Choosing The Best Air Compressor Oil

Oil is an essential part of maintaining your air compressor. It’s vital that you only use oils specifically suitable for air compressors to avoid damaging your machine. Using the right kind of oil has a long-lasting effect on your compressor.

Buying Guide: Best Air Compressor Oil

There are a few aspects more important than others when purchasing air compressor oil. Compare these features within your budget range before you select the best air compressor oil for you.


It’s a measurement of your air compressor oil’s thickness. Which one do you think is better? The oil with higher viscosity or the one with the lower one?

There are generally two types of oils professionals suggest.  SAE20 and SAE30. The first one is comparatively thinner than the latter one.

If you live somewhere cold, SAE20 will be better suited for your compressor. In comparison, for warmer areas, SAE30 is a much better option. You must choose the oil of suitable viscosity, or you’ll end up damaging your air compressor components. 

Temperature Range

Even when the viscosity is compatible with your compressor, sometimes the combination goes wrong because of the temperature range. Areas with temperatures above 120 degrees F or lower than the freezing point can become useless to your machine.

Check the oil specifications and match them with your living area before you can buy the compressor. One other thing to remember is, your compressor also produces heat when running. So, consider it too before choosing the oil.


Many times, additives in an oil can be temporarily helpful to your compressor but damage it in the long run. Look what additives are used in the compressor oil. Make sure there aren’t any detergent additives in the oil.

Some additives, however, can benefit the compressor both instantly and in the long run. These are necessary to prevent rust and corrosion that can occur due to the friction between the inner components of your compressor.

Synthetic And Standard Oil

Both these oils are compatible with most competitors. So, which one should you go for?

Synthetic oils are more refined. So, you won’t need to change the oil very often. However, these oils come expensive.

Standard oils, on the other hand, will lubricate your compressor but require more frequent oil changing. But, they’re comparatively cheaper.

So, if you run a compressor for your home and do not frequently use it, we will recommend you go for a standard oil compressor. If you use your compressor for industrial necessities, you should go for synthetic oil.

5 Best Air Compressor Oil Reviews

Today we’ll introduce you to the best air compressor oil. We’ve rounded up the 5 best ones to make your unit run like new. We’ve compared numerous oils, and only five of them made our list.

Air Compressor OilTypeCapacityViscosity
Powermate PX P018-0084SP Air Compressor OilSynthetic1 quart20 weight
DEWALT Compressor OilSynthetic1 quart30 weight
Royal Purple Synthetic Compressor OilSynthetic1 quart30 weight
Campbell Hausfeld Compressor OilNon-Synthetic0.5 quart30 weight
Ingersoll-Rand Synthetic LubricantSynthetic1 quart30 weight

1. Powermate PX P018-0084SP Air Compressor Oil

Powermate synthetic oil triumphs over all other oils without a doubt. It reduces wear and protects the internal component from carbon deposits. The lubricant works excellently in both cold and warm weather, making it the number one oil on our list.


  • Extends Compressor Life: This high-quality synthetic oil prevents wear and protects the sensitive inner components from carbon deposits. Compared to other synthetic oils, it offers 25% higher wear protection and extends the unit’s life. It also makes your compressor run quieter by lubricating the metal parts.
  • Better At Low Temperature: Powermate synthetic oil performs 50% better than standard compressor oils at 0 degrees F. You can use it in all weather conditions to keep your compressor running smoothly.
  • All Season Appropriate: This oil performs equally efficiently in low and high temperatures. Moreover, it reduces heat generation that protects your compressor, regardless of what climate you’re operating it in.
  • No Additives: It’s a non-detergent synthetic oil. That means it won’t damage your compressor if you use it for an extended period. Additives can accelerate the air compressor’s performance initially but damage it in the long run.

What’s Good?

  • Non-detergent
  • Suitable for all-season
  • Reduces wear
  • Protects from carbon deposits
  • Extends compressor lifespan

What’s Bad?

  • It’s comparatively expensive than other oils.

2. Dewalt Synthetic Compressor Oil

Dewalt compressor oil, like all other Dewalt products, lives up to the brand name. Much like our best overall, this one can also work efficiently in a wide range of temperatures.


  • Premium Protection: Dewalt synthetic air compressor is a premium-grade oil to lubricate your compressor’s pump. It increases your machine’s durability without compromising the quality.
  • Temperature Tolerance: Unlike many other oils, it works efficiently in both hot and cold weather. Compressors can produce high temperatures when running continuously. Dewalt lubricant is made keeping the higher temperature in mind.
  • Prevents Wear: One of the primary responsibilities of an air compressor oil is to prevent wear. Dewalt lubricant, once put inside, does an excellent job of keeping your air compressor components working exactly they’re supposed to do.
  • Prevents Carbon Build-Up: Air compressor valves can build up carbon when there’s sufficient heat produced in the engine. Dewalt lubricant prevents that from happening and increases the air compressor’s lifespan.

What’s Good?

  • Increases compressor efficiency
  • Premium protection even in extreme temperatures
  • Allows the compressor an easy start-up in colder temperature
  • Once filled, it runs for 200 hours
  • Prevents carbon build-up

What’s Bad?

