Air compressor oil vs motor oil /can I use motor oil in my air compressor

 Air compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

So! Whats your take on Air compressor oil vs motor oil ?  Air compressor is a modern invention that most people use to power multiple tools. It uses compressed air as the energy to drive these machines. However, an oil-based air compressor cannot operate without oil since it helps to reduce friction. So, one can be trapped in the paradox of air compressor oil vs motor oil or if they can use motor oil in their air compressor! The question always lingers a lot in various interfaces as choosing the right air compressor oil is challenging.

Though, one must be well vast with a specific oil that is viable to avoid jeopardizing the condition of their air compressor. Furthermore, I don’t wish for anyone to spend some bucks on oil that won’t be energy efficient for a certain task. Therefore, we are going to take you through all the oil-related questions in this article and clear the air of any doubts in your heart. 

You can also check our insights on the Best oil lubricated portable air compressor (Reviews & Buyers’ Guide)

Is There Specific Oil for Air Compressors?

Absolutely Yes! Air compressors use specific oil with certain properties. For instance, the air compressor oil must be detergent-free to avoid carbon build-up within the unit. If you try other types like motor oil you’ll damage your unit since they contain detergents. Therefore, every dealer always specifies the type of oil to use in your air compressor in the manual. 

Synthetic vs Regular Oil

The two types of oil are compatible for use in an air compressor, but they differ in price and efficiency. The most preferred type is synthetic oil as it is more refined and increases the air compressor service span. Synthetic oil works more efficiently with the air compressor and is reliable over a range of temperatures making it the best choice. You’ll rarely experience overheating issues while using synthetic blends. However, you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets since it cost more than regular blends. 

Therefore, the choice is yours! But you must know how often you intend to use your air compressor. If you are a professional you’ll be using it frequently therefore you must maintain its lifespan. That calls for synthetic blends. However, if it is for irregular home use just go for regular oils which cost less. 

Another property of air compressor oil is viscosity. This is the ability of the oil to flow in terms of its thickness. You’ll have two options either 30 or 20 weight oil. The 20 weight oil is lighter and is effective in colder climates while the 30 weight oil is heavier thus recommended for warmer climates. Therefore, choose between the two depending on the work environment climate. The 20 weight oil also increases the efficiency of the engine while the 30 weight oil helps to coat the engine better. All in all, you can use either of the two since the comparisons are minor. 

What Does Detergent Do Actually?

Detergent was first introduced in engines back in 1930. Their main purpose is to keep the hot metal components from deposits and for neutralizing the acids. Don’t think it’s the detergent cleaning work that we always know. On car engines, the detergents coagulate the particles from the metal pits and settle them down waiting to be removed during an oil change. So, one can ask the question, why not mix detergent with air compressor oil? Simple, the detergent will coagulate with the pitted metal particles which will be trapped in the filter leaving deposits within the pump. Besides, carbon build-up in the pump will reduce its efficiency and lifespan. 

How Often Should One Replace the Air Compressor Oil?

The manual states it all and that’s why I do advise my audience never to assume the manual. Many people use their experience failure to know that new devices are products of inventions that come with different applications. Moreover, air compressor oil change also varies with the model. But ensure a year does not pass without replacing the oil at least once. 

These are not cars that demand regular oil changes but try to check on the oil levels after every three months. You must also know the type of air compressor that you have as reciprocating air compressors require oil changes more frequently than rotary screw air compressors. Rotary air compressors might take longer since they incorporate oil recycling technology. 

Functions of Oil in Air Compressor

An air compressor as we mentioned earlier, is a tool that uses compressed air as the source of energy. Where there is energy, and heat as a form of energy must be cooled off. Therefore, oil performs four major functions in an air compressor, including cooling, lubrication, sealing, and cleaning. The continuous compression of air in the air compressor raises the temperature of the inner chamber, therefore oil serves as a coolant. Furthermore, the moving parts come in contact with each other, and oil is applied to reduce the friction and inhibit the parts from wearing out or corrosion. 

As the compressed air should remain tight, every leakage must be sealed. The metal parts alone cannot prevent air leakage and that’s where oil comes in handy to offer the sealing services. Oil can reach the smallest tiny parts as it is flexible to prevent air leakage. Lastly, oil is sticky and helps to trap the contaminant particles that the air filter cannot capture. It also traps the pitted particles from the metals thus increasing the compressor efficiency.

