10 Best Air Compressors for Painting Cars 2020 [Detailed Guide]

Gone are the days when painting your car was a messy affair. Nowadays, air compressors are the in-thing as they help in making the process less tedious plus enables it to take less time.

These items are quite popular with car painters as they offer more speed and efficiency as well.

Now that we know what air compressors are, here comes another problem. Choosing the best air compressors for painting cars is not that easy.

There are many brands in the market, and some of them, disappointingly, are not up to the task. Do not worry as that is the main reason why we have come up with this article.

We are going to provide you with an easy way of choosing the ideal product from the many options available. There are some features that you need to look out for, and they include:

  • The CFM rating
  • Size
  • Power
  • Price, among others

The Best Air Compressors for Painting Cars

1. Campbell Hausfeld 2 Stage Air Compressor

The first item on our list is the Campbell Hausfeld air compressor which is a two-stage product with a 30-gallon capacity. Do not be put off by the rather small size as this compressor is suited for all types of tasks, whether small or big.

Let’s see what this product has to offer.

Product Description

Let’s start with the two-stage pump that allows the compressor to run for longer. So, you can run the tools for longer without being kept in waiting.

There is also the versatility that the compressor offers such that it can be used on a variety of tasks. Whether the task is small or big, the Campbell Hausfeld compressor is more than capable of getting the job done.

Any professional or contractor would appreciate the dual-stage motor that runs on 240V, and you could use it just about anywhere.

Other Features and Benefits

This air compressor features a metal belt guard which is entirely enclosed. This design is meant to offer you protection from the moving parts of the device.

Then, the V-belt drive, coupled with the pump crankshaft enhances the durability of the motor to about 5000 hours life.

Pros

  • Small for easy storage
  • Comes with a one-year limited warranty
  • Durable

Cons

  • Somewhat noisy

2. PowermateVx Air Compressor

Do you have an upcoming project that requires the use of many air tools for a long duration? If you are, the Powermate air compressor is here for you.

You may find it useful for home use as well as in small workshops.

But that’s not all.

Product Description

To start with, this compressor provides a maximum air pressure of 155-PSI. Therefore, you can expect optimum performance from the tool that it powers.

Then, with the 80-gallon capacity and 15-amp motor, you can expect this compressor to run for longer in comparison to other air tools such as spray guns.

As for the tank, it has a solid steel construction to give you a durable unit that would not break apart easily.

Other Features and Benefits

The PowermateVx air compressor delivers 14 CFM at 90 PSI and can, therefore, maintain sufficient airflow for the painting task at hand.

On top of that, the tank is quite huge to make it ideal for numerous operations that require a lot of air.

We liked how easy it is to control this unit. From the tank pressure gauge to the on/off switch; at no point should you be overwhelmed by this compressor.

Let’s not leave out the wired belt guard that helps in the cooling process while the metal belt guard is useful in protecting the moving parts.

Pros

  • Quiet operation
  • Solid steel construction
  • Easy to operate

Cons

  • Bulky

3. California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor

If you are on a budget and you need a high-quality air compressor that would get the job done, here is an item by California Air Tools that you ought to think about.

An outstanding feature of this compressor is the low maintenance that it requires, and so you can expect to spend less in that front.

We have outlined more benefits in our discussion below.

Product Description

We shall start with the oil-free pump from which you can expect cleaner air. Then, it offers a maximum pressure of 120PSI, and this adds to its effectiveness in painting your car.

The oil-less technology is one of the reasons why this unit has such an impressive runtime.

Another impressive feature with this compressor is the quiet operation. With a sound of roughly 60 decibels, your neighbours would not have anything to complain about.

Other Features and Benefits

This unit weighs around 54 lbs plus has round and sturdy wheels. All these make the compressor very portable, and the terrain does not matter as you could move across it very easily.

The compressor is well-made, and if you have light painting to do, this would be a handy piece of equipment to have around.

Pros

  • Built to last
  • Low maintenance
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • Not very powerful

4. RolairVT25BIG Wheeled Compressor

This unit may be pricey, but as a professional, that is a small price to pay for all the benefits that you would reap from this compressor. It features a large handle and so women and men who are not that strong would be comfortable handling this compressor.

Let’s see what else you can get from this product.

Product Description

A first glance at this compressor and you may confuse it with a lawnmower. It has a pair of wheels and a handle to make it manoeuvrable. Therefore, you can move it around easily during the painting.

More on the handle, it is collapsible on top of the cage so that the unit would require less storage space.

Besides the wheels, there are a pair of sturdy legs that provide the compressor with some level of stability. As a result, you can expect the unit not to fall over easily.