  • You can’t seal the bottle cap once used.

3. Royal Purple Synthetic Compressor Oil

One of the most loved compressor oil is Royal Purple. It’s synthetic and helps your compressor run quietly, cooly, and smoothly.


  • Easy Application: One thing that attracts users the most about Royal Purple is its easy application method. While other oils require a nozzle to put the oil inside the air compressor, this one comes with a narrow tip. Without any additional nozzle or funnel, you can insert the oil only by using the bottle.
  • Carbon Deposits And Wear Reduction: One of the significant factors determining whether a compressor oil is of good quality is its ability to prevent carbon build-up and reduce wear. In both cases, Royal Purple passes with flying colors. You can expect smooth operation from your compressor once you start using this oil.
  • Most Suitable: Air compressors featuring piston-type pumps are most benefitted from this oil. Moreover, it performs the best at high temperatures. You can expect it to reduce wear and improved lubrication.
  • Additive: Royal Purple compressor oil is famous for its Synerlac additive, increasing its viscosity. It reduces any annoying noise coming from your air compressor by lubricating the components. As a result, you get an efficiently running quiet compressor.

What’s Good?

  • Easily apply it with a pointy nozzle.
  • It’s compatible to be mixed with other air compressor oils
  • High filming strength of 100.
  • Resists wear
  • Reduces noise
  • Reduces friction

What’s Bad?

  • The oil separates from water slowly.
  • It evaporates quickly, making it hard to store

4. Campbell Hausfeld Compressor Oil

If your compressor doesn’t require synthetic oil to run smoothly, you can go for the Campbell Hausfeld compressor oil. It comes comparatively cheaper. If you own a small or medium air compressor, it’s a smart choice for you.


  • Affordable Price Range: Standard air compressor oils are comparatively cheaper than synthetic ones. If you don’t wish to spend much on your compressor oil, it’s a good one to go for. It performs excellently with a few limitations.
  • Versatile: As long as you don’t use the oil over 90 degrees F, this oil won’t disappoint you with its performance. It’s compatible with a wide range of compressors. If you live in a cold area, it’s a perfect compressor oil for you.
  • Performance: Campbell Hausfeld is a non-detergent oil, much like synthetic ones. It can prevent foam build-up, resist carbon deposits, and reduce wear by lubricating your compressor.
  • Additive-Free: It’s a transparent oil that does not include any additives. For the same reason, the oil doesn’t have any unpleasant smell. It quiets your compressor even though it has a low life span after application.

What’s Good?

  • Affordable price
  • Non-detergent
  • Reduces wear
  • Prevents carbon build-up
  • Compatible with various compressors

What’s Bad?

  • It doesn’t work in high temperatures
  • Low lifespan

5. Ingersoll-Rand Synthetic Lubricant

If you want an all-weather compressor oil, we would recommend you go for Ingersoll-Rand lubricant. It’s a synthetic lubricant that comes with rich features. 


  • Cooling And Noise Cancelling: If your compressor is making annoying noises even after applying compressor oil, you haven’t been using the right oil. Ingersoll Rand oil cools your air compressor, decreases friction between metal components, and makes your unit run more quietly.
  • High Viscosity: The oil works the best with small piston pump compressors. But the high viscosity allows the lubricant to penetrate even the tiniest gaps inside the machine. That results in running your unit more smoothly. It’s versatile and can be used for a wide range of compressors.
  • Excellent Performance: As for functioning, the oil makes sure that the carbon build-up is minimal. It performs four times better than any petroleum-based lubricant, even though the price range is on the higher side.
  • All-Season Oil: The oil performs efficiently in both cold and hot weather. It provides your air compressor with an easy start in chilly weather. Besides, it keeps the components cooler when heat is produced due to longer run times.

What’s Good?

  • Reduces wear
  • Prevents carbon deposits
  • Operates in all weather conditions
  • High viscosity
  • Cancels noise
  • Cools the compressor

What’s Bad?

  • Comparatively expensive

How To Change Air Compressor Oil?

Changing your compressor oil is a pretty straightforward job to do. However, many people don’t know how to do it. A little tip, check the manual because this method can differ from one air compressor to another.

  • Make sure your compressor isn’t on. Unplug it from the power source, even if the switch is off.
  • Take a pan, bottle, or container where you’ll hold the old oil.
  • Locate the draining valve. If you can’t find it, check the manual. It’ll most likely be on the lower side of the compressor.
  • Place the container beneath the valve and open it. Let the oil pour into the container.
  • It can take some time to become empty. If it’s possible, angle your compressor a bit to let the remaining oil out.
  • Once it’s empty, close the valve. Make sure you tighten the valve so that oil won’t drip out.
  • There’ll be an oil cap to insert oil into the compressor. The method can vary depending on the compressor. It’s best to stick to the manual for this one.
  • Use a nozzle or funnel to insert oil into the compressor. Keep monitoring the oil indicator to ensure that you don’t overfill it.
  • Close the cap, store your oil container in a secure place.
  • Dispose of your old well using the right way. Or, you can ask the local store if they take used oil.

