Painting a car or any other vehicle isn’t the same as painting a piece of wood.
Mechanics and even enthusiastic car owners will require proper tools (like a sprayer and an air compressor), just as they require proper paint to change the color of their vehicles.
An air compressor is a device used to boost the performance of a paint sprayer so that the final result should be a good uniform vehicle finish that appears to have come straight from the factory.
This article is for you if you’ve been searching the market for the best air compressor, as we’ll be looking at 5 of the greatest bang for your dollar.
Air Compressor Considerations Before Buying
Choosing the most fantastic compressor to satisfy all the painting demands is critical, and you must invest in the proper device.
As a result, it’s critical to take a rational, systematic strategy before making a purchase. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing an air compressor.
a) The type
Air compressors for spray painting your car come in various types.
While it’s hard to cover all of them at one time (and it doesn’t make sense for most), the most common ones you should know about include the following:
- Pancake air compressors – low profile and are relatively small and lightweight
- Hot dog air compressors – slightly larger tank size that can handle larger paint jobs
- Pontoon compressors – robust with higher tank capacity and are good for lengthy painting jobs
When choosing, remember that a decent air compressor for painting vehicles should be compatible with most paint sprayers and deliver constant airflow to the paint you use.
b) Pressure & CFM
The compressor’s PSI and CFM are also significant factors to consider.
PSI stands for pound per square inch and represents the rate of air pressure, whereas CFM stands for cubic feet per minute, representing the air delivered by the compressor at a given pressure.
If you use an airless sprayer, you need a high PSI compressor. While more CFM is preferable to what the spray gun demands. If not, it will not work well and may spatter, leading to an uneven covering.
c) Size of the tank
Another critical factor to look at before purchasing is the compressor’s tank.
The tank aids in storing high-pressure air, allowing it to provide the necessary boost during times of high demand.
As a result, the larger the tank, the more air it can hold within, which will guarantee you have adequate air to power paint guns quickly.
d) Longevity & convenience
If you carelessly use your air compressor frequently or for demanding applications, such as automotive spray painting, it may only last for a few years.
Fortunately, most devices on the market today are built of durable materials like solid stainless steel or pure aluminum. So, buying a branded product with a proper warranty is good.
You must also consider the weight of the compressor and its portability. Heavier models will be more challenging to move, but this will not be an issue if you want to keep them permanently in one spot. If not, choose a lightweight model.
Top 5 Air Compressors for Spray Painting Cars and Trucks
Once you have considered all the factors above, picking the air compressor for your vehicle painting will be easy. Here are a few tops models you can look at…
1. CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, Pancake
Without a doubt, this is one of the best air compressors for modest car spray painting projects.
It has a maximum air pressure of 150 PSI and a maximum output of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI.
This means you may use it to power instruments that don’t require a lot of power, such as air ratchets, touch-up paint guns, and tiny impact wrenches.
The machine is not very heavy and easy to carry, weighing only 32 pounds it has a 6-gallon tank, which is insufficient for high-performance projects.
Aside from modest painting jobs, the Craftsman CMEC6150K may also be used for vehicle repairs, fastening, inflating, cutting, drilling, etc…
You can effortlessly move this air compressor from one location to another thanks to its pancake form and ingenious handle design.
Aside from these fantastic capabilities, Craftsman goes a step further by offering a 13-piece accessories pack, which includes a 25-foot hose, tire gauge, and a tire chuck.
It gets an even better deal with its 1-year warranty. On the negative side, several consumers complained that it was a little loud.
- The pump doesn’t need any oil
- Easy to maneuver
- Comes with an accessory Kit
- There is some noise.
- Tank capacity is insufficient for more demanding equipment such as impact wrenches.
2. Northstar Electric Air Compressor – 3.7 HP, 60-Gallon Vertical Tank
This can operate on either 120 VAC or 230V/240V through a single phase 208 to 240-volt selector switch which is constructed well enough to not build heat within the engine and offer a clean and uninterrupted delivery of the air.
Depending on how frequently you use your equipment, the one-piece cast iron oil-lubricated pump will be long-lasting.
With a maximum RPM of 3,450 for the 230V model and a maximum speed of 920RPM with 135 PSI air pressure, you’ll have more than enough power at your disposal.
- The capacity of 60 gallons
- 90 PSI air pressure
- Running efficiency of three cylinders
- operates at a considerably lower temperature
- Made to last with protected moving parts
- The tank pressure gauge and switch are both convenient
- Not the most peaceful of the bunch
3. Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon Electric Air Compressor
This air compressor is designed for speedy and professional car painting at home.
