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9 Best Air Compressors for Painting Cars in 2022

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Air compressors are your best friend when it comes to car painting. It does not matter whether you are an amateur or a professional at car painting if you do not have an air compressor, the task would be shabbily done. Air compressors will ensure that the airflow of the paint is consistent and the air pressure is accurate. If you want to achieve the desired results, you need an air compressor that will fit your needs.

This guide will help you pick one that is best suited to you based on our exhaustive research into up and coming air compressor options. We will also give you a detailed pros and cons list to aid your decisions and answer some common questions related to different air compressors.

Our best recommendation is the California Air Tools 20020 air compressor. Read on to find out why.

Here are the best air compressors for painting cars (our picks)

The California Air Tools 20020 air compressor

The California Air Tools 20020 air compressor

The California Air Tools compressor or CAT, is one of the best options available in the market due to its hardiness and conveniently built design. It is rugged, durable and very quiet making it a dream to work with. 

The CAT compressor runs on a 2.0 HP motor and boasts of an oil-free dual-piston pump which will last you for 3,000 hours at the very least. This is an enviable number compared to the other compressors that hardly give out 500 hours or even less than that. A big advantage is that you can use this pump in cold temperatures too, since there is no fear of the oil freezing up.

Price: From $709.00

Key Specifications:

  • 5.30 CFM and 90 PSI
  • Air stored in a 20-gallon tank
  • 2.0 HP motor that runs at 1680 RPM
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Very quiet, running on 70 decibels
  • Long-lasting life
  • Easy transportation due to two wheels

Cons:

  • Customer service can be improved

Read here about the quiet air compressors.

Stark Portable air compressor

Stark compressors are not as famous as its counterparts, but they have hidden gems which makes them good choices. Their automatic shutoff feature sets them apart and they boast of being up to 50% quieter on the noise side, compared to similar compressors.

They have a 3.5 HP motor and a cast iron pump with a cylinder. It comes equipped with a large air filter for excellent performance. The cast iron tank reduces the responsibility of maintenance on your part and increases the life of the compressor.

Price: From $234.95

Key Specifications:

  • Maximum PSI of 125, CFM of 7.2 to 3.5 with 40/90 PSI
  • Ideal for a variety of projects such as nailing, bolting, hobby painting, etc.
  • Automatic shutoff
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Can be moved easily
  • Ideal for spray guns
  • Automatic shutoff stops pumping air when it is fully inflated
  • Safer to use due to the automatic shutoff feature

Cons:

  • Customer service is not good enough
  • Missing parts complaints

Powermate Vx PLA4708065

Powermate Vx PLA4708065

With a steel body and a large capacity 8-gallon tank, Powermate Vx’s compressor is a sturdy and long-lasting choice. The compressor has a 240 V motor with 4.7 horsepower. It comes with an attractive cast iron crankcase and has a built-in pressure gauge. The controls are easy to use with a simple on/off switch and a belt guard.

But, there is a con to this model. The compressor’s pump requires a lot of upkeep and is on the high maintenance side. You will need to lubricate the pump every few weeks.

It is also not portable because there are no wheels to it.

Key Specifications:

  • Large 80-gallon tank
  • CFM 14 and 16.1, PSI 40
  • Maximum pressure: 155 PSI
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Huge capacity with the tank
  • Durable as it is cast with one-piece cast iron
  • Comes with a wired belt guard

Cons:

  • Not portable
  • Requires regular lubrication and is a hassle to keep up

WEN 2289T air compressor

WEN 2289T air compressor

The WEN 2289T air compressor is ideal for home or personal use. These are popular for use in garages, workshops, etc.

The compressor has a draining valve and a quarter-inch coupler. This mechanism makes it easy for you to record the tank pressure and easy-to-read gauges. It has a 1.5 HP motor and is very quiet, working with just 68 decibels. The tank is made of reinforced steel and 10-gallons. 

Since this is an oil-free compressor, you do not need to maintain it as regularly as it will not clog up or need lubrication. It has an impressive auto-shutdown feature too.

Price: from $262.17

Key Specifications:

  • 4.0 or 5.0 CFM and 90 or 40 PSI
  • Oil-free pump
  • 10 gallon tank with reinforced steel
  • Can handle pressure up to 150 PSI
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Generous storage
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Ideal for use with spray guns
  • Quiet with noise up to only 68 decibels

Cons:

  • Some customers claim to have received damaged or faulty pieces

Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V air compressor

Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V air compressor

Ingersoll Rand’s 2340L5-V air compressor is perfect for use with a paint sprayer. It is a powerful air compressor that is both durable and high-end. It comes with a 3-phase 5 HP motor which can run as fast as 230 V. The maximum pressure it can take is 175 PSI. Not only that, but it comes with a large 8-gallon tank too, meaning you can use it for a wide variety of jobs.

