I've known about it for a while, but I've been hesitant to pull the trigger because it's not cheap, it's just a small cordless device, and I've had my doubts about its effectiveness.
However, trying to maintain proper tire pressure in the Cobalt SS/SC with extremely limited access to a compressed air source has finally gotten me to part with my scarce greenbacks.
Follow along with the image gallery below to see what I think of Ryobi's cordless wonder.
Tool in the Box
Here's the tool, still in the unopened box. It's only the tool. The required battery and charger are separate. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Just the Tool, Ma'am
This is the Inflator in all its glory. It's compact — about the size of eight of my fists — and weighs about 2.8 lbs. So, very portable — and just the right size for taking on road trips provided you have the space like in an SUV or van. It would be a bit large for the Cobalt and I.
It also happens to fit nicely in a small living space like mine, so, bonus for apartment dwellers. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
The Starter Kit includes two 3Ah Lithium+ HP batteries, a compact Fast Charger, and a nifty bright lime green carrying case you can't possibly lose anywhere. It might be bright enough to shine through solid objects. The Inflator was at one point available as a kit with a 2Ah battery and charger, so these should in theory provide more battery life — which is good since it often takes at least a couple of efforts on each tire to get the pressure exact. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Okay, not a lot. The Inflator was good to go out of the box, the batteries needed some charge time and then I just popped one in place in the base — you can see the plug-in in the photo. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
The 3.0Ah Lithium+ HP Batteries in the Starter Kit are more than just pretty blocks of go juice — they also have a charge life indicator on the front of them. Just push that little green button and the bars on the left light up to tell you how much life is left. It's pretty simple, there are four bars and the first one (the shortest) indicates there's 10%-25% left, the second is 25%-50%, the third is 50%-75%, and the last and largest is 75%-100%. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Here's the battery locked into the charger — although, not actually charging in the photo. The batteries took about an hour and fifteen minutes a piece for their initial fill-up of wall juice. That was from a 10%-25% charge state — although not as immediate as a plug-in air compressor, that's way more convenient than unburying a small compressor that's attached to a large, awkward tank, wrestling it around, going on a hunting expedition for an extension cord, fighting through shit on a bench — piled to the ceiling — to get to a plug-in, then finally getting the compressor warmed up only to blow the fuse every couple of minutes until I find all the potential sources of power draw throughout the house on the circuit. Best of all, the batteries didn't blow the breaker charging. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Good to Go
This is it, the Inflator and battery assembled and ready to inflate tires. The battery sits snuggly up under the chassis and is easy to remove and replace when needed. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
I read quite a few customer reviews online before I seriously considered the Ryobi 18V One+ Dual Function Inflator/Deflator. Although the vast majority were very positive, one of the areas that people complained about was the plastic lever on the air chuck of the high-pressure hose. Although I didn't have any trouble with it for this review, there have been a number of people that have complained it breaks. I can tell you from handling it that, while it didn't break on me, it isn't the sturdiest design. I plan to be careful when installing it and not forcing the air chuck clamp on or off if it's resisting me. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
The only readout on the Inflator is an un-calibrated digital pressure gauge that allows you to both read the tire pressure and set the shut-off pressure for the automatic filling function. When done, check your tire with an accurate tire gauge. I prefer to check them cold, and not in any direct sunlight to maintain relative accuracy. If you want to take it a step further, grab yourself an infrared temperature gun and check to make certain they are all the same temperature, that way 32 lbs is 32 lbs for every tire. After all, unlike water, air expands with rising temperatures, and contracts with cooler, thus altering tire pressure. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Putting It to Work: Topping Off the Cobalt SS/SC
Cobalt SS/SC Tire #1: Driver Front
On the negative side, as mentioned above, there isn't a gauge on Ryobi's Dual Function Inflator — only a digital readout. There is a manual mode, but you can also set the pressure you want to achieve and let it do its thing. This tire was under-inflated by a whole pound — there's no wonder why the Cobalt was driving like crap. After I dialed in an effective shut-off pressure — in this case, 36 psi, it took the Inflator about 30 seconds to top off the tire. There are numerous warnings in the manual about general and specific safety when using this product like eye and hearing protection (so be sure to read it thoroughly before using your new toy), but it also states you should remain ten feet away when the Inflator is running, and to give it a break for ten minutes after every ten minutes of continuous use — this thing isn't an air compressor capable of anything approaching heavy use, nor is it intended for a professional environment. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Tire #2: Passenger Front
As you can see on the gauge, the passenger side front tire was also down a pound. Another 30 seconds and it was topped off. Then I screwed up setting the pressure with the gauge, so a second attempt to top off the tire was needed to set it right. I was pleased to find out the noise level on the little Ryobi Inflator wasn't very obnoxious — much quieter than even the new "quiet" compressors I've tested that are on the market right now. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Tire #3: Passenger Rear
This tire was down only half a pound. Of course, the rear tire pressures aren't even remotely as touchy as the fronts on the Cobalt with these Michelins — at least as far as effecting handling goes. It took about the same amount of time as the other two to top off and the Ryobi Inflator wasn't showing any signs of strain. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Cobalt SS/SC Tire #4: Driver Rear
This last one was down a pound and a half, but the Ryobi Inflator didn't miss a beat and for about 2 minutes and 45 seconds of filling time (including the initial test and the failure to set the pressure correctly on the second tire), the Inflator finished topping off all four of the Cobalt's tires with nary a whimper. In case you were wondering, the reason I set the Inflator to 36 psi as the shut off point was to give me some slop room. The digital read out on this specific inflator was off by about a pound and as mentioned above, there was some air pressure loss getting the air chuck off of the valve stem. It ended up leaving about 34 psi in the tire with the air loss when I removed it — give or take about a half pound. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
As you can see in this photo, after topping off all four tires, the battery still shows four bars of life, so it didn't even drop the 3.0Ah Lithium+ HP Batteries below the 75% threshold. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Putting It to Work: Pumping Up the LX
Since the Cobalt was the straw that broke the camel's back, you might be wondering what got me to start looking into a cordless tire inflation solution in the first place. For quite a while, I've been in need of something to pump up the tires on my stored vehicles so that I can move them around from time to time — and I don't mean top off the tires. Because of the strenuous level of output and my doubts about their effectiveness mentioned above, I wasn't willing to spend a good-sized chunk of money I needed for other things just to test whether or a cordless inflator could manage to pump up the tires on my project cars that I'm not working on.