The cast-iron construction should be an assurance that you are dealing with a product that should serve you for a long time to come.

Other Features and Benefits

It has straightforward settings that you need to execute for proper functioning. On top of that, pouring the oil in is straightforward and does not require any instrument for the job.

We have no complaints about the tank capacity while the looks are equally appealing.

Pros

  • Does not fall over
  • Easy to transport
  • Compact for easy storage

Cons

  • Expensive

5. Industrial Air IL1682066.MN Air Compressor

This is another compact air compressor to make it to our list. We liked the UL certification that should serve as an assurance that you are dealing with a high-quality and safe product that would deliver what is expected of it.

Product Description

To kick us off, this unit has two wheels to allow you to move from one side of the car to the other during the painting process.

Then, this compressor delivers 6.2 CFM at 40 PSI, and you need to use a low-volume spray gun for the best performance.

There is also the heat sink by the motor, which is designed to help in reducing wear and tear. As a result, the delicate components would remain intact for longer.

Other Features and Benefits

The quick-set regulator and gauges are some of the components that contribute to the smooth operation of the unit.

You should have peace of mind investing in this unit due to the two-year limited warranty that it comes with.

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Has a two-year limited warranty
  • Impressive manoeuvrability

Cons

  • Limited to low-volume spray guns

6. Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V 2-Stage Compressor

if you have ever set foot in an auto-body shop, there is a huge possibility that you have come across this air compressor. It has been in use in such an environment for many years and has rarely disappointed

So, what do we get from this unit?

Product Description

The first thing we liked with this compressor is the massive 60-gallon capacity. Therefore, you can work non-stop on your car without running out of air. So, frequent interruptions should be out of the question.

Then, with a maximum operating pressure of 175PSI, you can expect this compressor to be quite effective even when subjected to the toughest applications.

We should also touch on the synthetic lubricant that enhances the compressor's efficiency, and it has around 2000-hours of service before changeouts.

Other Features and Benefits

This compressor is very easy to service, and we attribute this to the creative design. This model features a one-piece connecting rod, single cast cylinders and an overhung shaft. All these combine to simplify the maintenance process.

You may like its compact design to make it portable while the warranty is extendable between 1-2 years.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Quiet operation
  • Does not provide low-quality air

Cons

  • The has to be a water-strap filter to eliminate easy paint removal

7. Campbell Hausfeld One-Stage VT6271 Air Compressor

The VT6271 is a versatile tool that is capable of powering different air tools, and the tank has a 30-gallon capacity. This means that the recovery period is going to be shorter and the users would not have to wait for long.

Product Description

With a pressure of 90 PSI, the unit provides sufficient power for a variety of tasks besides painting.

This compressor features large air-powered wheels that ensure you have an easy time moving from one side to another as you paint your car.

On top of that, the wheels mean that you can use this unit from just about anywhere.

We liked the durability of the motor and has about 5000-hours of life to ensure that you never end up with an incomplete task.

Other Features and Benefits

This compressor is designed to be compact and so should not take up too much storage space.

Lastly, it is decently-priced and would not dent your pockets too much.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Quite powerful
  • Versatile for different projects

Cons

  • Not as silent as advertised

8. Industrial Air ILA1883054 Air-Compressor

If you want a highly portable air compressor, this model by Industrial Air is what you need. The main advantage of such a unit is that it offers a degree of flexibility, and this would allow for complete painting of your car.

Product Description

One notable feature of this compressor is that it delivers up to seven CFM at 40PSI and this adds to its suitability for a variety of tasks.

Next, it features two pneumatic tires that allow you to move around with the unit more easily.

On top of that is the dual-voltage motor that could be converted from a 120V application to a 240V outlet. This is the versatility that this unit brings.

It is easy to operate with a quick-set regulator, pressure gauges as well as the on/off switch.

Other Features and Benefits

Let’s touch on the front handle that allows for easy transportation of this compressor to whichever location where the task is to be performed.

There is also the synthetic air compressor oil that enhances the performance and longevity of this compressor.

Another thing worth mentioning is the fast heat dissipation due to the design that features cast iron, twin cylinder pump with an aluminium head and valve plate.

Pros

  • Has a two-year limited warranty
  • Well-built
  • Easy-to-maneuver

Cons

  • Needs an oil filter for clean air

9. California Air Tools 10020C Air Compressor

Just like the previous compressor from the same brand that appears on our list, this compressor features an oil-free pump, and so you can expect low maintenance costs.

However, it is quite pricey, and we are going to analyze its features to see whether there is any justification for this pricing.

Product Description

To start with, this compressor is small and compact, and so you shouldn't have any trouble when it comes to storage. However, this small sizing means that the CFM rate is not that impressive.

