3 Air compressor oil substitutes

Oil helps to cool the cylinder head of the Oil-lubricated air compressor. Oil extends the compressor’s life by preventing wear and tear. But selecting the right oil is important. When your regular oil is available it’s easy. If an emergency came up and air compressor oil is not available then it’s important to replace the oil. But if you are puzzled how do you select the air compressor oil substitute? Here is my article I will discuss air compressor oil substitutes.

Your machines will benefit if you select the right oil. Such as protecting from wear and tear, reducing energy consumption, and maximizing your compressor’s life span. I will show you the oil substitute that will make your air compressor unique. Oil will give your air compressor various facilities. Follow my article it will help to select the best air compressor oil substitute for your application.

What is Air compressor oil?

Oil lubricated Air compressors have various advantages rather to oil-free compressors. They are long-lasting, comparatively quiet, and low maintenance. Air compressor oil helps to lubricate the pump of the air compressor. 

When we use an air compressor it damages slowly. Adequate air compressor oil helps to prevent this kind of damage to machinery. Air Compressor oil is an essential element for a compatible compressed air installation. These oils are formulated from paraffin base oil. Air compressor oil contains high-performance particles that provide smooth lubrication to the air compressor.

Read: Air Compressor Oil Guide

What is an Air compressor oil substitute?

Air compressor oil maintains a certain formula that is suitable for air compressors. In an emergency, absence of your air compressor oil you can use substitute oil. But you can’t use any oil as a substitute oil. Air compressor oil shouldn’t contain any detergent and have to maintain a few conditions also. Remember that any oil substitute is not good for long-term use, use in emergencies only. 

Oil substitutes for air compressor

There are some common air compressor oil substitutes. 


ATF means the automatic transmission fluid. People use this oil in compressors as an air compressor oil substitute. But usually, ATF is used in cars. Automatic transmission fluid has some characteristics.

  • It is a hydraulic medium oil.
  • When the machine takes stress it helps to resist the breakdown.
  • It helps to keep cool the parts of the machines.
  • It reduces the wear and tear on the machine.

We know all of these characteristics support ATF as car oil. But As an air compressor oil substitute ATF helps to keep cool the air compressor parts. It supports the air compressor to reduce wear and tear also. But there are pros and cons to using ATF as a substitute oil.


  • When we run machines that produce heat. ATF prevents breakdown at that time.
  • Automatic transmission fluid protects from deterioration.
  • Sometimes Oxidation happens during the compression procedure but base oil and the antioxidants of ATF prevent this kind of problem.


  • ATF contains detergent. That can damage the air compressor.
  • ATF has a low viscosity. It hampers the lubrication process.
  • The manufacturer recommends oil for the air compressor during the warranty period. But using ATF at that time can invalidate the warranty.

Hydraulic oil-

Hydraulic oil is a good air compressor oil substitute for many people. Hydraulic oil is considered a good oil for its characteristics. 

Low viscosity: One of the good things is the low viscosity of Hydraulic oil at a lower temperature. Viscosity indicates the flow of the fluid. If any oil has a lower density it does mean that it has a lower viscosity and it flows more fluently.

Material: Hydraulic oil is suitable for sealant material and the air compressor is made with this kind of material.

Oxidation control: Hydraulic oil prevents your compressor from rusting. You can take hydraulic oil as an immune to oxidation. 

Hydraulic oil is a good substitute oil for your compressor. It helps to keep cool the parts. This oil is friendly in cold temperatures also. But it has some pros and cons.


  • Hydraulic oil prevents internal damage and rust in air compressors.
  • It helps to keep cool the parts of the compressor during stress
  • This oil provides a good amount of lubrication to your air compressor.
  • The best thing is Hydraulic oil is available in maximum hardware stores.


  • Hydraulic oil doesn’t contain detergent but it has zinc. 
  • Hydraulic oil is comparatively more expensive than other substitute oil.
  • It is not good for larger compressors.
  • It will void the warranty of the air compressor.

Synthetic Motor oil

Synthetic motor oil can be used as a substitute for air compressor oil. Synthetic oil is made from synthetic chemicals. Synthetic motor oil is popular as an air compressor oil alternative.

  • Synthetic oil can work in high and low temperatures.
  • Synthetic oils reduce the nose.
  • This oil protects the air compressor from overheating. 

Non-detergent synthetic motor oil is a good choice for compressor oil replacement. But there are some pros and cons of this compressor oil replacement.


  • Synthetic oil prevents the compressor from overheating.
  • Some manufacturers recommend a temporary alternative.
  • Synthetic motor oils are less expensive.
  • It is available in all stores.


  • Synthetic motor oil has limited viscosity
  • If you use synthetic oil the warranty can be void.


Other Considerations When Using Compressor Oil Substitute


If you using the air compressor oil substitute there is a disadvantage to a warranty. It is mentioned in some air compressors’ user manuals that, you can’t use any other lubricant for air compressors during the warranty period. Use manufacturer-recommended lubricant otherwise warranty will be void.

