands I’ve never heard of and wouldn’t trust regardless of price. And many of them were approximately half the price of the best two in this category.
Even though the AIRX™ 300 is priced at $129.99, I have seen it as low as $99.99 on the Amazon store, so check occasionally.
This well-designed product has earned a 4.5 out of 5-star rating.
What do you think of this Car and Driver Digital Inflator review? Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Let us know in the comment section below or via social media. We’re eager to hear your thoughts.
Don’t hesitate to head over to the Car and Driver Tech website as well as their Amazon store to see their other auto-related product offerings. To learn more about product support, click Support at the top or bottom of their website. The AIRX™ 300 comes with a one-year warranty which is located on the back pages of its user manual.
FTC Disclosure: Car and Driver provided Beantown with one (1) AIRX™ 300 digital inflator sample for review purposes. This writer’s opinion is 100% his own and not a paid product ambassador.
All photographs are the copyrighted property of Beantown © 2023.