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Why Arm Your Tacoma with an Air Compressor?

Why Arm Your Tacoma with an Air Compressor?

The world of trucking today is jam-packed with all sorts of wild aftermarket accessories. After flipping through the pages of a catalog or browsing the inventory of your local aftermarket supplier, you’ll see that you can literally outfit your Tacoma to do anything. One particular accessory that will make your Tacoma super-versatile is an onboard air compressor. As you know, pneumatic power goes a long way in any shop. On your Tacoma, it can do just as much for you.

Shop Tacoma Onboard Air Compressors

Onboard air systems add superior versatility to your Toyota Tacoma. Having the ability to air up tires after an afternoon off-road ensures you don't add unnecessary wear to your tires. Pakcing air tools in case of emergency repairs is yet another use for an onboard air system. The possibilities are endless.

Tacoma Onboard Air >

What is an Onboard Air Compressor?

Whether it’s located in your shop or mounted on your Tacoma, an air compressor is an air compressor. It’s a pressurized tank filled with compressed air or CO2 that is used to give you pneumatic power on demand. The purpose of an air compressor on a truck serves a variety of purposes and is generally much smaller than the one you would find in your shop. You will also find that you can purchase two primary types of compressors for your Tacoma: basic and prefilled.

Basic Type: Basic air compressors use electric power to fill the tank when the capacity reaches a low level. The system uses a motor to suck in and compress air from the atmosphere. To run this system, you will need to tap into the vehicle’s electrical system. The biggest drawback to this type of compressor is just that; it siphons power from your Tacoma’s electrical system. It will also accumulate moisture over time and will need to be drained of the water that builds up every so often.

CO2 Pre-filled: With compressed air tanks you will have the option of purchasing a prefilled tank. By purchasing a tank filled with pure CO2 you eliminate the odds of fighting with moisture build up in the system. You also won’t have to run any electrical components to the system for operation. Though, with these tanks, you will not have an electric motor there to refill the tank once it reaches a low point. This means that you will have to swap tanks or have them refilled periodically.

What Can Compressed Air Be Used For?

Depending on the type of compressed air tank you plan to use, its purposes will change. Basic tanks and CO2 tanks usually don’t interchange when it comes to intended usage. For instance, basic tanks can be used to run tools and operating systems like helper springs and air lockers while CO2 tanks are a bit more limited. 

Helper Springs: Bellow type helper springs can be equipped to run a dedicated air compressor system that can be used to fill the bellows on demand. These types of compressors generally don’t serve as multi-purpose units. 

Air Lockers:  Pneumatic air lockers in the differential will require the use of an on-board compressor. These units will require a dedicated compressor system that will not be used for multiple purposes. 

Tools: With the use of an onboard air compressor, you have the option of running pneumatic tools from the bed of your truck. The type of air compressor you would use for this would be a multi-purpose unit. You could use a CO2 tank for these tools but don’t expect to get very far. 

Air Horns: A popular trend for truck owners is to equip their rig with air horns. Air horns will require the use of an air compressor to operate but the compressor itself can be a multi-purpose unit. 

Filling Tires: Having an air compressor on board to fill your tires with air is incredibly handy; especially for Tacoma drivers who transition from off-road to on-road driving frequently. A basic tank or a pre-filled CO2 tank is perfect for this kind of use.

Pros and Cons of an On-Board Compressor

Running an air compressor on your truck has a lot of benefits. But it also has as many drawbacks. The biggest reason you would want to run an onboard compressor is that you will have access to the use of tools, operating systems, and will have compressed air for filling tires on demand. The drawback is that they can take up quite a bit of space. For a lot of build types, this is a drawback. They can also require one to tap into the vehicle’s electrical system, which is less than ideal for some builders.


  • Opens doors for accessories
  • Fill tires on demand


  • Take up considerable space
  • Draw power from the vehicle’s electrical system

How to Set One Up

In order to run an onboard air compressor you have to set it up properly on your Tacoma. Some are smaller units that can be tucked away for storage, and then will use alligator clips to tap into the electrical system when they’re needed.

CO2 tanks are also generally portable units that can be stowed away when they aren’t needed. Larger tanks will need to be permanently mounted and the owner will need to run the electricals as required for permanent use.

The kits that require this will usually mount the compressor in the bed of the Tacoma or in the cab under the rear seat. Wiring instructions will be provided but the will generally consist of wires that simply run to the positive and negative terminals of the battery.

Accessories: If you intend to run a multi-purpose tank you will want to invest in compressor hoses, pneumatic tools, and chucks dedicated to filling tires. You will want an air chuck and a pneumatic impact wrench on board at the very least.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro