questionswhich 12-volt air compressor do you recommend?

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I should also add that I've sneaked a peek and their vehicle has a 20 amp cigarette lighter, so they won't have the problem some reviewers reported regarding inadequate amperage.

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Do you just want to fill tires with this compressor or are you looking for one that can drive a nail gun and other pneumatic tools?

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@cengland0: I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. They just need a portable unit to keep in their vehicle for emergency situations. They might want to use it to fill bike tires, balls, etc., but they aren't in need of the power required by pneumatic tools.

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@gionotIn that case, you picked a fairly good unit; however, since this is for emergency use, I'd recommend one that can double as a battery jumper too.

I couldn't find the model that I have on amazon but I did find this one.

http://www.amazon.com/Wagan-400-Watt-Starter-Built-In-Compressor/dp/B000GPV2QA/ref=sr_1_2?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1353504573&sr=1-2&keywords=compressor+with+battery+backup

Unfortunately it will put you over budget because it's close to $100 but I know I found mine for $80 at home depot. Perhaps you could get an even better deal if you wait until Black Friday.

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@cengland0: Agree with that recommendation. I'd put my vote in for this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Energizer-84020-All-In-One-Jump-Start-Compressor/dp/B0030B2N10/

I've been toting this one around for about 2 years now, and have been very happy with it. I've yet to need it, but it feels very good to have in the back seat. It has a work light, compressior, jump start, as well as an inverter and 2 12V accessory outlets. And I can check the battery level with a press of a button.

The one downside is that it is rather large and somewhat heavy. I have a Chevy Avalanche, so room in the back isn't much of a problem, but if they have a small car this might be an issue. I realize this is over your budget (like double) but it solves more than just having a flat on the road.

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Don't forget to include a can of Fix-a-Flat with the new air compressor, and remind your friend to keep the spare aired up too :D

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@cengland0 and @wilfbrim Thanks for your suggestions, but I'm looking for an air compressor and not a multi-function solution. Among other reasons for my choice, the compressor I linked to is at the upper limit of my budget.

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@aphroat: I'm not comfortable with using Fix-a-Flat myself, so that purchase would be left to them if they want to carry a can. They do check their spare, but it is hard to reach and they were trying to avoid having to deal with tire changing at a remote location at dusk.

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I bought the VIAIR 85P that I linked to in my question. It looks good, and seems sturdy, but I don't think the recipient has really gotten a chance to test it out yet, so I can't vouch for its effectiveness.