How To Inflate RV Tires The Easy Way

TheRVgeeks Great RV Products, RV Tires 41 Comments

We’ve changed the way we add air to our RV’s tires. Before, we used our diesel pusher’s onboard air compressor, but this new way applies to any type of RV, so this tip isn’t just for owners of large motorhomes.

If you’ve seen our previous videos about adding air to high-pressure tires on diesel RVs, you know that using the built-in compressor might not be as simple as it sounds. Besides the problem of the pressure cycling up and then down below our required tire pressures as part of its normal operation, we also try to avoid idling our engine more than absolutely necessary. We hate being an annoying neighbor by polluting a campground with diesel exhaust and noise just because our tires happen to need air. Our new solution not only makes the job easier, but also makes us a better neighbor.

If you’ve seen very many of our videos, you know that we’re all about finding cost-saving ways to solve RV issues, but sometimes a top-of-the-line solution is the best solution, and you get what you pay for.

We discovered Viair, a manufacturer of ruggedized portable compressors, designed to handle more demanding situations, like filling large off-road vehicle tires. We like the fact that they make a model specifically designed for RVers, which got stellar reviews on Amazon, so of course that’s the one we ordered.

For full-timers, space is limited, so every piece of equipment has to provide value. We made room on our RV for this unit, and we’re sharing it because we think it’s such a worthwhile addition to our rig.


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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, and The RVgeeks are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. But our opinions are our own, you won’t pay an extra penny, and we only link to products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence.


Comments 41

  1. Hello RV Geeks! We are newer to RVing and bought the Viair at your suggestion. Is it just me or does it take 30 minutes a tire to top them off? What am i doing wrong?

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      Hi Kae! You’re definitely doing something wrong, and we have a pretty good idea what, since other friends of ours did the same thing we think you’re doing. Before you first use the compressor, you have to put the foam filter element in place. Check the instructions for how to do this. It takes a few seconds, and allows air to flow. Without doing that step, no air can come into the unit, so it won’t work. Topping up a large diesel pusher tire takes us all of about a minute or two to add about 5 PSI.

  2. Hi! We watched many of your videos as we were preparing for, purchased (Winnebago View) and eventually departed on our great RV adventures 2 years ago. We purchased a Viair based on your recommendation.

    We were recently boondocking about 4 miles down a dirt road in Dixie National Forest in Utah. We woke to a nearly flat tire, pumped it up to pressure with the Viair, and drove ourselves out.

    So glad we found and watched your videos and took your advice! Thanks!

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      That is so great to hear, Sue (the “self-rescue” part, not the “flat” part)! 😉 Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know that our videos have been helpful. Means so much. Safe travels. 🚐

  3. I purchased the Viair 400P-RV system on your recommendation, and I love it. Can you recommend a ‘lock on’ dual foot air chuck I can use with it when inflating the 295/80R22.5 tires on my Monaco Dynasty?

    I’m concerned about safety and don’t want to be right next to the tire when I’m adding air.

    Thanks!

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      Hi Tom! We’ve heard from others who have the same concerns about airing up their tires. Although we don’t share that concern (in 14 years of full-time RVing, we’ve never heard of anyone having a catastrophic failure at the moment they were adding pressure to their tires), we understand it. You can check out this dual-foot, lock-on chuck available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2GJp09j

      You should be able to salvage the quick-connection part from the Viair chuck to attach to the new foot. But if you’re using the gun trigger to start/stop the air, you’ll probably also want to get an extra length of hose to put in between the trigger and the chuck, so you can control the air flow from off to the side of the tire.

      Hope this helps!

      1. I bought the recommended lock-on chuck and it worked great from either foot. I used it with the Viair system to bring my 295/80R22.5 tires up to the recommended pressure (125 psi) — no problems.

        Thanks again!

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      We originally found our Viair on Amazon, and since they don’t sell the 450P-RV, we didn’t even know it existed at first. That said, we’re very happy with the 400, and would not switch if we had it to do over again. We’re aware of three primary differences between the two: 1) The 400 is only 33% duty cycle and the 450 is 100%, so it can be run continuously for up to 40 minutes without taking a break, 2) The 400 actually pumps at a higher cubic feet per minute… 2.3 CFM vs only 1.8 CFM for the 450, and 3) The 450 is more expensive.

      Cost aside (since, within reason, we’re generally willing to spend somewhat more to obtain a better tool for doing a particular job), we’d still go for the 400, because of the way we use it. Since we’re only topping up tires as needed (typically adding maybe up to 5 or so PSI per tire to account for elevation and/or temperature changes), we never run it for very long anyway, especially when the time moving between tires is taken into account as rest time for the compressor. Since the CFM is lower on the 450, we’d actually be getting a reduction in the performance that does matter to us: the time we have to spend at each tire adding air. It doesn’t take that long to top up each tire, but multiply by 8 tires on our rig, and taking a minute instead of 45 seconds (for example) each adds up to a little bit, especially if the weather’s bad and we just want to get rolling. Not a big deal, but giving up speed in exchange for the ability to run continuously, when we don’t need that, doesn’t make sense for the way we use the compressor. Add in the extra cost and the 400 is a no-brainer for us.

      All that said, if you’re filling large tires from empty or very low (especially multiple tires), the 100% duty cycle would likely be a necessity. If you’re taking your RV out on sand for example, where dropping the tire pressure dramatically is needed, you’d probably want a 100% duty cycle unit to air them back up. All depends on how you plan to use it. Hope this helps!

  4. Well, guys, I just ordered my very own ViAir compressor (400P-RV kit). Why? I wanna be like you! :-) I’m a devoted disciple! Also, see below…

    After getting my 2005 MADP 4304 pulling a 29′ enclosed car hauler weighed by an RV Safety & Education Foundation (RVSEF) team in St. Cloud, Florida, I’m OK on weight/inflation everywhere on the combined rig, except they believe they discovered an issue in my front ride height adjustment (did I get the nomenclature right?).

    With no concrete reason for being over 2,000 pounds heavier on my front passenger side tire than the DS (that PS corner is apparently “overloaded by 910 pounds at 105 PSI”), the team recommended I immediately increase pressure in both front tires from 105 to 125 PSI, at least until I can get my ride height valves checked.

    I subsequently sent Walter Cannon, RVSEF’s executive director, an email to ask how big an issue he thought this really was. He responded both via email and a phone call that lasted almost an hour (I’m inquisitive & he was so forthcoming!). He also strongly suggested I immediately address this under-inflation/overloading situation on my front right tire before I damage the tire. I’m ok on overall front axle weight (and elsewhere on the rig), but skewed to right front.

    Why am I telling you this? Like you, he also recommended the ViAir compressor to more easily get both front tires to 125 PSI, at least for now (maximum pressure for my Bridgestone 295/80R22.5s). Now with TWO independent and reputable (IMHO) sources recommending this specific compressor kit, this finally got me (my CFO, actually) over trepidation at spending the money.

    We’ve only been on the road full time for less than a month, and I’m still daunted at the complexity of using the onboard compressor. So I had stuffed my bulky garage compressor from home into our trailer (ugh!), but can’t get it over 105 PSI no matter how hard I try. So the ViAir should be here by tomorrow night!

    BTW, Walter is a lifelong RV professional and told me, “you can’t buy a better built motorhome than a Newmar. You can buy as good a one, but not better.” I don’t know if he was just shining me on, or because he’s ostensibly a good friend of Matt Miller’s, but it was good to hear, and worth passing on to fellow Newmar owners!

    But you already know that, right guys?

    Cheers! Gene

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      Sounds like you’re in good hands with Walter. We won’t belabor what they’ve surely already shared about the importance of correct ride height adjustment, but it’s good you’re not letting it slide. We do indeed love both our Newmar and our Viair! Thanks guys.

  5. I have been meaning to ask you Mr. Expert (no disclaimer needed :) ) As I am brand new to rving, I did purchase the viair unit after watching your video and I love this thing. I am so glad I spent the extra money instead of buying something cheap.

