Air compressor Oil Guide: Chose the right oil for your Air compressor

Oil lubricated air compressor is famous among their users for their various advantages. These compressors are powerful, quiet, and long-lasting if you have taken care of them properly. But the optimal performance of an air compressor depends on its oil. Choosing the perfect oil isn’t accessible if you haven’t any idea about air compressor oil. Here, I will give you a guideline about air compressor oil. My Air compressor oil guide will give you the answer to all questions about air compressor oil.

To ensure that your air compressor will perform at its most efficiently whenever you need it, you have to choose the right oil. The right air compressor oil will help your air compressor to run smoothly. This article will help you to select the oil for your air compressor. To know more about air compressor oil, follow my writing.

What Is Air Compressor Oil?

When you use your machines, they damage slowly. Sometimes machinery oils can prevent these kinds of internal damages. So as air compressor oil. For a suitable compressed air installation, compressor oil is an essential element. This oil is formulated from highly refined paraffinic base oils and high-performance ingredients to provide excellent lubrication in various rotary and reciprocating air compressors.

Air Compressor Oil Specification

  • Heat absorption: When you run your air compressor, it becomes hot. But air compressor oil is very beneficial here. It absorbs the heat produced from compressed air and helps keep the compressor at a cooler temperature.
  • Oxidation resistance: air compressor oil formulated with some small particles. That helps to delay the acid formation and the oxidation process also.
  • Longer life span: The high-performance ingredients of air compressor oil protect machine stuff when on standby, and keep the lubricants balanced with various conditions.
  • Viscosity in cold temperatures: Some oil’s performance is abysmal in cold temperatures. But the air compressor oil performs its best even when the temperature drops.
  • Demulsification: Compressor oil has some ingredients that help to separate water. It helps to protect the compressor from oil and water emulsion. Then the oleophilic bag captures the fat easily.
  • Anti-foaming abilities: sometimes foam produces when giant air bubbles come up on the oil surface. This creates oxidation because it exposes more oil to oxygen. Air compressor oil has anti-foaming abilities.
How is the lubrication of the reciprocating compressor carried out?

What Does Air Compressor Oil Do?

Air compressor oil lubricates the pump components. It keeps the compressor pump cool. Air compressor oil prevents the air compressor from wear and tear. Air compressor oil helps the air compressor to perform smoothly. This kind of oil has some additives that prevent oxidation and rust.

Air compressor oil also helps to remove carbon deposits from air compressors pump. Usually, the air compressor oil comes in contact with cylinder oil, piston, crankshaft, and arm inside the compressor pump. During operations, it minimizes friction and carries off heat. 

Types of Air Compressor Oil

The air compressor oils are-

Standard Oil

Standard oil is mineral-based oil. Some people know it as a mineral oil also. This oil is least expensive than other oil. Normal oil vapors soon and breaks down easily. That’s why you have to replace the oil often. Sometimes the oil filter will trouble you.

Another unavoidable problem with the standard oil is its oil-lubricated pump. This oil vapors so fast that it gets past the seal and inside the air chamber. So, as a result, you have to replace the oil separator filter regularly.

Synthetic Oil

Synthetic-based oil is synthetic oil. Synthetic oil runs longer than standard oil. This oil lasts 50% longer than other oils. It provides your air compressor system with excellent cooling capability. Synthetic oil doesn’t break so easily. This oil doesn’t evaporate soon also. It can remove bad things like carbon from compressors’ pump components.

If you use synthetic oil you do not need to change oil frequently. It will protect your compressor from overheating. But it is more expensive than standard oil.


Oils are divided basically on their viscosity. The most common grades are SAE 30 air compressor oil and SAE 20 air compressor oil. If the number is higher, then the density will be higher. You should know your air compressor oil grade. Manufacturers recommend oil grade for every air compressor.

Which Type of Air Compressor Oil Should I Use?