It also has a cast-iron body, and the pump usually lasts for about 15,000 hours.

Price: From $1,899.99

Key Specifications:

  • 230-volt, 5 HP motor
  • 80-gallon tank
  • Cast iron body
  • 14.3 CFM and 175 PSI
  • Maximum pressure: 175 PSI
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Large storage
  • Long-lasting with the 15,000 hour mark

Cons:

  • It is too expensive
  • The body is heavy and difficult to move

Craftsman Air Compressor

Craftsman Air Compressor

Craftsman is a brand associated with tool manufacturing across the world. Their red-colored tools need no introductions and raise no questions about their expectations. Their air compressors are similarly built: stylish, user-friendly and efficient. 

Popular amongst homeowners, this is an all-in-one recommendation. It has multiple features that will aid your painting. Some of the unique features are it’s long life. Using a 1.8 HP motor allows this model to function quietly, reducing noise. Even though the tank is not that big, it is perfect for the job. The tank fills up from empty to full in just 3 minutes. 

It also comes with two couplers, which allows you to use it for two tasks simultaneously without compromising on the quality. Depending on the CFM requirements for your painting, you can use two paint guns simultaneously.

Two gauges can track the pressure in the tank.

It is also portable as it comes with a rubber-made handle and two rugged wheels for extra support during transportation. 

Price: From $587.17

Key Specifications: 

  • 4.0 to 5.0 CFM, 90 or 40 PSI
  • Powerful and long-lasting
  • 1.8 horsepower motor
  • Oil-free compressor
  • Fills the tank from zero to full in less than 3 minutes
  • 3 times extra life cycle
  • Comes with couplers, gauges, and wheels
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Portable
  • 1 year warranty
  • Powerful 1.8 HP motor
  • Great CFM capacity

Cons:

  • Customers complain of broken wheels

Ford Silent Series oil-free compressor

Ford Silent Series oil-free compressor

Ford is a household name across the world. Ford vehicles are some of the earliest and most sold of all time. And yet, not many are aware that Ford has ventured into the air compressor realm. Ford’s Silent Series is an example of how Ford applies the same ethics of their vehicles onto air compressors. 

As their name suggests, Ford’s Silent Series is a silent compressor packed with powerful features. It is durable, affordable, noiseless, and powerful. The compressor boasts a 2.0 HP motor with a maximum pressure output of 125 PSI. The oil-free pump makes it easy to care for and reduces noise significantly. You can use it in any weather conditions without fearing the motor. 

It comes with two pressure gauges to keep track of the internal pressure. They are easy to read and keep you updated.

A large 15-gallon capacity tank is one of the quietest compressors made, which is their main selling point.

Price: From $390.55

Key Specifications:

  • 2.9 or 3.9 CFM, 90 or 40 PSI
  • 15 gallon vertical air tank
  • 2 HP motor, 120 V
  • Maximum PSI: 125
  • 59 decibels operation
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Big wheels make for easy portability
  • Very quiet (59 dB)
  • ideal for spray guns
  • Easy-to-read operations
  • Oil-free pump

DeWalt DXCMV5048055

DeWalt DXCMV5048055

DeWalt air compressors are lighter on the wallet compared to their counterparts. Even though they are cheaper, that does not mean any compromise on the quality. The unit comes with a single-stage pump and synthetic oil to help keep the operations smooth. The tank size is a large one, at 6-gallons.

You can use this compressor for a wide variety of tasks. It is ideal for using spray guns, hammers, ratchets, etc. 

Also, Read – Best air compressor for spray painting

It also comes with two pressure gauges to monitor the air pressure. The on/off switch makes the controls straightforward. It also has a durable body with a cast-iron construction. There is a unique valve plate that helps in reducing the accumulated heat. The oil level is encased in a glass that makes the readings easy. 

The biggest con for this model is that it does not have any wheels. For such a heavy body construction and tank capacity, it makes moving this compressor a nightmare.