    On one of my first outings, I took my RV to a local RV resort near my home in Houston just to get use to it and not be far from home.

    After playing around with the RV I decided to check the tires and would you know it, they were a little low. I pulled out my viair and hooked it up the way the instructions stated and I thought my neighbor was jumping out his skin running over to me to get away from the tire when i fill it up, as it could explode.

    I did see that someone else has used the viair and connected the trigger between main hose and the extension hose, allowing a person to stand a safe distance from the time while it’s being aired up. Is exploding tires a really big concern? I have never read anything on the blogs about that before, and just wondering.
    Thanks again,
    – Jamie

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      Hi Jamie. We know that tire shops put tires into steel cages for the rapid filling process after installation, but in our humble opinion, the fear about a tire exploding while topping up a few lbs of air is pure paranoia. We’ve never heard of it happening in nearly 13 years of RVing. We recently saw that item about the guy who stays back while adding air and just shook our heads. We just can’t imagine living in fear of something that we’ve never heard of happening. I’m sure someone will bash me for saying this, but if we’re going to live in that kind of fear, we’d never go out on the road in the first place. Just our guess, but someone probably saw that tire guys use cages for filling and got the idea into their heads that they explode and protection against that is required for routine topping of air. As we always say, we’re not experts at this kind of thing, but honestly, even if a tire “expert” warned me that I’m risking my life by filling at the tire…. I’m not changing until I read a news story or two about actual tires blowing up. lol

      1. That is how I feel. You have to be the only blog I know of that responds to every question posted. I have no idea how you find the time to do that and film at the same time? LOL share your secret!!

        -Jamie

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      2. I was once told by a tire guy that “Tire failures are very rare and will most likely happen the first time a tire is inflated.” You are correct to say that there is very little danger of topping up a tire.

        That being said, in airport hanger tire shops there is a very strict rule about using the cage for ALL tire inflations. When asked I was told it’s not for new tire failures but re-tread or wheel failures. We don’t use re-treads on RV’s so that is not an issue. Airplane wheels are bolted together and there has been the occasional wheel (or bolt?) failure. But our wheels are one-piece so that is not an issue either.

        Note: aircraft tires are checked daily and, if needed, are topped up on the airplane – no cage. If airplane mechanics don’t feel there is any danger of topping up tires (some of which are a MUCH higher psi than RV tires) then we should not worry about adding a few psi to our tires.

        1. I was just on the Viair website and saw something interesting.

          This compressor is “For up to 37″ tires”. (tried to post the website 400P-RV photo.)

          Your tires (and mine and many others) are larger than 37″. On the other hand, the Viair is good to 150 psi which is WAY more than we will ever need.

          Wonder why their website notes the 37″ maximum. Any comments?

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  6. I can’t possibly say anything new about the good work you guys are doing to help other RVers. My Bride and I just purchased our first RV and have spent the past 2 months getting it ready for our maiden voyage. A 40 plus year dream of ours. Your videos are very articulate with great high definition. A great find for me and now a new follower of your recommendations. I have purchased the Viair Compressor and it works great. Being new… I didn’t even think about needing an air compressor that can put 100 + psi in a tire once I leave my home. I cleaned my windshield with 0000 steel wool and Invisible glass cleaner w/rain repellant. Looked like my windshield disappeared from the inside of the coach! Your videos have led me to remove and clean my Fan-Tastic Fans, put Aerospace 303 on my new tires, keep a California Duster handy, use pop & lock Screens and so much more! Don’t mean to sound like an info-mertial but your experiences and willingness to share them with me (us) has boost my confidence in fulfilling our RVing dreams. Thank You!

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      What else can we say, Keith, except that you just made our day. Nothing better to hear. Thank you so much for letting us know we’ve been helpful. Congratulations and happy trails in your new RV.