Besides that, it provides a pressure of 90PSI, which is quite low.

The manufacturer claims that the unit is ultra-quiet. While there is no roaring or whining, the humming sound that it gives out can be too much.

You can expect an easy time moving the unit around as it is equipped with two wheels for mobility.

Other Features and Benefits

The control board of this compressor allows for smooth operation of this unit. From the pressure gauge to the on/off switch, everything is easily accessible to allow for smooth operation.

Besides the oil-free pump being of low-maintenance, it also allows for use in different temperatures as well as in uneven terrain.

Pros

  • Easy maintenance
  • Compact
  • Portable

Cons

  • Pricey

10. Master Airbrush Air Compressor

The last item on our list is by no means inferior to the rest. It is an airbrushing system that is designed to be perfect for those who are just getting into the art (airbrushing).

As you shall see in our review below, this unique system has everything you need to kickstart your career in arts and crafts.

Product Description

As we mentioned earlier, this setup is ideal for kicking off your airbrush painting profession. It has everything you need for the job, including three nozzles (different designs), brush cleaners, and an extra-long hose.

There is also a start guide that is going to give you an easy introduction to using this system for airbrush painting.

We liked the hint of simplicity that this unit gives. It is easy to maintain, use clean and for other maintenance practices as well.

Let’s not leave out the power-saving design of this compressor. When it is not in use, it shuts down automatically.

Other Features and Benefits

The oil-free design of this compressor contributes to its low-maintenance aspect.

Another thing is the water filter that ensures the unit only gives out clean and dry air.

The maximum PSI of 57 is also quite decent for a compressor that is most suited for beginners in the arts and craft industry. This does not mean that the experienced painters would not be comfortable using this unit.

Pros

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Has a power-saving design
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • Poor packaging

The Buying Guide

We mentioned at the beginning that to find the perfect air compressor for the job, there are certain factors that you need to put into consideration.

If you get these aspects right, nothing should stand in your way of landing the ideal product from the many models in front of you.

Let’s check them out.

The CFM Rating (Cubic feet/minute)

The CFM simply refers to the amount of air that is being pushed through the hose at a particular moment. This rating has to be high as the paint sprayer aims to turn the paint into small droplets.

A model with a 10-20 CFM is one that would assure you of superb results, including an even coat.

Size

A large system is critical to ensuring that your painting job takes less time as it would be moving more air during use. This means that you would not be waiting for your compressor for too long.

If you have a workshop, a large unit would be an assurance of reliability and better performance as it would offer minimum interruptions. Therefore, a capacity of 20-40 gallons would be most ideal.

However, for home use, a smaller unit of about 10-15 gallons would be perfect as it would not occupy much space. On top of that, a smaller unit is likely to be cheaper.

Power

Here, we shall tell you the difference between one and two-stage compressors. A single-stage compressor produces less CFM per horsepower, and this translates to less power.

So, a dual-stage compressor would boost the output while requiring less energy to do so. The CFM delivered in this case would be on a ratio of 4:1 instead of 1:1.

The Noise Level

Keep in mind that more power-horses translates to a louder machine. Also check the label for the decibels that this unit is going to be giving out to be on the safe side with your neighbors, the law and for your comfort as well.

Oil-Free 

An oil-free system is less likely to mess up your paint finish. Additionally, it also ensures that the compressor only gives out clean air.

Pricing

It is wise to have a price range beyond which you are not willing to spend. However, although a cheap product does not have to be low quality, you should be prepared to compromise the advanced features and settle for the basics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the following queries on the best air compressors for painting cars and see if you can gain anything new from the Q&A session generated.

What is an air compressor?

This is a device that converts power into energy that is stored in pressurized air. The compressor forces more air into a storage tank and in the process increases the pressure.

Which is the ideal size for an air compressor for painting your car?

We recommend a capacity of 60 gallons and above with a horsepower of 5-6 since this would provide sufficient volume that is needed to spray the car with paint.

How long does an air compressor last?

Researchers put the life span of an air compressor at 40,000-60,000 hours, which is equivalent to 20-30 years of operation. However, the longevity of the device all depends on how well you maintain it.

The Best Overall

In the end, the product which we felt stood out from the rest is the Campbell Hausfeld 2 Stage Air Compressor. This is due to the impressive balance of features that ensure you have an outstanding piece that would not let you down.

Final Thoughts

If you want to have an easy time in painting your car, you should consider investing in an air compressor. It would take you less time to get the job done while the effort used would be minimal too.

We hope our article has been of great help so that next time you go shopping for the appropriate air compressor for painting your car, you would be better placed to make the right decision.