If painting your car were as easy as painting a wall or furniture, there would be no need for an air compressor.
The paint job would be easy and straightforward, taking only a few hours of your time to get the job done.
However, to paint and properly detail a car, you’ll need consistent airflow. And that’s something that only the best air compressor for painting cars can provide. Thanks to their high speed and utmost efficiency, the right air compressor can give your car an excellent finish.
So which is the right compressor to choose? How do you sift through the noise to find what’s best for you anyway?
Brands spoil you for choice, and that’s fine. But it’s best to go for an air compressor that promises efficiency while taking the least time possible to get the job done.
So in this guide, we’ll look at some of the most efficient air compressors for painting cars, so we make your overall search easy. Plus, we’ve included a buyer’s guide in the last section to help you make an informed purchase decision.
Reviews of the Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars
1. Campbell Hausfeld VT6271 Air Compressor
The Campbell Hausfeld VT627 is affordable and flexible, good for any project that demands an air compressor. From sanding and stapling to nailing and painting cars, the VT6271 model is versatile enough to handle whatever project you throw to it.
At 163 pounds, the CH VT6271 air compressor is a good option for you if you prefer a lightweight air compressor. Moreover, the design features two rear wheels and a front handle, so you can easily move it from spot to spot in your station.
The tank is only 30 gallons in capacity, which is relatively lower than what you get from a model like the Ingersoll 2340L5-V. Its 240-volt, 3.7 horsepower provides a somewhat lower flow rate, about 10.2 CFM at 90 PSI and a highest pressure point of only 135 PSI.
As low as the flow rate may seem, you actually get enough power to run a number of work tools, including grinders, sprayers, and sanders. That means if you’re searching for a budget air compressor that you can use to paint a car, this one makes a good choice.
2. Ingersoll 2340L5-V Two Stage Air Compressor
The Ingersoll is a well-built air compressor that’s promising in the terms of performance.
The cast iron construction makes it a bit heavy. But the material explains why this is the sturdiest and the most durable air compressor yet. The construction includes a connecting rod, an overhung crankshaft, and cast cylinders.
When it comes to performance, few air compressors can handle continuous hours of use without a fuss. Ingersoll 2340L5-V happens to be one of them. Rightly so, this machine guarantees a continuous pump life of more than 15,000 hours without a hassle.
Together, the 60-gallon tank, a 5 PH motor, and a two-stage air compressor produce about 175 PSI maximum, which provides enough power to pain cars properly. The brand added a finned copper intercooler to the design to help with even heat dispersion when the compressor is at work.
While the Ingersoll 2340L5-V air compressor is generally reliable, it requires occasional lubrication for better performance. Some people may find the lubrication process somewhat tedious. But that’s not actually a deal breaker.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the Ingersoll 2340L5-V air compressor is its overall weight. At about 400 pounds, it may be somewhat hard to push around. So it’s best to find a suitable spot for it and lock it in that position permanently.
3. DeWalt DXCMLA3706056 Stationary Air Compressor
If you’re just getting started in the automotive space, chances are you may be on a budget for some items.
If that’s the case with an air compressor for painting cars, then you should consider the DeWalt DXCMLA3706056 model. Going for under $800, this is one of the most reasonably priced air compressors around.
Made of cast iron, the DeWalt DXCMLA3706056 is so durable that it can perform for a long time. The valve plate and the head are made of aluminum to help with heat management. And its pressure gauge is significant for monitoring and controlling performance.
The DeWalt DXCMLA3706056 features an on/off switch for power, and it’s located within reach so you can power the machine fast, and get started with the painting job as soon as possible. DeWalt also includes an oil level sight glass on this model, and this is quite handy because it helps with monitoring.
With a tank as big as 60 gallons, the DeWalt DXCMLA3706056 is able to provide a longer runtime just like the Ingersoll 2340L5-V. Plus, it comes with a separate synthetic oil specifically for lubricating the single-stage pump. With a flow rate of up to 13.4 CFM at 40 PSI, this air compressor is enough to power a number of tools, including impact wrenches and spray guns.
4. Powermate VX PLA4708065 Air Compressor
Powermate VX PLA4708065 doesn’t stand out just because it’s an 80-gallon model. It’s also an ideal choice because it can power up multiple air tools.
Good for DIY users and small-scale workshop, the Powermate VX PLA4708065 is a buy-and-forget air compressor that can make a big difference in your painting job.
The cast iron body, the aluminum head, and the valve plate work together to provide better heat release and distribution. Not to mention enhance cooling. Given that it provides a maximum pressure of 155 PSIs, this air compressor provides enough power for the optimum air tools performance.
Its ability to deliver 16.1 CFM at 40 PSI and 14 CFM at 90 PSI means the machine can ensure consistent and sufficient airflow to make the painting job easy.
The construction features a metal belt guard, which does two things: cover and protect the moving parts of the machine. Moreover, its wired belt guard promotes cooling, so the machine doesn’t heat up quickly, particularly when handling long-hour painting jobs.
Powermate VX PLA4708065 includes a dual-voltage induction motor, which enables higher pump performance for easy operation. Its pressure gauge and on/off switch gives you full control and flexibility of use. And its 80-gallon tank is downright big enough for seriously air-hungry painting jobs.
5. Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Compressor
Are you on a tight budget and looking for an air compressor that can paint cars well? Or maybe you just need a budget-friendly machine that can get the job done?
You should try the Rolair VT25BIG, an air compressor with a set of wheels, smaller body, large handles, and a 13.8-Amp four-pole 2.5 HP motor that’s so powerful that it can handle big pumps with ease.
Mad of cast iron, Rolair VT25BIG’s pump is sturdy and durable enough to handle the most demanding painting jobs. Since it’s a single-staged pump, it doesn’t apply too much pressure on the motor with each stroke from the cylinder. The pump comes splash lubricated, and this contributes to the extension of the motor’s life.
Running at 3400 Revolutions per Minute (RPM), the strokes can fill up the tank quickly, usually in under 5 minutes. The 110/120V motor is fitted with ball bearings to reduce friction when operating at high speed. And the cast iron tank, coated for scratch and element resistance, is big enough (5.3 gallons) to store sufficient air to run heavy-duty power tools.
The Rolair VT25BIG weighs only 104 pounds, making it the most lightweight model on this list. The wheels are quite big, so they make portability quite easy. The handle features an ergonomic rubber handle, which ensures you get a tight grip when pushing or pulling the device.
You’ll love this model because it works really well with a variety of pain gums. So if you already own a sprayer for the job, this compressor should suffice.
How to Choose the Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars
Below is what you need to consider before investing in an air compressor for painting cars.
Cubic Feet per Minute
The CFM is one of the most important factor to consider before buying an air compressor. Generally, it’s the speed at which an air compressor can deliver a given amount of air at a certain pressure level. The higher the CFM value of an air compressor the better it is.
The trick is to check how much CFM your spray gun requires, and then choose an air compressor that provides a higher value of cubic feet per minutes. Anything lower than the sprayer demands and you won’t get the kind of performance that you need. Choose the right CMF value and you’ll never worry about paint splatter and/or uneven coating.
You have to check two factors as far as power is concerned. These are voltage and horsepower rating.
If you can get an air compressor with a higher horsepower, the better. That’s because a higher HP rating equals to a higher compression, which results in a fast flow rate and maximum pressure.
Because many air compressors are electric, you have to check their voltage rating before buying. Remember, some stage have 110 to 120 voltage standards. Some have 220 to 240 voltage electrical grids. Depending on where you live, you may need to buy an adapter for compatibility.
Size of the Tank
Some people argue that the larger the tank the better the air compressor. But that’s relative and pretty much subjective. If you think about it, your needs and that of another person vary. So the size of the tank that works well for you may not be an ideal consideration for another person.
Go with the largest tank if you have tons of demanding car-painting jobs. An air compressor with an 80-gallon tank would be ideal in this case. But if you’re a DIY user or mechanic into small painting projects, an air compressor with a 30-gallon tank should suffice.
Because spray guns require pressure to work, check how much PSI an air compressor can deliver before buying. Again, the higher the PSI value is the better. In fact, an air compressor with a higher PSI value will give the flexibility to work with a variety of power tools just fine.