  7. Just got one yesterday, but just the 400P. I don’t like the plastic hose and have all the hose,gauges & fittings, so I was able to save about 75$. Now I need to win the TPMS & I’m set! :-)

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      I have a kind of love-hate relationship with every air hose. We have both kinds…. the curly plastic type that came with our Viair, and the more serious type that we showed in our early videos about adding air to high-pressure tires. The bigger hose is heavier, has to be hand-coiled for storage, and takes up a little more space in our basement, and the loops of the curly ones get caught on themselves. Nighter is great. Of course, we now have BOTH types to make room for in the basement, so I guess I should just choose one and ditch the other… or stop complaining. LOL

  8. Perfect timing. I am getting ready to go full time the 3rd week of November and I was shopping for an air compressor. Ordered through your Amazon link, and it works great. Thanks for the information. See you on the road.

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  9. Damn you! I just spent $250 because of this video review. Ha! Thanks for the great tips. Looking forward to receiving my Viair 400P-RV compressor.

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  10. I own use a Viair to Air Up/Down on my Jeep for Off-Roading it’s with me with either Moyorhome , my Class A or Class B . It’s a great and powerful 12 volt compressor , I idle my engine when using because it runs better/faster.

  11. It is excellent that you not only provide the excellent videos, but also that you live and promote being a thoughtful and courteous neighbor at campgrounds.
    Bob Keeland
    2010 Jayco Greyhawk (gasoline motor)

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  12. Can I use this to also just check air pressure without the unit being plugged in or connected to the battery. I’m getting ready to buy a good tire pressure gauge and if this will also check air pressure without plugging in or battery connection it would make my decision a lot easier. Thank you

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      You sure can Ray! You can use it as an air gauge without any power at all. And since the trigger nozzle is on a quick disconnect, you can just walk around with the handle with the air chuck attached and check tire pressures that way, so you don’t need to carry the compressor or hose around. I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks! :)

  13. We are just getting started but so far I have found using the rig air very easy, effective and fast. I haven’t had a need to have anyone pump the breaks, and if I do I plan on just adding a bleed valve to the business end of the hose. What I haven’t found is a nice light reel or spool for my hose. I tried the coil hose and have no use for them.

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      As rear tires are generally grouped in pairs (or three, as in our case with a tag axle) it’s almost always the front tires that need higher pressure to handle the weight of an entire corner of the RV alone. The higher the weight on the tire, the more pressure is needed. Being full-timers, we have a fairly heavily-loaded rig. Based on our front corner weights, our tire chart calls for about 108 PSI up front. That’s high enough that when trying to fill them with the onboard compressor, during it’s downward cycle, below 108, we’re just letting air out rather than adding it. Our first two videos about that (Part 1 here and Part 2 here) go into much more detail. Part 2 covers the addition of a bleed valve, just like you described.

      If you don’t need to pump the brakes to re-engage the on-board compressor, my guess is that your front tires are running lower pressure than ours? Either that or your compressor has a higher working pressure range, although I thought they were all reasonably similar (90-120 PSI, give or take). If you haven’t already done so, you should confirm your fully-loaded corner weights and refer to your tire manufacturer’s weight and inflation tables to ensure you’re setting your pressures correctly for each tire based on the weight they’re carrying. Nothing will wear out tires faster (and maybe risk your life) more than under-inflation.

      As you can see in our first two videos, we were able to get air into our front tires using the onboard compressor and the set-up we assembled, but that didn’t overcome the issue of engine idling, which we really try hard to avoid in campgrounds. We know how unpleasant it can be when people let their rigs sit and idle nearby unnecessarily, and we’re eager to be good neighbors. And of course the whole issue is moot for anyone with a gas rig, since they wouldn’t have an onboard compressor anyway.

      We’ve seen electric cord reels out there, but we haven’t found anything good for the air hose either. Let us know if you find something you like, and we’ll do the same! Thanks. :)

  14. Thanks for the great review. It’s already on my wish list. I’ve been dragging out my big compressor before every trip, and this would be much more convenient. I have really enjoyed your videos, and have learned a lot from them. Thanks so much! BTW. I love my new LED lights from M4; they’re great!

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  15. Another excellent video! Thank you the compressor is on my wish list for future purchase. I have a sears compressor, loud and large, this will be much better!

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