Is It Time for a New Air Compressor?
Updated: July 29, 2022.
Total cost: $499
Total time: Less than 2 hours
How do you know it’s time for a new air compressor?
If you’re the last guy to air up your tires after a day of off-roading, it might be time for a new air compressor.
If your current air compressor shakes violently and blows a fuse (preventing you from filling up your last tire), it might be time for a new air compressor. (True story.)
When I did my very first air compressor install on my silver Jeep Wrangler JK back in 2016, it was unplanned and unexpected. I thought the Slime air compressor, which I’d had for about 4-5 months at the time, was working just fine and was going to last a long time. (Not a true story.)
So, what did I get? I decided to get the ARB Compact Air Compressor (CKMA12). The air compressor price was $499, which isn't cheap, but not only is ARB a reputable company, the compressor came with a two-year warranty. So it had to last at least that long, right?
I was immediately impressed with the ARB compressor. It was HEAVY! My old compressor weighed just over three pounds, but the ARB model weighs almost seven. It just felt solid and built really well.
When I first opened the box for the ARB Compact Air Compressor, I have to admit, it was a little intimidating. Back then, I didn't have a lot of experience doing modifications and installing equipment on my off-road rigs. I don’t happen to have an engineering degree and I was worried that it was going to be a lot to figure out. But, not to worry it wasn’t and everything went well.
Here’s what came in the box with the compressor:
- Air filter pressure switch relay (for the wiring harness)
- Rocker tire inflator adaptors (just in case you need to inflate a basketball)
- Hardware mounting plate and…
- A monster of a mess of wires (the source of the intimidation).
In addition to the compressor itself, I also bought ARB’s compressor kit, which comes with an adaptor and plug. Everything in this kit was very sturdy–the hose and connections, just like the compressor, are very well built.
Another purchase was ARB’s tire inflator and I really like it. The gauge is very accurate and it has a nice metal hose that allows you to take air out of the tires as well as inflate them. You don’t even have to screw it on—it has a nice little clip that just clamps on and locks it in.
The last thing I bought was EVO’s compressor mount (part# EVO-1097), which is specific for mounting the ARB compressor on 2007-2017 Jeep Wranglers. It mounted right behind the brake booster and it was a nice, clean, and easy install.
Here’s what it all cost:
- ARB On-Board High Performance 12-Volt Air Compressor (CKMA12) = $321
- ARB’s compressor kit = $55
- ARB’s tire inflator = $67
- EVO’s compressor mount = $56
Before You Start
Before you get started installing your new air compressor, there are a few basic tools you should probably have on hand. Here’s what I used:
- Wrench and socket set
- Dremel with cutting wheel (optional)
The bolts that came with the ARB compressor weren’t meant specifically for a Jeep using this mount, so be prepared to either have two shorter bolts handy or cut them down yourself using a Dremel.
The entire install took under two hours and was pretty easy. Here’s what we did:
- Mounted the compressor to the bracket
- Installed the compressor and bracket
- Relocated the horn
- Hooked up the wiring to the compressor and battery
- Plugged in the relay
- Plugged in the pressure switch
- Ran the wiring for the power switch
Once all that was done, we turned on the power, and tested it out. We deflated the tires down to 20 psi and inflated them back up to 40 psi in about two minutes. Pretty nice!
I used this ARB on board air compressor for more than two years and it never let me down. I do a lot of off-roading and overlanding in Southern California’s hot and dusty desert and it performed well, even in 100+ degree weather. I used it at least 2-3 times a month to re-inflate my tires when coming off the trail and I even used it occasionally to air up some of my buddies’ Jeeps at the end of a trail run. Once, I even aired up 12 tires in a row with no problems!
ARB makes some of the best air compressors out there. They're durable, fast, hard-mounted, take up limited space, and reliable. The only reason I switched to the ARB Twin Air Compressor was because I upgraded to larger tires and needed a bigger compressor that could handle the extra volume.