As you can see in the photo, the LX isn't going anywhere. All four tires are completely flat — which means that not only are they out of air, but they leak. We'll see how well the little Inflator manages this job — or rather, we'll see if it survives this job. I won't be surprised if it isn't up to the task, but, even if it succeeds, it may very well take a considerable amount of time with the ten minute break it has to take for every ten minutes it works. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Mustang LX Tire #1: Driver Front
Here we go.
I set the tire pressure to 36 psi for the automatic stop — just like with the Cobalt SS/SC — and let it do its thing while I stood nearby with my phone in stopwatch mode to make sure the Ryobi Inflator didn't over tax itself. FYI, I'm still using the battery from the Cobalt test. It still had four bars of power before I started using it for this test, but I brought the second fully charged battery as back-up. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Mustang LX Tire #1: Success
Before starting, the driver side front tire was at 0 psi. I was satisfied to see the Inflator managed the entire operation in just under seven minutes. Obviously not nearly as fast as using an air compressor, but it worked without breaking.
Just to be on the safe side, I decided to give the little Ryobi Inflator some time to cool down before moving on to the next tire. My thinking was that if it needed 10 minutes of rest for every 10 minutes of use, that would be a 1-to-1 ratio so I targeted seven minutes, but ended up giving it eight because I went and got a bottle of water. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Mustang LX Tire #2: Passenger Front
Faced with another completely flat tire registering 0 psi, I set up the Inflator and let it go to work. After another nearly seven-minute stint, the passenger side front tire was fully inflated and ready to roll.
So far so good — but, even with the eight-minute break it got, this one was a few seconds slower than the one before. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Mustang LX Tire #3: Passenger Rear
I gave the Ryobi Inflator another seven minutes to cool off before putting it to work again — but it still showed signs of getting tired.
I don't know if the battery getting down to two bars of charge had anything to do with it, but it took nearly seven and a half minutes to get this tire up from 0 psi to the automatic shut-off of 36 psi.
At this point, it could be anything slowing it down — including more air escaping the leaky tire — but it was showing a trend of tiring as the job wore on.
To be fair, it says right in the instructions and on the box that this tool isn't intended for professional use and asking it to keep chugging filling up tire after tire is asking a lot more of it than just topping a set off or pumping up a single flat. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Mustang LX Tire #4: Driver Rear
I wouldn't have guessed from looking at it, but this tire had around 3 psi in it.
Of course, based on the comparison to my tire gauge with the Cobalt test, previously, that could mean 2 psi, but no matter, this one had some pressure left over. In theory, that should have meant a faster pump-up time.
In fact, even after another healthy eight-plus-minute cool down, it still took just a tick over seven and a half minutes to get the job done.
It did, however, get it done. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Here my '93 Mustang LX sits on four inflated tires — something it hasn't experienced in years.
All told, the procedure took right around 53 minutes to complete. So, if you plan on doing this yourself, expect it to take some time. And remember these are low-profile performance tires, not larger classic car tires or great big truck tires. Either of those scenarios could add some considerable time to the job, may require a second battery, or may even be too much for the little Ryobi Inflator — I just don't know.
Although I would have liked it to have been faster and not seen the little Inflator grow weaker as it went — for whatever reason — it's a win in my book. I can finally pump up the tires on my stored project cars and move them around as needed — should I ever find myself in the fortuitous situation of working on them again. Photo: Ryan King, 2019.Click image to enlarge.
Sure, this review includes just two tests, and it doesn't tell you how long the Ryobi 18V One+ Dual Function Inflator/Deflator lasts, but, I'm pleased with this little guy. And as of the publishing of this review, I've used it several more times and it's still working (or I wouldn't have posted it). I'm definitely glad I bought it, especially since it's small enough to fit in a tight living space.
Okay, glaring omission — I didn't test the high volume, low pressure inflator/deflator function of the Dual Function Inflator/Deflator. Why? It wasn't my reason for getting it. I only need it for automotive use and specifically to pump up my tires. Also, I have nothing to test it on. I can tell you that it turns on when I switch it to that side, and that it will blow debris off of stuff, but beyond that, I got nothin' for ya. Sorry.
Finally, this review isn't a replacement for reading the instructions that come with the products, please be sure to read the manuals for all the products in this review thoroughly to keep yourself, others, and your property safe — and to help keep from damaging or destroying your new toys, of course.