What are the different types of tire deflators?

Tire deflator is a tool that allows you to air down your tires to a specific pressure. So it’s also called deflator tool or air down kit. It’s often used for 4×4 driving in offroad adventure. So, sometimes people named it as 4×4 deflators, 4WD deflators or deflators for Jeep or offroad. People  may use it when challenging different terrains: rocks, gravel road, sand, mud… The history of the development of tire deflators is very interesting. It has been updated for several generations. Generally, the new generation is easier to use and saving more time than others before. So, we can classify those generations into 4 different types regarding to the simpleness of use.

  • Manual deflator valve ( stick style or screw on)
  • Manual air down tool with gauge
  • Preset automatic tire deflator tool
  • Adjustable automatic tire deflator kit
What are the difference between those 4 types of tire deflators?
Let me try to explain the difference in 4 aspects: Operation, Speed, Accuracy, Difficulty in Manufacture, Price.
1st Generation – Manual deflator valve:
Manual deflator valve-1
Manual deflator valve-2
Manual deflator valve-3

Up pictures show common manual deflating kits in the market.

  • Operaion: The left one act like a stick, press down, air vents, then lift it to stop.For the right two models, you can screw them on to the tire valve for continuously air down.In this way, people need to prepare a gauge the detect the pressure from time to time. The process is very boring. And you need to keel down for long time if your desired pressure is not ‘Zero’.
  • Speed: very slow.
  •  Accuracy: depends on gauge’s precision, frequency of detection and experience.
  • Difficulty in Manufacture: Easy to make.
  • Price: 5$~25$ (varies by brand, appearance)
2nd Generation – Manual air down tool with gauge:
Manual air down tool with gauge
  • Operaion: commonly, this kind of deflator works by removing the valve core. Usually, it require 4 steps to deflate a tire.
  1. Scew on to the valve stem
  2.  remove the valve core
  3.  press down to air down;
  4.  assemble back the valve core when finished.

Due to the method of ‘valve-core-remove’, it will be very fast, at least 3 times faster than the first generation Manual Defator Valve, But, this type also require people kneeling down and keep watching the gauge value. 

  • Speed: Medium. It’s the fastest way to air down a tire, but you need to defalte all four tires one by one. So the total time will be 4 times.
  •  Accuracy: Should be accurate when your gauge’s accurate.
  • Difficulty in Manufacture: Easy to make, just need to ensure the accuracy of the gauge.
  • Price: 20$~60$ (varies by brand, gauge accuracy, and appearance)   
3rd Generation – Preset automatic tire deflator tool:
  • Operaion: this kind of deflator is often called preset automatic tire deflator because it requirs people to preset the deflator first before using. All those types of deflators has the similar way to preset.

1. adjust a tire to desired pressure

2. Scew on to the valve stem

2. turn the top cap anti-clockwise until air escaping;

3. turn the top cap clockwise until it shut down (no air escaping).

4. turn the locking ring up towards the top cap and lock

5. repeat step 1~step 4 for the rest 3 deflators.

After all these preparation work, you can use them when you need to air down tires.

You only need to screw them onto the 4 tires valve, and they let they works and they will stop automatically when the pressure drops down to your preset pressure. So you don’t need to kneel down and keep watching it.

  •  Speed: theoretically, can be the fastest, because 4 deflators works at a time. But, this type of tire deflator from the market
    has quite difference on speed. Bellow picture shows the the time/pressure
    curves tested on top brand and a much cheaper one. 
    From the curve you can see, 140s for top brand, and 200s for the cheaper one (43% slower). However if count the time spend on preset process, the total time would be longer than 2nd Generation  – Manual air down tool with gauge.


  • Accuracy: Also, same as speed, the deflator can be made to be accurate. But they varies a lot from brand to brand.
  • Difficulty in Manufacture: it’s a little difficult to make them perfect. it’s why there is so big difference on performance between brands. It requires high precision lever for all parts, to make sure the deflator shut down immediately when reach preset pressure.
  • Price: 15$~100$ (varies by speed, accuracy, brand, appearance)
4th Generation – Adjustable automatic tire deflator kit:
  • Operaion: this type of deflator is often called adjustable tire deflator or PRO tire deflators. you don’t need to spend a lot time to preset the pressure as generation 3 does. It only takes seconds to adjust the pressure you want. Usually, it is adjustable from 10psi ~30psi.People only need to adjust presure, then screw on to start, scew off when it stops.
  • Speed: theoretically, can be the fastest, because 4 deflators works at a time. But, this type of tire deflator from different brands has quite difference on speed.
  • Accuracy: Also, same as speed, the deflator can be made to be accurate. But they varies a lot from brand to brand.
  • Difficulty in Manufacture: the most difficult to make. It has pressure scales on the deflator. So, it also need to ensure that scales indicate the right pressure.
  • Price: 60$~120$ (varies by product structure, accuracy, speed, brand, appearance).

The list shows the difference between types of tire deflators:

Comparsion Between different types of tire deflators

Please aware that different brands may have totally different performance in speed and accuracy. The data listed just show you what should be in theory. If you often go for offroading, or challenging different terrains, then 4th Generation is your best choice. They really can help you a lot if you own a brand who can guarantee performance.

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