Product Test – ARB CKMA12 Portable Air Compressor

Testing the ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor.

TYRE PRESSURES are a key part of offroading, so you need to be constantly lowering and raising them. You could use a hand or foot pump to put air back into your tyres, but an 12v electric version is so much easier. We’ve run ARB’s CKMA12 for about seven years now in two cars..here’s the long-term verdict.

Portable air compressor

12v air compressor, available as a portable or a vehicle-mounted unit.  Runs off a pressure switch so you just switch on and it pumps when you connect to your tyre.

We like…

Speed.  It’s a quick little unit, only taking a couple of minutes get a 265/70/17 tyre from 15psi to road pressure.  The hose is easily coiled, yet also can be pulled straight without undue tension on the valve. The valve connector is high quality and fits the valve well.  There are a variety of connectors, for example inflating balls.

The compressor itself is small and its components can be adjusted to fit all sorts of small compartments, important these days for those cramped engine bays.  There’s an optional extension hose for trailers and the like.

The hose pops off easily should it be required. In the case of the Ranger below the compressor lives behind the rear seat and the hose is permanently attached, coiling up and around the compressor. With the Discovery (cover photo) the hose detached and was kept under a front seat.

The compressor has been 100% reliable.

Not so good…

The portable unit comes in a box that could be made quite a bit smaller.

The bottom line

Can’t go wrong with this one!


Also consider

Cheaper units exist, but lack the features and quality. Never buy a cheap, no-name compressor as it’s just not worth the hassle when it breaks.  A vehicle-mounted unit is easy to access and operate, saving valuable time in the cold and wet, means it cannot be forgotten, and it can be mounted where it takes up little space – behind the seats in the Ranger and under the bonnet in the Discovery.  On the other hand, a portable unit can move easily from place to place, and there’s no work or expense required to mount it.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper