Best Air Compressor Oil to Keep It Running Like A Dream

Researched & Written by Craig

An air compressor is a machine that gets used in a whole variety of industries. You can use one to pump tires, to drive pneumatic power tools, and to paint.

However, air compressors are costly and because of how vital they can be, you really don’t need them quitting on you at the wrong time. Proper maintenance and the use of proper air compressor oil will help avoid this.

A lot of people don’t know that compressor oil is a thing! Well, it is, and it is quite different from regular motor or engine oil. Using this regularly will keep everything in the compressor running smoothly like it should.

It’s understandable if you don’t know much about which compressor oils are best for your machine! That’s fine, we’ve all been there, and that’s what this article will fix! I’ve put together a number of options that are likely to fit you perfectly!

So, let’s get right into it.

The 4 Best Air Compressor Oils

Best All-Around Air Compressor Oil

Ingersoll Rand All Season Synthetic Lubricant

Ingersoll Rand has been around for over a century, and in that time, they’ve made a number of different tools, including air compressors. With that level of expertise, who else would be better to make compressor oils than them?

Unfortunately, with such prestige behind the brand, you’re getting quite a big price tag on a single litre of compressor oil. This synthetic oil comes at about four times the price of other brands on this list!

This compressor oil is specifically designed for Ingersoll Rand machines, so if you have one of those, this is the official choice. That doesn’t mean you can’t use this with any other compressor brand.

This is an all-season ISO 68 oil, so it works nicely regardless of the temperature.

If you’re using your air compressor normally, this compressor oil is rated to last 2,000 hours of use before you need to change it. Even though the price is high, you should surely get good use out of it.

ProsCons
Works great regardless of seasonExpensive
Rated to last as long as 2,000 hours on one oil change
Well-suited for Ingersoll Rand compressors

Our Verdict

If you don’t mind spending something extra for a high-quality compressor oil, or you have an Ingersoll Rand compressor, this is the perfect fit for you.

It is a high-quality oil which will serve you well regardless of the season. The longevity a single change gives is enough to make me overlook that hefty price tag compared to alternatives.

Most Popular Air Compressor Oil

Powermate Px Full Synthetic Air Compressor Oil

Some oils are completely synthetic, some are entirely natural, and others are a blend. In the case of this Powermate Px compressor oil, they pride themselves with the fact that it is 100% synthetic.

The benefit to this, according to Powermate, is how it provides a lot more protection against wear than blend oils do. That, of course, means more use from your air compressor. That’s always a good thing.

This is an all-season oil, rated at ISO 68. Even at freezing temperatures, this oil will perform better than a lot of its competitors. If you need to keep your compressor healthy in the winter, few oils will do it better than this one.

The fact that it is the most affordable compressor oil on the list doesn’t hurt either!

ProsCons
Very affordable
Works very well in the winter and cold climates
Increased wear protection

Our Verdict

For those colder climates, this is a fantastic option. It is an all-season oil, so it is not meant for the cold alone, but it holds up better than most of the competition at below freezing temperatures.

It surely doesn’t hurt how affordable this compressor oil is. You can get four bottles of this for the price of one Ingersoll Rand bottle.

They also pride themselves that this oil will protect your compressor’s mechanisms against wear better than others.

If you need a compressor oil for cheap, then this is the best one to go with.

Best Small-Container Air Compressor Oil

Campbell Hausfeld Compressor Oil

Okay, that’s enough about synthetic oils for now. This is what we consider to be ‘classic’ oil, which is more of a natural product.

If a quart or litre of oil is too much for you, then you might prefer something half that size. At 16 ounces, this is the smallest bottle of oil on the list. It comes around the same price as some of the other larger bottles, so that’s less value in terms of quantity.

This oil is an ISO 100 oil, so it is about equivalent to SAE 30. This is more viscous than the earlier two items on the list. This means it is suited better for warmer temperatures.

This might not be synthetic oil, but don’t worry. There are no detergents in this, so you won’t need to worry about carbon build-up.

