Can You Put Motor Oil in an Air Compressor? – Right Ans

Latest Update On: December 22, 2020 | Author:

If you are about to change your air compressor oil, then you may have a very common question just like everyone: can you put motor oil in an air compressor? You also may be misguided as many people say that they have been using regular motor oil into their air compressor, that too without having any problem. But in this article, we will give you the right answer. It will guide you in the right direction and let you know about compressor oil.

What Kind of Oil is Safe for Use in an Air Compressor?

Although oil-free compressors are available on the market, most of the models use compressor oil for essential lubrication. The first thing that should be considered while choosing oil for an air compressor is the compressor’s requirements of oil viscosity.


For any compressor that operates in an environment where the temperature range is from 34o-100o F, experts recommend SAE 30 weight oil. For any colder condition than this, it is better to choose SAE 20 weight oil.

Some other things should be taken into consideration:

  • Non-detergent and inorganic ones should be preferred.
  • The oil should be able to protect the compressor from corrosion and rust.
  • The stability of the oxidation should be high so that it can maintain viscosity and enhance the service life of the oil.
  • It should have demulsibility, which means that it should be able to shed water.
  • It should be filtered sufficiently without evacuating the essential additives of lubricants.
  • If possible, then ensure to have oil with Monolec. It’s a wear-reducing agent that creates a singular molecular film on the metal surface.

When you are going through the manufacturer’s specifications, It’s important to choose compressor oil that will surpass the minimum requirements. As a result, you will get better performance and longer equipment life for your compressor.

Can You Put Motor Oil In An Air Compressor?

It is commonly seen that many people use regular motor oil in their air compressors. But there is a common concern regarding can you put motor oil in an air compressor? Don’t worry; we will clear your confusion here.

What Happens When You Use Motor Oil in Air Compressor

Using motor oil that is lying at the corner of your shop can be proved to be a harmful mistake for your compressor. Thus, we always believe using oil that is specially formulated for air compressors to be the better strategy.

However, you may be in a hurry and want to put motor oil in your air compressor to avoid inconvenience. Well, you can do that only if your compressor is engineered for using motor oil. You can easily find it out if you see the user manual.

An air compressor normally runs in such an environment in which the supplements in motor oil are not beneficial at all. Instead, they may cause severe problems as they do not go with the functioning condition.

Your air compressor may not break down immediately after you have used the wrong oil for it. But eventually, it will, really sooner than you can expect. And you can never expect any good performance from your compressor when you are not feeding it well.

What Happens When You Use Motor Oil in Air Compressor?

A regular motor oil and air compressor oil are far different from each other. Their properties vary depending on a few things. Therefore, it’s very much likely that your compressor will behave unexpectedly if you use motor oil as a substitute for air compressor oil.

What Happens When You Use Motor Oil in Air Compressor

Chemists formulate car engine oil specifically to function within a car. Some additives must be present in car oil for specific purposes, such as viscosity improvers, dispersants, detergents, etc. and, of course, base oils. As all the automobile engines usually burn fuel, that fuel may cause problems with motor oil. Thus, motor oil is formulated in a way so that it can deal with those issues.

However, the functioning environment of an air compressor is very different from that of a car, and additives in car oil do not help there, which makes motor oil very detrimental for an air compressor.

Using motor oil in air compressors may build-up carbon deposits. They may also build-up water, which may cause severe issues in some compressors. Emulsification can be generated as we know that oil and water never go together. As a result, the protective or lubricating characteristics of motor oil is reduced.

The pump will be left deposits, and its capacity and power will be reduced. As the conditions of these oils such as viscosity, power-point, the temperature in which they work best is not the same, which will cause the dysfunction of the motor oil in an air compressor. Finally, despite having an air filter, it is obvious that unknown oil will damage the quality of the compressed air.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Change My Air Compressor Oil?

You should change your air compressor oil at least once a year.

Can I use regular motor oil in my air compressor?

In a hurry, you can use regular motor oil in your compressor. But before you do that, see the manual and make sure your compressor is engineered for using motor oil.

Can I use car oil in my air compressor?

Yes, you can, but you never should as they will eventually lead your air compressor to die long before your expectation.

Final Thought

We hope that by now you are not unclear any more regarding the question can you put motor oil in an air compressor? Because every system is different and designed to use different types of stuff to operate properly.

The machine’s efficiency and life expectancy will surely be hard if we try to change those specific things. This matter is the same as an air compressor as well. Therefore, you should always use the oil recommended by the manufacturer if you want it to provide good service.

Jim Smith

Hello, this is Jim Smith. I am the owner of this website “power tool wiki” that will inform you about all the latest power tool machines like an air compressor, it’s related accessories and use and maintenance information. As a technical expert on this air compressor machine, I have a complete idea about its function and features. Not just because of a technician I know about this machine, I have been researching this machine for the last few years.

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