Can I Use 5w30 Oil in My Air Compressor?

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I know there are circumstances where you need to change the oil of your compressor, and somehow, there is no more oil left except that 5w30. However, you should be wary of what oil you choose to pour into your compressor. You should ask yourself, can I use 5w30 in my air compressor without any bad effects?

Can I Use 5w30 Oil in My Air Compressor?

No, you cannot use 5w30 oil in your air compressor.  It does more damage than it provides. 5w30 oil contains detergents that aren’t good for air compressors. These detergents can cause damage to your compressor’s internal components.

Therefore, it’s better to avoid using 5w30 oil as much as possible.

5w30 oil

Detergent is bad for most types of compressors’ internal components since it emulsifies and will stick to the components. Technically, you can use 5w30 for the compressor. However, you would feel its effects later on.

If you already used 5w30 in your compressor, don’t use it again. Your valves might be compromised already, and you would have to spend on repairs to make them fully functional again.

What Is 5w30?

5w30 is a motor oil with the letter “W,” meaning winter, and the number 5 indicates its viscosity during cold temperatures. The number 30 indicates its viscosity during high temperatures. That’s how most motor oils are named.

Compared to other motor oils, 5w30 has a lower viscosity. Therefore, it’s mainly used for petrol and light-duty diesel engines. It won’t be great for compressor machines whose components aren’t compatible with detergent-based oils.

Types of Oil

Generally, you want an oil that is made for compressor use. With that said, there are also different types of compressor oil. Two types of oil are commonly used:

  • Standard oil
  • Synthetic oil

Standard Oil

Standard oil or traditional oil uses mineral-based ingredients and is natural. However, standard oil can break down fast and transform into vapor. Hence, you might have to change the air compressor oil more often than you want and increase your maintenance cost. 

They’re also generally bad for your compressor machine. Most standard oils contain emulsifiers mentioned already, damaging your internal components. Standard oil can also damage your compressor’s engine valve because it contains sulfated ash.

You would only want to use standard oil in cases of emergency. Other than that, you should not use it. Your compressor should be fine for one or two short-term uses. Just make sure to change your oil once you have the right oil.

Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil is made with synthetic materials. They can be made without non-detergent and is generally the better option between standard and synthetic oil. Non-detergent synthetic oil has great compatibility with heavy-duty air compressors.

Air compressor

Synthetic oil contains little to no amount of detergents and emulsifiers that can harm your compressor’s components. This oil is also considered by most to be cleaner than standard oil. 

With synthetic oil, you will spend less on maintenance costs since they generally last longer. You also won’t have many complications with the internal parts in the long run.

What Oil Type Is Good for Air Compressors?

Most compressor manufacturers recommend using a 20-weight or 30-weight non-detergent compressor oil. As stated above, you should pick the synthetic type rather than the standard one.

Only use the standard type if your compressor manufacturer recommends using one. Even then, you should still be skeptical about it. Still, use what is recommended if you want to avoid voiding the warranty of your compressor product.

How Viscosity Affects Your Choice for Air Compressor Oil

Viscosity affects how the oil would perform in certain temperatures. Depending on your environment, you may want to prefer a specific viscosity oil. Most manufacturers, in general, recommend 20-weight or 30-weight compressor oil.

30-weight compressor oil is better in places where there is high temperature most of the time. It is thicker, so the coating will last in hot weather and won’t evaporate compared to a 20-weight compressor oil.

For colder areas, a 20-weight is much better since a thicker oil might not be useable or not as effective. Thinner oil, like 20-weight, functions much better since it isn’t affected that much by cold weather.

Related Questions

Why Is Oil Used in an Air Compressor?

The oil is used as a coolant for air compressors. It will remove the heat generated during its operation. It also keeps your internal components safe from friction and wears and tear.

Is Air Compressor Oil the Same as Motor Oil?

Air compressor oil is not the same as motor oil. Compressor oil is specifically designed for lubricating compressor components. The main difference is that compressor oil does not contain detergents compared to motor oil.

What’s Non-detergent Oil?

Non-detergent oil is used for non-critical gasoline engines. These engines usually operate under mild conditions which do not require detergent and other protection.


You should try to avoid using 5w30 on your air compressor. It will be bad for your machine in the long run. Only consider using it if you are out of options.