If you are using an oil-lubricated air compressor then you need to choose an oil for your air compressor and you must take care of many things. But it’s better to follow the user manual for air compressors. In the air compressor user manual, the type of oil appropriate for the compressor and the grade of oil are mentioned clearly. It will give you some primary idea about oil.

But usually, standard oil is suitable for light and medium-duty operations. Where synthetic oil is better for continuous use or heavy-duty operation. Here is a problem, most of the air compressors’ user manuals state that you can use standard or synthetic whatever you want. In this circumstance, to choose the oil, you have to consider a few factors-

Size of your project:

Standard oil is good for you if you want to work on DIY or small projects. Traditional oil is suitable for general home projects and light use.

In a big project where you run the air compressor for an extended period, synthetic oil will be the better option.

Grade of the oil:

Regarding oil grades, the most recommended for compressors are SAE 20 or SAE 30 air compressor oil for viscosity. But in cold weather, lighter ones will perform well. Otherwise, you can follow the compressors user guide.

Non-detergent oil:

Whatever you decide to use in your compressor, standard oil or synthetic oil, make sure that it is non-detergent oil. If there is any detergent in your oil, it’s not suitable for your compressor.

Lubrication System FOR AIR COMPRESSOR

Lubrication System FOR AIR COMPRESSOR

What’s Special About Air Compressor Oil?

People can think that any motor oil is enough for an air compressor. But it’s not right. Here is a remarkable thing about air compressor oil: no detergent. If the oil contains detergent, it’s suitable for some machines for removing dirt. But it’s not the same for the air compressor. Here detergent can cause the opposite action. 

Substitutes for Air Compressor Oils

Now you know that air compressor oil is specially made for air compressors. It maintains a formula that is good for your air compressor. If something happens and an emergency comes up, you can use substitute oil if your regular air compressor oil is not available. But you have to use it at your own risk because it can be awful for your air compressor. Sometimes it can damage your compressor also.

Before using the substitute oil, drain your oil tank or reservoir. Mixing two oil will be worse for the compressor. Remember that substitute oil cant be a long time replacement. It’s only for temporary use. Try to reserve your regular air compressor oil more to avoid these situations.

Air compressor oil substitutes are- 

Automatic transmission fluid: 

Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is used for cars. But there are also some types of automatic transmission fluid you can use in compressors. This kind of fluid has some advantages. It prevents wear and tears from the compressor. This fluid helps to keep the compressor’s components cool. Sometimes people run an air compressor run continuously, and it produces heat. ATF makes sure that the compressor will not stop for any reason. Whatever it is not the ideal fluid for your air compressor.  

Motor oil: 

If you have motor oil available for your car, it can be a better substitute for your air compressor oil. Before using it, be careful about something.

It’s good if your motor oil is non-detergent motor oil. Detergents are nasty for your air compressor pump. Please use the same grade of motor oil as your compressor oil.

Hydraulic oil:

Hydraulic oil has some good qualities, making it a good substitute for compressor oil. In cold temperatures, it maintains lower viscosity. No example of oxidation can keep your air compressor from rusting.

How Much Oil Does your Air Compressor Need?

The oil requirement of your air compressor depends on your air compressor’s size and type. Sometimes the amount of oil the compressor needs rely on its specific model. an air compressor’s oil capacity range is approximately 6 ounces to 1 gallon. Please follow the user manual, or you can check the level also.

Checking the Oil Level On an Air Compressor

There are two ways to check the oil level on an air compressor. One is sight glass, and another one is a dipstick. There is an oil fill cap, and you can see the sight glass near or below this cap. Most of the time nominal oil level has reached when the oil is visible to the center of the sight glass. In the dipstick, the desired level should be visual.   

Checking air compressor oil

The result of Overfilling Air Compressor’s Oil

The result of overfilling the air compressor oil reservoir is not good. Excessive oil can leak during the operation of the air system of your air compressor. As a result, it will contaminate the air supply system and damage the internal component. That’s why you should not add too much oil. 

If excess oil vapor is in the air system, it will foul the valves, the air and oil separator system will be over-saturated, and will interrupt the application you use for your compressor. Sometime your air hose will spit oil.