ProsCons
Works nicely in warm temperaturesPrice for quantity is a little high
Smaller container is easier to keep handy
Good choice for Campbell Hausfeld compressors

Our Verdict

Personally, I always go for as much as I can get, but I know some people who want small containers. They are easy to take around with you, and you really don’t need more than one can hold in a single sitting.

If you use a Campbell Hausfeld compressor, it is natural to want to use this oil in that. I’d recommend that too! Not just for some fun aesthetic, but I’d assume that during testing, the efficacy of the oil is tested on their in-house pumps!

This oil should work great for most seasons, though it may thicken when things get too cold.

Best US-Made Air Compressor Oil

Royal Purple Synthetic Compressor Oil

This is an eye-catching container for compressor oil. But then, with a name like Royal Purple, any other color of bottle would have been a huge missed opportunity for the brand.

This is an affordable one-quart bottle of synthetic compressor oil. And one thing that will make it an absolute winner to many people is that it was made in the United States. There are good products out of other countries, but there is a level of quality that we have been made to expect from US-made products.

It’s no different with Royal Purple. This is excellent compressor oil. You get quieter and longer-lasting performance when using this. This is an SAE 30 oil (which is about equivalent to ISO 100). This means it about as viscous as the Campbell Hausfeld oil above, and more viscous than the first two items. You can assume good performance is warmer weather, but it may suffer a bit if things get too cold.

Regardless of your air compressor brand, this one should work smoothly.

ProsCons
Well pricedMay suffer a bit in cold weather
Made in the US
Allows for smoother, quieter operation

Our Verdict

My favorite thing about using Royal Purple oil is how you can notice the change in the way your compressor works after using it. Especially in terms of sound. It is so easy to notice that it gets quieter.

For one quart, the pricing is alright. It is not hard to pick this up on a whim because of that.

The only issue that you might possibly run into is how it performs in very cold temperatures, due to its viscosity.

And of course, the fact it was made in the US doesn’t hurt at all. It makes this even easier to buy.

Can you put motor oil in an air compressor?

Most motor oils are not the best choice of oil for an air compressor because they contain detergents. These are meant for combustion engines, where detergents in the system have their benefits.

In an air compressor though, it’s not such a good idea. These detergents can cause the build up of carbon inside the mechanism.

There are some motor oils which do not have detergents, so these can work for an air compressor if you’re in a pinch.

I really recommend sticking to compressor oil at all times though. There’s not much of a price difference, and you’ll be keeping your machine as healthy as you can.

What oil viscosity do I need for an air compressor?

As you probably know, viscosity refers to the consistency or thickness of a fluid. A system has been made to easily judge the viscosity of oil, and that is the SAE (or Society of Automotive Engineers) number.

For compressor oil, you want to use either SAE 20 or SAE 30 oil, where the latter is the more viscous of the two.

If you live in a cold region, then it is better to go for SAE 20 compressor oil. Those who live in warmer places should use SAE 30. This is based on how the viscosity may change depending on the weather.

ISO is also another standard for determining viscosity. Oil which is anywhere from ISO 32 to ISO 220 is optimal for use in air compressors.

You want your oil’s viscosity to be just right so that nothing gets damaged.

Conclusion

Choosing between compressor oils can be tough. There’s not too much to set them apart, and you might only really notice the differences after using them for months.

Despite that, when you do use them that long, it can be clear when you have a winner on your hands. To make this easier for you, I’ll give you my top two recommendations here.

Top for me has to be Royal Purple. The difference in how your compressor runs is noticeable pretty much instantly. Paired with the okay pricing, it is hard not to recommend.

After that, I have to say the Powermate oil. It’s all-season, so no worries about using it in the winter or summer. The price is a major selling point too, and the only reason I’m putting it above the Ingersoll Rand oil.

Well, there it is. Everything you need to know about getting quality compressor oil running through your machine. Hopefully, you’ll find one of these that fits your bill perfectly.