My car had recently developed a slow puncture, pinging up the warning light every 3-4 weeks and prompting a trip to the local supermarket or filling station for a top-up. It had a habit of going ping when I’m commuting to work early in the morning, never the best time. So I thought I’d invest in a tyre inflator to keep in the boot of the car so I can top up at my leisure, at least until I inevitably have to get the tyre repaired.
There are dozens of tyre inflators available, some with digital readings and some with traditional analogue dials. What very few of them do is have the safe-guard feature of being able to set the desired pressure and the machine turns off when it reaches it. It is this functionality that swung me towards the Ring RTC1000.
Ring, not to be confused with the Ring who make smart doorbells, are something of a specialist in the tyre pressure market so I was confident in the brand. The inflator arrives in its storage bag that also contains some protective gloves which are ideal for protecting you from the filth on your wheels and valves (although I’ve long been an advocate of just wiping my fingers on my jeans but that’s just me). Opening the bag you find the inflator, and at a quick glance you could mistake it for a defibrillator. It has a large blue digital display that shows the current pressure reading and your target pressure, plus a status indicator across the middle. You set the desired pressure using the yellow dial below the display, pressing it in to confirm your selection. At the bottom of the machine is a big “On” button, which begins the inflation process. In the centre is a button that illuminates the light found on the right-hand side of the device, and a moulded depression for placing your valve caps. On the left is a recess which contains the inflation tube and connector, and on the underside is an enclosed reel that tucks away the 3.5m long power cable which can be quickly wound away when finished.
In operation, the Ring RTC1000 is easy to use and although noisy as you would expect from a pump it isn’t offensively loud. As you’re likely to be running your engine while operating the inflator it’s not much worse than the sound of your car. Both the power cable and inflation tube come out quickly and easily. The power cable is easy to wind back in, but you need to manually manipulate the inflation tube back into the recess. On the end of the inflation tube is a screw-on fitting that attached to the valve on your car’s tyre to enable a hands-free inflation. Just behind the fitting is a pressure-release button to allow you to adjust the tyre pressure without unscrewing the inflation tube.
There is always going to be a question mark as to how accurate the reading is on these home inflation machines. When you first screw on the inflation tube it’s important to wait a few seconds for the display to finish taking its initial reading. Occasionally I found that the inflator would go up to the desired target, and then drop down by half a point. What I tend to do is set it for half a point (PSI or Bar) higher to compensate, and allow for any loss in pressure when removing the inflation tube. To get an idea of accuracy I compared readings on the Ring RTC1000 with those on my trusty little Rolson digital tyre gauge. Typically, I’ve found the initial reading prior to inflation to be identical, but 0.05 Bar higher on the Ring after inflation. My photos show before and after shots of readings from both the Ring and the Rolson. I would caveat this by saying I have no idea of how well calibrated the Rolson is either, it’s merely for guidance. Whatever, I’m satisfied that the margin of area is acceptable.
Other notes I’d make is that realistically you’d never store your valve caps in the depression on the device as they’d fall out the moment you moved the whole lot to your next tyre. Also, a minor quibble, the light for me is on the wrong side. As a right-handed person I would crouch with the wheel to my left so as to bring my right arm across towards it (in a forehand-tennis shot approach). The torch is therefore shining in the wrong direction as I’d need to have the tyre on my right side (in a backhand approach) which doesn’t make it as easy to screw on the inflation tube.
In summary though, I think the Ring RTC1000 is a very good digital tyre inflator and does everything I’d ask of it. A few minor points remind me it’s not perfect, and it is quite expensive compared to others, however the auto-stop function to me is a valuable safety feature and if I had my time again I still believe I’d buy the Ring RTC1000.