If you pour too much oil accidentally, it’s not a problem until you turn on the compressor’s pump. Checking the oil before running the air compressor is good. If the oil level is too high, drain some oil to reach the required level.

Is It Good to Change Your Air Compressor’s Oil Often?

Following the manufacturer’s recommendation will be good if you want to change the air compressor oil. There are some instructions for changing the air compressor oil. After every 1000 hours of service, changing your air compressor oil is a general rule. But if you choose the standard oil, you should change it more often. It’s a good habit to count your air compressor’s service hours. If you use your compressor light to moderate, you can change the oil every year. If you regularly use it more than three days a week, change your oil every six months.

Standard and synthetic oil are two types of air compressor oil. These oils prevent overheating and extra maintenance and help to perform efficiently.

How To Change Your Air Compressor Oil?

Best oil for your air compressor

Oil lubricated air compressors are powerful. But the air compressor will perform its best if you choose the right oil. Choosing the right oil for your compressor follows the user manual. Manufacturers suggest which is the best oil for your compressor. Because air compressor has different size and types. There are different types of oil for different types of air compressors. The size of the project is also essential when selecting oil for your air compressor. People use Standard oil for light to medium work projects. Synthetic oil is for heavy-duty tasks, especially when your air compressor runs continuously. 

How to install a compressed air system in your garage or workshop?

How to install a compressed air system?



Can I use 10W30 oil in my air compressor?

The 10W30 is not an air compressor oil. It also contains detergent. So,10W30 is not appropriate for any air compressor. The 10W30 is engine oil. Engine oils are different than air compressor oil. The viscosity, formula, and lubrication process are different. Besides these, the 10W30 has detergent that can damage the air compressor badly. So, you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for your air compressor oil.

How much oil do I put in my air compressor?

We know that air compressor oil helps to run the air compressor efficiently. But excessive oil is not suitable for your air compressor also. Every air lubricated Air compressor has a certain amount of oil requirement. To know your air compressor’s oil requirement, follow the air compressor user manual. Sometimes manufacturers mention the oil limitation and also recommend specific oil for the air compressor. Or you can follow the label also. The Air compressor has oil sight glass. There is a dot sign middle of the sight glass. Suppose the oil level should be in the middle of the dot. If the oil level is under the dot, you have to pour more oil into your air compressor. If the oil came to an upper level of the dot, you already have added more oil. Remember that overfilling and underfilling the air compressor oil can damage your air compressor.

What kind of oil do I need for my air compressor?

To run an oil-lubricated air compressor efficiently oil is essential. There are two types of air compressor oil. These are standard oil and synthetic oil. But which is appropriate for your compressor depends on several things, such as the air compressor’s model, the machine’s type, and the temperature. Every air compressor has a user manual. It’s better to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for air compressor oil. But standard oil evaporate faster and breaks down soon, while synthetic oil lasts longer.

What’s the difference between air compressor oil and engine oil?

The air compressor oil and engine oil are not the same things. They have some differences-
The air compressor oil doesn’t contain any detergent. Detergents are very harmful to air compressor pumps. While engine oil or motor oil has detergent, it’s an important element of engine oil.
Air compressor oil has some additives that help keep the air compressor pump cool and prevent overheating. At the same time, motor oil has not enough cooling ability.
There are some differences in the viscosity of these two oils also.


Air compressor oil is an essential element for oil-lubricated air compressors. Air compressor oil is the key to operating your air compressor at its most efficient. It lubricates the air compressor system. Air compressor oil helps to prevent overheating during operation. But choosing the right air compressor oil is a difficult task. You should know some necessary factors about air compressor oil. Because you can not use any random oil on your air compressor, it can also damage your machine. For good service, you have to take care of your compressor also. I hope my article will help you to decide on oil. 

Standard and synthetic oil are two types of air compressor oil. Air compressor oil prevents overheating and extra maintenance; it helps to perform efficiently. Read this Air compressor Oil Guide to learn more.

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