Mixing Lubricants:

Mixing lubricants can cause accidents. When you will change the oil or want to use the substitute then remember to drain the oil tank. Drain the previous oil then use the different oil.


Without any resistance how fluently the fluid flow is the Viscosity. When any fluid has a low density that indicates low viscosity and the fluid flows fluently. So, Using low-viscosity oils in cold weather and higher-viscosity oils in hot weather is good. If there are no hot or cold weather issues follow the manufacturer’s recommendation and try to use the nearest viscosity grade.

Different kinds of air compressors oil substitute

There are different kinds of air compressors available in the market. air compressors oil substitutes are also different. Here is some suggestion for air compressors oil substitute.

Quincy compressors oil Substitute

If you are looking for Quincy air compressors oil substitute consider the following features-

  • Choose the oil that will protect from wear and tear
  • Some oil protects your machine from corrosion and rust
  • For the Quincy compressor, you should choose low-volatility oil
  • Select the oil oxidatively stable
  • For controlling the carbon and varnish formation of the Quincy compressor select a good oil

Dewalt compressor oil substitute

Dewalt compressor oil substitute can be a lightweight synthetic oil. If an emergency came up and synthetic oil is not available you can use 30-weight non-detergent oil. Because detergent is not good for your compressor. But when you use your regular oil again, remember to drain the 30-weight non-detergent oil. Mixing up two types of oil can be dangerous.

Husky air compressor oil substitute

If you are looking for a Husky air compressor oil substitute, then choose a non-detergent oil. You can use SF-grade oil also. But remember automotive engine oil is not good for your air compressor. It can reduce your compressor’s longevity. But following the manufacturer’s recommendation for an oil substitute will be the wise decision.

How often should air compressor oil be changed?

There are some general rules to change the air compressor oil. After using 1000 hours you can change the oil. But following the manufacturer’s recommendation will be a wise decision when you think about changing the air compressor oil. Manufacturers have different suggestions for different machines. Which oil are you using is determine the time limit. If you are using standard oil, changing the oil often will be good. Counting the air compressor’s service hours is a good practice. Light to moderate compressor users can change the oil each year. If you regularly use your compressor then change the oil every six months.

Air compressor oil separator replacement

In the compressed air system performance of the oil separator filter affects directly the oil content, so it will be good if you replace the separator after a certain period of use. But the replacement of internal air compressor oil separator elements varies from compressor to compressor and the process is troublesome.

 The Replacement process of the oil and gas separator:

        1. stop the compressor and make sure that it has released the pressure. Then turn off the power switch.

        2. Now remove the minimum pressure valve connection pipe;

        3. After that, displace the tubing and other control pipes.

        4. Then remove the cover plate of the compressor’s oil and gas separation tank.

        5. Now extract the oil and gas separation chamber of your compressor;

        6. Now you can replace the new oil and gas separation chamber.


Can I use 10W30 in my air compressor?

10W30 is motor oil. We know that Air compressor oil needs special oil. Air compressor oils are specially made for air compressors. But in emergencies, you can use substitute oil for your air compressor. There are several things you have to consider if you are using substitute oil. One of these is detergent-free oil. You can’t use any oil on your air compressor. As an air compressor oil alternative, you have to choose a detergent-free oil. Here the 10W30 is not an air compressor oil. It is specially made for car engines. Besides this 10W30 contains detergent. Detergent is a harmful element for air compressors. For that 10W30 is not appropriate for the air compressor. You shouldn’t use it in your air compressor.

Is hydraulic oil the same as compressor oil?

Hydraulic oil is a very good air compressor oil replacement. It has a low viscosity. This oil provides excellent lubrication to your air compressor. It works well in cold weather also. Hydraulic oil is immune to oxidation. The features of hydraulic oil make it a good substitute for air compressor oil. But Hydraulic oil is not the same as compressor oil. There are a lot of differences between Hydraulic oil and air compressor oil-

  • Hydraulic oil has no detergent but it contains zinc. Air compressor oil has no zinc.

  • Compressor oils easily separate the oil. It has good water separability. But hydraulic fluid doesn’t have this ability. 

  • The additives usually used in any air compressor oil are not the same as hydraulic oil.

  • Air Compressor oil has some oxidation inhibitors that are different from hydraulic oil.

What can you substitute for air compressor oil?

Selecting a substitute for air compressor oil is not easy. If an emergency came and I have to substitute air compressor oil, I will select which is available and comparatively safe for my compressor. But following the manufacturer’s suggestion will be wise in these circumstances.


There is so many Air compressor oil substitute. But you can’t use anything in your air compressor. When you will select the compressor oil alternative you have to consider many things.The viscosity, Cooling ability, lubrication in hot and cold weather, detergent-free, safe additives, etc. After selecting the oil you can use that in your air compressor. But remember about the warranty. Following the manufacturer-recommended oil substitute is safe or your warranty will be void.