Can I Use Motor Oil in My Air Compressor?

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Can I use motor oil in my air compressor? Motor oils for autos contain a detergent that helps engines burn fuel more efficiently. Lubrication is required for air compressor motors in order for them to perform properly and efficiently.

This mainly aids in minimizing friction between the motor’s various components, resulting in less heat output, lower energy consumption, and longer machine life.

Is it Possible to Use Motor Oil in an Air Compressor?

Yes, motor oil can be used in an air compressor. It is the role of motor oil to function well with various sections of an engine in order to handle high and low temperatures. However, not all oils are safe for compressors since some contain substances that harm them or potentially harm them when mixed with others.

Different types of motor oil are organized on a brown wooden shelf placed near the dirty wall of an unkept auto repair shop

If you have a high-powered air compressor, it appears that pouring motor oil into it will cause it to perform poorly. They should, however, perform well together if the right fuel is utilized with these machines and is properly-suited to their weights and viscosities.

Motor oil can certainly be poured into an air compressor. However, the oil you use must have a specific composition and characteristic that makes it a good substitute for compressor oils. I advocate using non-detergent motor oils in an air compressor. Make sure the motor oil is either 20 or 30 weight. Your machine will be less likely to fail and produce a disaster if you utilize lighter, thinner fluids.

One thing to keep in mind is that air compressor manufacturers strongly advise against using motor oil. You should only use the compressor oils recommended by the manufacturer. Otherwise, your warranty may be voided.

So, if you truly need to lubricate your air compressor but can’t find any, you should double-check with your compressor business first to see whether they allow it. You can use motor oil without worry of losing your warranty if your organization does not have such rules and laws.

Motor Oil Composition

For engine parts, motor oil is a vital resource. It improves performance, detergency, and corrosion resistance, all of which are beneficial when lubricating internal combustion engines like those found in cars and motorcycles.

Internal Combustion Engine oils for four-cycle (non-vehicle) engines are also available; they operate well with two-stroke engines. The oil that lubricates your engine has a dual purpose. By lowering respirometry from the moving parts or improving seal integrity, motor oils can be employed as a varnish and dispersion to cool an overheated engine.

Functions of Oil in Air Compressor

  • Cooling: As the air compressor constantly compresses air, the temperature inside the compression chamber rises. This can cause compressor failure because oil is used as a coolant.
  • Lubrication: A multitude of moving parts are required to obtain compressed air, and because they are all composed of metal, sufficient lubrication is required for them to function properly. An air compressor’s main responsibility is lubrication, which protects it from wear and tear.
  • Sealing: Sealing is critical for compressing and maintaining the compressed state of the air. However, it is not always possible to achieve this only through the use of metal pieces. Oil has the ability to reach the tiniest of spaces and provide a good seal.
  • Cleaning: Despite the air filter’s ability to collect the majority of pollutant particles, some nanoparticles remain in the air. Oil is an excellent medium for capturing them. During its service life, the metal parts of the compressor produce fragmented small particles once more. For best efficiency and service life, these particles must be removed from the compression chamber. Oil is also effective in this regard.
Various brands of motor oil and WD-40 placed near a tray of dirty hand tools on top of an old metal table

What Is the Difference Between Motor Oil and Air Compressor Oil?

An air compressor is a flexible instrument that may be used to drive pneumatic tools or inflate tires. Oil is required for most types of compressors, however there are significant distinctions between air compressor oil and motor oil.

Motor oil is used in car engines to provide lubrication between metal parts and comes in organic and synthetic kinds. Unlike air-compressor oil, motor oil frequently contains additives that safeguard engines by preventing the oil from degrading at high operating temperatures.

Air compressor oil is designed specifically for air compressors. It serves a variety of purposes, including cooling the compressor, lubricating it, and acting as a sealant. Your compressor would heat considerably faster if you didn’t use air compressor oil. Overheating leads many compressors to shut down automatically, but the way the oil removes heat allows your compressor to work longer without overheating.

Your air compressor would likewise leak more air if there was no air compressor oil to act as a sealant. Leaks lower your compressor’s efficiency and the maximum pressure it can produce. Compressor oil also lubricates your compressor’s working parts, reducing wear and tear on the engine.

What Happens When Motor Oil Is Used in an Air Compressor?

There are a few factors to bear in mind while using motor oil in an air compressor, based on my analysis of motor and synthetic oil. Even while motor oil can be used in air compressors, it can pose issues.

The following are some of the concerns that may arise:

  • When agitated, the detergents in motor oil will foam up, and the oil with foam will not lubricate properly.
  • At high temperatures, additives in motor oil cause carbon build-up.
  • It will leave a deposit on the pump, reducing its power and capacity.
  • These two oils’ best-performing temperature and other variables, such as viscosity, pour point, and so on, are not the same. Oil will become dysfunctional as a result of this. The working temperature of a motor engine and an air compressor differs noticeably once again.
  • Some motor oil additives are completely useless for the compressor and, as a result, can degrade air quality.
  • Finally, despite the presence of air filters, the use of a motor or alien oil in the compressor will undoubtedly degrade the quality and purity of compressed air.
Five red bottles of Motorcraft Synthetic Blend motor oil beside a white oil filter on top of a white paper placed on the asphalt

Right of Viscosity of Oil for Air Compressors

The texture or consistency of the oil is referred to as viscosity. When using motor oil in an air compressor, keep the viscosity of the oil in mind. You can’t just choose someone off the shelf.

If you don’t want to use oil with detergents, make sure the oils are designated as non-detergent. There are two viscosity options for air compressor fluids: SAE 30 and SAE 20. Both will work for most modern compressors.

The best option is to request an oil that contains no additives. Dishwashing liquid and bleach, for example, are frequently employed as thinning agents in motor lubricants.

Most units, however, can absorb more lubricants because their components are more robust than those found in cars and motorbikes; they can withstand more pressure without wearing out as quickly as smaller types.


In conclusion, air compressors require a lubricant that is specifically developed and engineered for their unique working design and operating conditions. Can I use motor oil in my air compressor? Yes you can because it is the role of motor oil to perform well in both high and low-temperature engines. It improves deterrence, corrosion resistance, and performance.