Can You Put Motor Oil In An Air Compressor? [Complete Guide 2022]

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With the purchase of a lubricated air compressor, you automatically get a duty of lubricating the motor every once in a while. Most of the air compressor comes with a bottle of compressor lil to use on the motor. But what if the compressor oil runs out? Can you put motor oil in an air compressor? Let’s find out:

The first thing you need to know is why you should lubricate your air compressor regularly? As you know, an air compressor is a pretty heavy duty machine. It has a complex mechanism and runs by an engine or motor. So this involves a lot of frictions and heat productions while it runs. As a result, your air compressor might get damaged or get blasted due to overheating.

A lubricant effectively decreases the friction between the parts of the motor. So there is less chance of damage. Also, there is even no production of excess heat within the machine. As a result, your machine gets a longer life and can maintain a proper efficiency. Now the question is, what type of lubricators should I use in an air compressor?

Air Compressor Lubricator

Despite having almost the same lubricating mechanism, most of the engines, however, are not compatible with any lubricator in the market. The basic purpose of lubricating an engine is to reduce friction. But different factors change the suitable lubricants for different engines.

There are certain types of lubricants we usually use for engines and machinery. For example, mineral oil, synthetic oil, etc. The most common use of mineral oil includes lubricating hydraulic machinery. It has an incompressible composition, which makes it ideal for this task. 


The synthetic oils, on the other hand, is suitable for engines and motors. Synthetic oils have many variations and each variation is suitable for a specific type of engine. Like there are full synthetic oil and semi synthetic oil, which have different compositions and viscosity. But which one is suitable for air compressors?

While choosing a lubricant for your air compressor, you need to check for the viscosity requirement of your air compressor. Depending on the model and the engine capacity, different air compressor might need lubricants with different viscosity. Also, you really need to check the weight and the usual climate temperature of your region.

According to our experience, an SAE 30 weight works the best at moderate temperatures. If the usual temperature is between 30 F to 90 F, it will work most efficiently. For colder temperatures, we would definitely recommend lower SAE weight synthetic oils. Motor oils with an SAE 20 weight would work fine on colder temperatures. You can find many synthetic oils in this range on the market.

If you’re having a hard time figuring out all this, just buy a universal air compressor oil and stay risk-free. The Powermate PX P018-0084SP 100% Full Synthetic Air Compressor Oil is an excellent air compressor oil that we have been using for a few years. It can protect your machine well regardless of the temperature & viscosity, so you can choose this without a second thought.

Oil-Free Air Compressor

There are many air compressors that don’t need any oil change. These compressors are either lubricated internally or their mechanism does not need any lubricant at all. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of changing compressor oils, you can simply buy an oil-free air compressor. Check out our article on Best air compressor under 500 to find some amazing oil-free air compressors at a cheap price.

There are certain situations when you run out of compressor oil and immediately need to lubricate your compressor. Because a low lubricant level results in overheating issues and damages the machine eventually. But with an oil-free air compressor, there’s nothing much to worry about. The Craftsman Oil-free Air Compressor is quite an excellent air compressor where you won’t have to lubricate the machine, its efficient design will protect your tool without the usage of any oil.

Many of you have been asked if there is an alternative to compressor oil. Like so, some of us even wondered if we could use motor oil as an alternative to compressor oil. Accomplishing certain factors, you can definitely use motor oil in an air compressor. But how?

Can You Put Motor Oil In An Air Compressor?

Technically, the answer is yes. You can definitely pour motor oil in an air compressor. But the oil you’re using needs to have a certain composition and feature that makes it a great alternative to compressor oils. If the motor oil matches the viscosity and weight of your usual compressor oil, then you can use it!

For using motor oil in an air compressor, we would recommend using non-detergent motor oils. You should ensure that the motor oil is either 20 weight or 30 weight. Otherwise, it might not even work on the compressor and make a disaster.

One thing you should really keep in mind is, using motor oil is actually discouraged by air compressor manufacturers. You should only use the recommended compressor oils suggested by the company. Otherwise, you might lose your warranty.

So if you really in need of lubricating your air compressor but cannot find any compressor oil, you really need to check the facts first whether your compressor company allows it. If your company doesn’t have such rules and regulations, you can use motor oil without the fear of losing the warranty. If your air compressor brand doesn’t sell compressor oils separately, you can buy the Ingersoll Rand 10P Edge Series Premium Grade Air Tool Oil, which is also quite good like the one that we suggested earlier.

Anyways, you really need to know the right way of putting oil in the compressor. There are certain rules for using motor oil in air compressors, and you must follow the rules. Here’s how you can put oil/ change oil in an air compressor:

How To Change Oil In Air Compressor

Changing the oil in an air compressor is actually pretty easy. All you need to do is to warm up the air compressor. Because warming up the machine heats up the engine oil. As a result, it reduces the viscosity of the oil and percolates more easily.

For that, you can keep the machine under the sun for a while or run the machine for several minutes. After the machine gets warmed up, you can release the motor oil by opening the drain valve. Make sure to be careful at this moment because the engine oil might be hot. You can even tilt the machine to ensure all the oil has seeped away.

After all the oil has been drawn out, close the drain cap and prepare the new oil. Make sure to use the right oil for your compressor, follow our recommendation from above, or check the instruction manual of your compressor. 

Uncap the fill port and pour the air compressor oil into it. Fill the pot until it covers the red dot on the oil level marker. Do not overfill the port otherwise it may leak out. Again put the cap on the fill port and you’re done! Try to change the oil every year or every 3-4 months if you use the compressor more frequently. 

Bottom Line

So that’s all for our perspective toward putting motor oil in an air compressor. Make sure to be totally aware of the facts about this matter and take your decision as per your choice. Follow our easy tutorial on changing the oil too!

If you have any concerns regarding this topic, please leave your question down the comment section below. We will get back with the solutions as soon as possible. Until then, happy tooling!

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