All thanks to its 4.7-HP, 155-PSI from the high-powered 15-Amp motor, and a large 14-CFM airflow at 90-PSI
Furthermore, it has a capacity of 80-gallon, which lets this single-stage three-cylinder air compressor work non-stop.
- Integrates well with most automotive spray paint guns.
- A reasonable degree of noise
- Built to last a lifetime
- Quite heavy
4. California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free and Powerful Air Compressor, 2 HP
This is the ideal option for enthusiasts who don’t want to overpay for an air compressor they’ll just use for light bodywork.
We’re talking about those who repair cars as a hobby and anybody else who enjoys periodic undertakings, such as painting once a month or at weekend and only for a few hours.
It’s oil-free, which makes its maintenance easier and less expensive, has a respectable 10-gallon tank and can provide 125 PSI pressure.
- It charges quickly
- Very simple to use
- The wheels are not very sturdy
5. Senco PC1010 Portable Hot Dog Air Compressor
It is a tiny air compressor with a one-gallon tank capacity. In addition, the air production rate is 1.4 CFM. It is not suitable for heavy use.
This device is primarily designed by the manufacturer for home users for their car maintenance. But you can also use them for jobs such as crafts and hobbies.
The device is not only compact but also low in weight. It is so light that you can carry it with your hands. Yes, it weighs roughly 20 lbs. That means it’s also very light and portable.
The majority of compressors are designed to perform jobs quietly. Nevertheless, the majority of them make far more noise than they should.
However, this compressor is not like the others. It is so quiet that you would never guess that it’s even running by just the sound.
- Not very heavy
- Easy to carry
- The operation is completely silent
- Not suitable for use with heavy-duty hobs
What to Consider Before Buying an Air Compressor?
Single vs. Two-Stage Air Compressor: What’s the Difference?
Air compressors can be either single-stage or two-stage.
Single-stage air compressors have one piston that compresses the air as it moves up and down.
Two-stage air compressors have two pistons, with the first one compressing the air to a lower pressure before the second one takes over to further compress it to the desired level.
Two-stage air compressors are generally more expensive than single-stage models, but they are also more powerful and efficient.
If you plan to use your air compressor for heavy-duty applications, such as automotive spray painting, a two-stage model may be a better option.
However, if you only need an air compressor for light-duty tasks, a single-stage model should suffice.
Oil vs. Oil-Less Air Compressor: Which One Should You Choose?
Air compressors can either be oil-free or oil-lubricated. Oil-free air compressors do not require any lubrication, which means they are easier to maintain.
However, they tend to be less durable than oil-lubricated models and may not be suitable for heavy-duty tasks.
Oil-lubricated air compressors require regular maintenance, but they are more powerful and longer-lasting.
If you plan to use your air compressor for demanding applications, such as automotive spray painting, an oil-lubricated model may be a better choice.
What Kind of Oil Does an Air Compressor Take?
If you have an oil-lubricated air compressor, you will need to use the correct type of oil to ensure proper lubrication.
Most air compressors require standard 30-weight non-detergent motor oil.
However, it is always best to consult your air compressor’s owner’s manual to be sure.
You should also change the oil regularly to prevent buildup and ensure smooth operation.
How Much Does a Good Air Compressor Cost for Automotive Spray Painting?
Air compressors come in a wide range of prices, depending on factors such as size, power, and features.
However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $200 for a good-quality air compressor that is suitable for automotive spray painting.
For example, the California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free Air Compressor is available for around $130.
This particular model is suitable for light to moderate use and comes with a number of features that make it ideal for automotive applications.
If you need something more powerful or plan to use your air compressor more frequently, you may need to invest in a more expensive model.
However, even the most expensive air compressors should not cost more than $500.
Ultimately, the best way to determine how much you should spend on an air compressor is to consider your specific needs and budget.
There are a number of great air compressors on the market, so you should be able to find one that meets your requirements without breaking the bank.
The best air compressor for automobile spray painting evaluations above contains something for everyone, from professionals to weekend warriors.
Choose the tool that best meets your requirements and gives your car a showroom finish that you’ve always desired.
Make sure that the one you choose is compatible with the most common types of HVLP paint spray guns.
Based in Orem (Utah) John Paterson graduated from Utah Valley University and has begun writing in 2009. He has a large wealth of experience in writing articles related to cars, automotive repair, wheels, cleaning/maintenance, and much more. He has also written instructional articles in a similar niche for a few online publications as well. Currently, he works as a mechanic in his personal garage shop where he loves serving his countrymen from his heart.