Cautions To Use Air Compressor Oil

  • Prioritize the compatibility between the compressor and the oil. If the oil does not suit your compressor, you’ll only end up wasting your time and money.
  • If you rarely use your compressor, don’t go for expensive synthetic oil. Instead, buy a standard oil for your compressor.
  • While changing the oil, make sure you don’t stain the surface. Even though you’ll use a container, keep your compressor on something that won’t get ruined by oil stains.
  • If your compressor isn’t functioning smoothly even after lubricating it, chances are, something is wrong. Consult a local professional for help.
  • If you don’t understand how to choose, use, and change compressor oil, ask someone for help.
  • Always keep your air compressor in check. Look for leaks and get them repaired if there are any.
  • Store your compressor oil as it says on the instruction manual. Don’t ignore the manual because some oil can evaporate if not stored properly.

Air Compressor Oil Substitutes

It’s always better to go with an air compressor oil for your machine. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need a substitute, you can look for one of the following.

Hydraulic Oil

Hydraulic oil comes with a few features, making it suitable for compressors. In cold temperatures, it features lower viscosity. Low viscosity in cold weather means the oil can move freely through the components.

That is why hydraulic oil is a decent alternative to air compressor oil in cold temperatures. Besides, it doesn’t oxidate, making it suitable to prevent the compressor from rusting.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Mainly used for cars, automatic transmission fluid can also be put into air compressors. There are a few perks of using this lubricant.  It can reduce tear and wear and tear, for starters. Besides, it makes the components cooler when the compressor generates heat.

It also resists breakdowns and ensures that the compressor is working efficiently. Note that most ATFs won’t work on compressors.

Motor oil

You can only use motor oils that feature a non-detergent substance. Motor oils with detergents can help your compressor engine temporarily but end up damaging the unit by initiating carbon deposits.

These alternatives are only suggested as a temporary solution. Using these oils for a long time can damage your compressor as they’re not made explicitly for compressors. If you don’t wish to spend much money on oil, there are cheap air compressor oils with decent features that you can go for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:Do All Compressors Need Oil?

There are both oil-lubricated and oil-less compressors. However, oil-less compressors aren’t quite oil-less. Instead, they’re coated initially and don’t require lubrication again.

Not being able to lubricate a compressor means you won’t be able to recover it from wearing. That is why oil-less compressors come with shorter life compared to oil-lubricated ones.

As for an oil-lubricated compressor, with proper care, it can last a long time.

Q: What Air Compressor Oil Does?

Oil-lubricated air compressors require oil as a mandatory maintenance measure. Many people prefer oil-less compressors because they don’t want to go through with maintenance. However, oil-lubricated compressors are more potent than oil-less ones.

Oiling your air compressor allows you to get the best out of your machine. Some of the high-lighted benefits you can get are:

  • Low Noise Operation : even the powerful compressors can run quietly with the help of oil. The larger the machine, the louder it’ll sound. Oil can reduce the noise level to a tolerable level. The best airbrush compressors are oil-filled compressors.
  • Smooth Operation: oil lubricates the metal components of an air compressor. That means less friction and less heat production inside the engine. The cooler the unit runs, the more efficiently it can function. 
  • Durability: proper oil lubrication ensures extended lifespan for your air compressor. When you fulfill your air compressor’s necessity, it runs better and longer.
  • Oil also prevents rusting, corrosion, carbon build-up, etc., to keep the machine going with its best capacity.

Q: What features to look for while purchasing the best air compressor oil?

Look for viscosity, temperature range, oil type, and additives. It’s best to find an oil most suitable for your compressor, even though most oils are versatile. Mandatory features to look for includes performance, wear resistance, carbon deposit prevention, etc.

Q: How do I know if an oil is compatible with my compressor?

It’s better to check the compressor’s manual first. That’s where you start. Then, match the requirement with the oil’s features. If they match, you can undoubtedly buy that oil.

Q: Is it mandatory to buy the same brand of oil as my compressor?

Not necessarily. As long as the oil is compatible with your compressor, you can go for any brand you like. Besides, not all compressor brand offers lubricants. Go for a good-quality oil that improves the compressor’s performance.

Q: When to change my compressor oil?

You’ll notice your air compressor behaving out of the way when it needs oil changing. If it’s making noises and getting heated up more than it’s supposed to, it’s time to change the oil.

To ensure that the oil level is okay, monitor the oil indicator. Look for guidance in the instruction manual regarding oil level and monitoring. Avoid overfilling.

Q: How often do air compressors require their oil to change?

The frequency can vary depending on a few determinants. These determinants include temperature, air compressor size, oil type, and frequency of using the compressor. Standard oils need more frequent changes compared to synthetic oils.

Final Words

Oil-lubricated air compressors need their oil changed from time to time. It’s a huge part of maintaining your machine to make it more durable. The right oil can make your compressor the most efficient unit ever. On the contrary, the wrong oil will damage it beyond repair.

So, learn to take care of your compressor if you don’t want to waste the money you invested in your machine. A little care goes a long way. If you want to make the best out of your air compressor, don’t forget to buy the best air compressor oil for your machine.

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