Recommended Best Air Compressor Oil

1. PowerMate Px P018-0084SP Air Compressor Oil

PowerMate Px P018-0084SP serves as one of the best air compressor oil in the market. It exhibits air compressor oil properties such as high viscosity. This provides lubrication by inhibiting friction to protect the contact parts from corrosion and wear out.

PowerMate Px P018-0084SP also ensures low noise operation and no smell. In addition, it contains oxidation inhibitors that ensure evenly distributed thermal heat. It does not evaporate in high-temperature conditions making it a good choice.

ProsAir compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

  • Highly viscous but pourable
  • Not affected by cold weather when starting
  • The oil can make old air compressors effective again
  • Eliminates noise


  • Forms sludge on the bottom of the unit


2. Campbell Hausfeld oil compressor

The non-detergent Campbell Hausfeld oil makes it a top performer among air compressor oils. It offers the highest quality and prevents the formation of valve carbon build-up. It has a 16oz MP12.

The oil can work in extreme weather conditions and is compatible with any modern air compressor. It has a life of 4 hours, but do not use it where the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit as it can ignite. 

ProsAir compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

  • Lacks unpleasant smell like others
  • Reduces noise level
  • Prevents overheating for longer working hours
  • Prevents corrosion thus increasing compressor lifespan


  • Pours out easily therefore you should be keen
  • You must keep on checking while refilling since it is transparent


3. Senco PC0344 Air Compressor Oil

Senco oil is preferable since it is durable and hydrophobic. It contains asphalt, hydrocarbon, and tar that make it corrosion resistant. 

ProsAir compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

  • No leakages
  • Maintains its properties with changes in weather conditions
  • Minimizes the air compressor noise


  • Requires regular change


4. DEWALT D55001 Air Compressor Oil

The synthetic DEWALT air compressor oil is durable thus can service your unit for a longer period. Furthermore, the oil works effectively under very cold weather conditions.

Besides, DEWALT air compressor oil is one of the most affordable brands in the market. Therefore, replacing it won’t vastly affect your budget. 

ProsAir compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

  • It is affordable
  • Offers excellent pump protection
  • Improves the efficiency of the pump.


  • The oil requires to be changed often.


5. Pro Silent VS-32

Another nice oil is the Pro Silent VS-32 which makes an old air compressor looks new again. It is efficient for both home and professional use. The oil increases the efficiency of the air compressor and protects it thus increasing serviceability. 

It ignites at high temperatures of about 770 degrees Fahrenheit while maintaining efficient lubrication. Moreover, the oil has great anti-corrosion and anti-foam properties that maintain your compressor for a long period. 

ProsAir compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

  • It does not have a smell
  • Helps the compressor to start easily in the first attempt
  • Applicable in all weather conditions


  • It does not seal all the gaps
  • It’s more viscous hence difficult to pour


6. PowerMate 018-0060CT

The PowerMate 018-0060CT is preferred since it does not affect people or any part of the compressor. It also offers maximum service under low consumption. You’ll notice no noise immediately after applying the oil. 

ProsAir compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

  • Maintains the color of the air compressor
  • Increases the efficiency of the unit
  • It protects the components from corrosion


  • Evaporates easily
  • Not applicable in cold weather conditions


7. Porter-Cable PXCM018-0080

The Porter-Cable PXCM018-0080 is good at replenishing the condition of an old air compressor. It is a synthetic non-detergent oil that maintains the compressor components for a longer period. 

Try it and you’ll see immediate performance!

ProsAir compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

  • The manufacturers offer faster delivery service
  • The oil is economical in terms of consumption
  • Has no unpleasant smell
  • Applicable in all weather conditions


  • Highly viscous hence difficult to pour out


8. Royal Purple 01513

The Royal Purple air compressor oil is highly synthetic meaning it protects the compressor components. It offers maximum lubrication and protects the parts from rust. 

ProsAir compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor

  • It is compatible with other oils
  • The oil is highly durable
  • It is easy to apply as it flows easily


  • It is not ideal for all models and brands


Wrap Up

You are free to choose any air compressor oil according to your model and preference. However, ensure that the oil exhibits properties such as a longer life span, experiencing fewer deposits, works in cooler temperatures, and is economical in terms of consumption.

Just ensure that you stick to air compressor oil and leave out the motor oil to increase the lifespan of your air compressor. You cannot use motor oil in your air compressor if you care for its longevity. Now you can freely choose between Air compressor oil vs motor oil/can I use motor oil in my air compressor?

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