What Are Tyre Pump Adaptors For?

When you see listings for electronic tyre pumps, you’ll often see a range of other stuff that comes in the box. Depending on how well written the sales page is when you buy it, it’ll sometimes be really vague and other time go into a ridiculous amount of detail.

One common item that you’ll see listed as included when you buy is an adaptor, or more likely adaptor set. That’s led to a little confusion among our readers at times, as it’s not immediately obvious what it’s referring to if there’s no context.

26PCS Bike Pump Adapter - Schrader Valve, Presta Valve, Dunlop/Woods Tyre Valve Adaptor, Bicycle Tire Pump Adapter(AV DV SV) with Ball Pump/Air Pump/Compressor Adapter for Mountain Road Bike Toy Ball large image

As you can see in the image, there are all sorts of potential adaptors you might get, or want to use. As an aside – if you already have a tyre inflator – you can buy the kit in the image from Amazon here:

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From here on in, we’ll assume you don’t already have an electronic pump for your car tyres, and are researching to find out what you’re needing to buy. If you’re now clear on the role adaptors play, and realise now you probably don’t actually have much of a need for them, you can see more about them in our best tyre inflators reviews.

On the other hand, if you want to find out more about why you’ll often get them in the box, read on…

Do I Need A Car Tyre Adaptor To Use An Electronic Portable Inflator?

Almost certainly not! For the vast majority of motorists, the adaptor set that comes with your tyre pump will rarely (if ever!) get used. Tyres are pretty much universal in their valves, in the UK at least, so a pump that works on one car will likely work on them all on British roads.

We say ‘pretty much universal’ because there are specialist vehicles that have very specific wheels or tyres, so if you’re heading out to perform at a monster truck show, your average AA tyre inflator might not be up to the job, not in reasonable time anyway.

The connectors on tyre pumps do vary slightly – if you’re used to using the ones on the petrol station forecourts, then it’s most likely that you’re familiar with the variety that you push on to the wheel’s tyre valve and secure with a lever. Most portable devices tend to use a different method, much more similar to pumping up a bicycle tyre. They simply screw onto the valve thread, but other than that difference are just as simple to connect.

If you like the sort of connector you use at petrol stations, you can get an adaptor – here’s an example on Amazon:

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If I Don’t Need An Adaptor, Why Are They Included?

It’s a great question, and to be completely honest there’s a few possible answers, and we can’t tell you for certain which one applies in the case of a give brand.

However, the obvious reason is to make the product more appealing. A lot of tyre inflators are marketed for very similar price points, so ‘little extras’ can make all the difference in the perceived value when you make your purchase. As we said, most people rarely-to-never use the adaptors, but it’s not going to stop the retailers from pointing out that you get them to close the sale.

What Are The Adaptors For?

There are varying numbers of supplied adaptors depending on which product you choose, so if they’re important to you, read what’s in the box carefully, and hopefully the answer will be there somewhere. Here’s some of the more common ones:

Ball Needle

If you like to kick a ball about, throw a ball about or partake in any other inflated ball based sport, you’ll know that from time to time they need pumping up. I have fond memories as a child of watching my dad get increasingly more irate in the garage trying to find the needle to go in the hand pump. Of course, it was stored in the ‘safe place’ like everything else you might lose, never to be found again.

Tyre inflators make that job really easy – no more hand pumping to get the air in, just use the ball adaptor on the air hose and you’re ready to go. What’s more, many models have a compartment or storage slot built in for when the needle’s not in use – how’s that for a safe place?

Inflatables Adaptor

There are no end of novelty toys that this will work with – some we won’t mention here!

Common choices might include inflatable dinghies, garden water slides, rubber rings and so on. One we wouldn’t recommend they’re used with (although the nozzle will fit) is kids armbands. As you generally inflate them on the arm, it’s not wise to use an electric pump and manually inflate them with good old huff and puff instead. It’s a much safer option to do it manually, and leave the automated wizardry do the beach ball for some swimming pool fun!

Air Beds

By air beds, we mean the sort you have at home, as opposed to the outdoor lilo style you might float around on in the pool on holiday. This one you need to be a bit more careful with the the earlier adaptor types, and the airbed air holes can come in a huge range of shapes and sizes. What’s more, a lot of tyre inflators need to be plugged into the car to work – not ideal if you’re trying to inflate a spare bed on the kids bedroom floor. In that scenario – you’d need a battery powered/rechargeable unit like the Oasser P2 or P1S.

In summary, adaptors aren’t likely to make or break the deal when you settle on the car tyre inflator you like the look of, but they are a handy extra if you need to pump up the odd bike tyre or football. Look at them as a bonus rather than a core reason to buy – it makes no sense to get an inferior pump for your car wheels, just to get a free ball inflator needle thrown in, unless you pump up a lot of footballs in your spare time of course!