Price: $949.99

Key Specifications:

  • 230 V, 3.7 HP motor
  • 60-gallon tank size
  • 11.5 and 13.4 CFM and 90 and 40 PSI
  • Maximum pressure capacity: 155 PSI
  • Cast-iron body
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Synthetic oil is provided for pump lubrication
  • Pressure gauges
  • on/off switch
  • Glass encased oil level meter
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Cons:

  • No wheels for portability

Industrial Air ILA3606056 Heavy-Duty Air Compressor

Industrial Air ILA3606056 Heavy-Duty Air Compressor

Industrial Air’s heavy-duty air compressor is built keeping in mind its long-lasting use. Built for heavy-duty use, it includes ample protection against wear and tear. This protection includes a single-piece iron casing, an iron body, steel reed valves from Sweden, and even ball bearings.

The motor is also a heavy-duty one. Maxing out at 240 V and a 3.7 HP motor, it is pretty powerful. You can use it for multiple air tools.

The large 6-gallon tank capacity and pressure gauges are standard and well-built. But, it does not come with in-built wheels so it might be a hassle to carry around.

Also, it will need constant lubrication and the maintenance will prove to be a little tiresome.

Price: From $978.00

Key Specifications:

  • 2 year warranty
  • CFM at 40 PSI: 13.4, CFM at 90 PSI: 11.5
  • 208-240 V motor, 3.7 HP
  • Maximum pressure: 155 PSI
  • 12 inch cast iron balanced flywheel
  • 60-gallon tank
  • Power source: Corded Electric

Pros:

  • Cast iron body
  • Heavy-duty
  • Long Lasting use
  • Pressure gauges
  • on/off switch make for easy controls

Cons:

  • Requires lubrication from time to time
  • No wheels to move it around

For compressors used for specialized purposes such as using nail guns, read this guide – best air compressor for nail gun

What to Consider Before Buying an Air Compressor for Painting Cars?

One of the first things to consider when deciding on an air compressor is its power rating. There are electric air compressors and gas ones. You will need to check the voltage to check if it is compatible with your needs. All of the above-mentioned products will require a 120 to 240 V adapter to run.

Different air compressors will offer different readings of CFM and PSI. CFM or Cubic Feet Per Minute is the amount of airflow that comes from the compressor and the PSI is the amount of pressure your compressor can take.

The CFM and PSI decide how well your compressor can function. 

We recommend that you pick a compressor with a CFM between 4-6.5 and PSI at 90. Paired with these, the compressor must have a 3-5 HP motor for a phenomenal performance. Even if the HP is lower, you can still get a good result with the CFM and PSI mentioned above.

Other factors such as portability and maintenance are also vital to consider. Most air compressors these days are easy to maintain and highly portable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Electric Air Compressors Better Than Gas-Powered Air Compressors?

Electric compressors and Gas-Powered compressors have their pros and cons. The basic difference between them is that one uses gas and the other needs electricity. 

A pro for gas-powered compressors is that they do not have an automated shutdown mechanism. Instead, they use an unloader valve that opens and closes based on the pressure inside the tank. It means that they keep running independently and will not suddenly shut down. A con for gas-powered compressors is that they are very loud and dangerous to use in closed spaces. This is because of the fumes they emit.

By contrast, electric compressors are safe to use inside and are quiet. Depending on your requirements, you can choose between both.

How Do I Make Sure My Tank Is Safe?

Your tank bursting under pressure is a nightmare and a safety hazard. To reassure yourself on the safety of your compressor tank, you can run a hydrostatic test on it. Doing this will pressurize your tank above normal pressure to check how much your tank can take. If you have a metal tank, it will not stretch beyond a specific limit. If it pulls, you know that the tank wall is weak, and you will need a more robust tank.

What is a Good Size for a Car Painting Air Compressor?

To determine the size of the compressor, you will need to perform a good car painting job, and you will have to measure its CFM. If you plan to use more than one tool simultaneously, you will need to combine the amount of CFM. The more the CFM, the better, bigger, and more powerful the compressor will be.

Typically, go in for a minimum of 20 CFM on your compressor.

How Much HP Is Needed for Painting a Car with an Air Compressor?

You will need a minimum of 10 HP compressors to paint a car. We always recommend that you go in for a higher HP to do the job more efficiently.

What CFM Do I Need for Auto Body Car Painting?

For auto painting, a 5o-gallon tank with a minimum of 14 to 18 CFM is compulsory. The air pressure can be between 10 to 25 PSI. If you go in for a higher CFM, the job will be easier and smoother.

Wrapping Up

While picking a compressor, you will need to focus on the specifications of the compressor, as well as the air tools you use and the CFM and PSI ratings of your chosen model. As mentioned earlier, our top pick is the California Air Tools 20020 compressor. Selecting a proper air compressor for your needs is challenging, but we hope that our guide gave you some answers and clarity.