What Kind of Oil Should You Use For Your Air Compressor?

Air compressor plays a very important role in our daily life and it is always nice to have an air compressor around. Although selecting air compressor oil is a chore and you might wonder what kind of oil you should be using. You will find specific oils made for compressors but deciding between the standard and synthetic blends, different weights, and different manufacturers is where you will get confused. Moreover, if you’ve never changed the oil on your compressor then your first question will be what kind of oil to use for air compressors?     

Oil You Should Use for Air Compressor

Usually, compressor manufacturers will recommend a 20 weight or 30 weights (non-detergent) compressor oil. You also can use a standard or synthetic blend compressor oil, if the manufacturer states it is possible to do so. But it’s best to stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid voiding the warranty.

Oil Lubricated Compressors vs Oil-Less Models

Oil-lubricated air compressors normally have long engine life over oil-less models. You don’t have to change the oil in your air compressor that often. But you should change it once in a year.  

Oil-less air compressors, on the other hand, don’t require any type of oil to be added to the engine. This is because it is coated and remains sealed. However, the life span of oil-less compressors is less than the oil-lubricated air compressors.  

Compressor Oil vs Motor Oil

Compressor oils are exactly designed for compressors and it is a non-detergent type of oil. Motor oils, on the other hand, have some type of detergent in it. So motor oil may be the right choice for an internal combustion engine but for a compressor, it is not the best choice. Moreover, motor oil causes a lot more carbon build up in a fairly short amount of time.

Manufacturer’s warranty is another aspect that you should consider while selecting oil for your compressor. Because most of the compressor manufacturer’s warranty guidelines prefer compressor oil and if you use non-specified oil like motor oil then you might void the warranty. So it is best to use the compressor oil from every aspect.

Synthetic vs Standard Air Compressor Oil

Synthetic and standard both type of compressor oil works perfectly on the air compressor. But which one you should choose depends on how long or often you are using your compressor. If you are using a compressor for home works or you are not really using your compressor a whole lot then you should use standard compressor oil. Standard compressor oil is much cheaper than the synthetic oil and they are perfect for light and medium use.

Synthetic compressor oil is for people who use their compressors on a more regular basis infect professionally. Synthetic compressor oil keeps your compressor safe from overheating and it has a wider temperature range for colder environments. This type of oil makes the compressor run a lot smoother and a little bit quieter.      ​

Characteristics of Compressor Oils

Air compressor manufacturers each have their own recommendations about what should and shouldn’t be used with their machines. Eventually, these are the guidelines you want to follow. They provide the basic requirements for the type of compressor oil to use and may include guidelines for higher performance.


The textures of the oil are known as the viscosity. Many referred to it as the weight of the oil. Higher viscosity means the oil is thicker while a lower viscosity means its thinner. Generally, oils with a viscosity of 20 or 30 are used in the air compressor. Make sure you use oil of right weight as too thick or too thin oil may not work well in the machine and could cause it to shut down.

Temperature Range

Temperature range is another important measurement for compressor oils. Because, if the temperature range of the oil is not appropriate then the air compressor will not work perfectly. Heat can also be generated from the air compressor itself. So it’s best to use oil that’s intended for that temperature range to help it last longer and work more effectively.


Additives are a common ingredient of oil. Oils with extra additives are not beneficial to infect harmful to your air compressor. However, there are some types of additives that help the motor of the compressor resist corrosion or prevent rusting. You will find this type of additives included oil in many commercial stores.

Bottom Line

Finally, make sure you use oils that are detergent-free. Any non-detergent 30w oil is perfect as long as your air compressor is working. Remember investing in compressor-specific oil does not cost much and it ensures the maximum life span of your air compressor.

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