In automotive manufacturing and repairs, air compressors are a vital tool.
They permit auto mechanics and auto body technicians to quickly and efficiently remove debris from wheel wells, inflate tires, paint cars, use power tools and do more auto body work with less effort.
Having a reliable air compressor is crucial for accomplishing daily automotive tasks. So the need to invest in a high-quality one cannot be over-emphasized.
When it comes to picking the appropriate air compressor for automotive bodywork, it can be difficult because there’s no one-size-fits-all air compressor.
However, we have narrowed down the air compressors in the market and have assembled this well-detailed review of the 10 best air compressors for auto bodywork.
This comprehensive review will help you find the perfect match for your needs – one that is powerful enough to handle all your jobs. So without wasting any more time, have a read.
Powermate Vx PLA4708065 Electric Air Compressor
Capacity: 80 Gallons
Editor’s Ratings: 4.9
SS5 5HP Single Stage Air Compressor
Capacity: 60 Gallons
Editor’s Ratings: 4.9
Industrial Air ILA1883054 Belt Driven Air Compressor
Capacity: 30 Gallons
Editor’s Ratings: 4.8
NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air Compressor
Capacity: 20 Gallons
Editor’s Ratings: 4.7
PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor
Tank Capacity: 6 Gallons
Editor’s Ratings: 4.9
Our 10 Best Air Compressor For Auto Body Work Picks:
1. Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon Electric Air Compressor
Powermate is a company that has been designing and manufacturing air compressors for over 40 years. They have created the most powerful 80-gallon electric air compressor on the market. It finds use in various professional settings where power and reliability are key factors.
This electric air compressor functions with a 15-Amp induction motor that moves at 3450 RPM to produce a power of 4.7HP. You can use it with 240-volt outlets or plug it into standard 120-volt outlets using an adapter kit, which will require some assembly on your end. Note that it doesn’t come with a cord.
The Powermate Vx series features a single-stage oil-lubricated three-cylinder pump with a cast iron crankcase that supplies a high airflow of 14-CFM at 90 PSI or 155 PSI maximum for powering air tools. It also features a large intake filter/silencers that filter the air and reduce its operating noise to the lowest level. Thanks to its cast-iron body, 12″ cast iron flywheel, and steel tank, it is very sturdy and will stand up to heavy use.
The Powermate air compressor comes equipped with a metal belt guard that ensures moving parts stay protected and prevents the engine from overheating. Anyone can use it because of its ergonomic design that features an integrated tank pressure gauge and on/off switches. Powermate powerful air compressor has a two-year warranty on it. When you buy this machine, you’ll get synthetic oil and a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.
- It has a large capacity tank of 80 gallons.
- This compressor is made of cast iron and steel for long-lasting use.
- It has a two-year warranty.
- Thanks to the large intake filter/silence, it has a reduced operation noise.
- Powerful 4.7 Horsepower motor
- It doesn’t come with a cord.
2. Ingersoll Rand SS5 Single Stage Air Compressor
The Ingersoll Rand SS5 single-stage air compressor is perfect for auto bodywork on cars, trucks, and other automobiles. It features a durable cast iron construction with a single-stage oil-lubricated belt-driven pump that provides continuous high-performance operation.
This compressor runs on a 5HP single-phase motor with a thermal overload protector and manual reset, which will keep it running longer than most other machines of its kind. This protective measure ensures that it will not overheat or stop working while in use, even at an increased air pressure! It also features a quiet running mechanism that works without much noise thanks to an efficient air filter.
Its pump supplies 18.1 CFM of air at an impressive 90 PSI and can supply up to 135 PSI, ensuring that your needs are always met! Ingersoll Rand has a two-year warranty on the pump. When it comes to usability, this air compressor excels in flying colors. It has an automatic start/stop pressure switch control and an oil sight gauge for convenient and smooth operation.
The Ingersoll Rand SS5 single-stage air compressor comes equipped with a 60 gallon vertical ASME receive tank for continuous use. Thanks to the extra-large belt wheel, the compressor has a cool operation. Plus, the belt is fully enclosed for protection.
Be informed that the outlet size this compressor accepts is ½”, and it doesn’t come with synthetic oil, fitting, air pressure regulator/filter, and electrical cable. You’ll have to get these items separately and wire the compressor before you can use it. Ingersoll Rand advises wiring the compressor on a 60 Amp circuit for you to get the best result out of it. However, this wiring will cost you additional money.
The downside to this compressor is that it doesn’t last longer than the warranty period, two years. Also, the manual drain valve is at the bottom and will be a hassle to reach. So, ensure you mount this compressor high enough so you can get to the drain valve without much stress.
- It runs on a powerful 5HP motor with thermal overload protection and manual reset that delivers high performance.
- The compressor can supply air at a maximum pressure of 135PSI.
- It runs quiet and doesn’t overheat due to optimized heat dissipation system.
- Features an automatic start/stop pressure switch control and an oil sight gauge.
- Large tank capacity, great for automotive shop.
- It doesn’t come with synthetic oil, fitting, air pressure regulator/filter, and power cord.
- You will need to hard-wire it.
- The drain valve is at the bottom, which is hard to reach if you keep the compressor on the floor.
3. Industrial Air ILA1883054 Belt Driven Air Compressor
The Industrial Air ILA1883054 belt-driven air compressor is a powerful machine used for inflating tires and power air tools. It features an industrial-duty belt drive system, so it’s always running at high speeds and will always be reliable. The compressor functions with a 1HP industrial-grade dual voltage induction motor. The motor has standard wiring for a 120-volt outlet but can be rewired for a 240-volt application.
This compressor pump is a twin-cylinder, oil-lubricated pump made from cast iron to ensure long service life. It supplies air 7.0 CFM @ 40 PSI, 5.7 CFM @ 90 PSI, and at a maximum pressure of 155PSI. The air stores in the equipped portable 30 gallons vertical air tank. Thanks to the quick-set regulator, working pressure gauges, and on/off switch, anyone from professionals to DIYers can use this compressor with ease. Note that it is not a continuous compressor.
One of the best features of the Industrial Air ILA1883054 belt-driven air compressor is its two large pneumatic tires and large front handle that make it a mobile unit. This makes the compressor perfect for anyone who needs portable power on demand! Be informed that the required hose connection at the regulator is ¼” NPT, while at the reserve tank’s side is 1.5″ NPS with an o-ring. When you buy this compressor, you’ll get a bottle of synthetic oil that will keep the unit running smooth. Plus, a two-year limited warranty.
- It comes with two pneumatic tires and a large front handle for maneuvering around the workshop.
- There’s a two-year warranty on it.
- You can use it on a 120V circuit or rewire it to use on a 240V circuit.
- The build quality of this pump is great, making it heavy-duty.
- No continuous airflow.
4. NorthStar Single-Stage Portable Electric Air Compressor
NorthStar’s single-stage portable air compressor is both powerful and high quality. Whether it be at home or in the auto shop, this air compressor never fails to deliver! It features a 2 HP, 115V/15 amp dual voltage motor that can be rewired to a 230V/7.5 amp to suit different locations. The motor runs at 3,440 RPM and has a belt drive that makes it produce less noise while in operation, causing it to deliver excellent performance. It comes with a 6ft extra-long cord and plug.
NorthStar equipped this compressor with a heavy-duty cast iron V-twin belt drive oil-lubricated pump that supplies air 5.0 CFM @ 90 PSI and 6.0 CFM @ 40 PSI and a maximum of 135PSI to power different air tools and inflate tires. The pump runs quietly, so you won’t experience any noise pollution when using this machine. This compressor features a 20-gallon ASME-certified vertical tank, which gives you sufficient time for any project you may need it for!
Furthermore, NorthStar’s single-stage portable electric air compressor has a built-in regulator which helps maintain pressure output while also protecting your tools from damages due to fluctuating power supply. The air outlet size is ¼” NPT”.
This compressor is also mobile. It has two oversized wheels on the bottom for mobility. The tires are flat-free solid for ultimate performance and durability. Thanks to the large front handle, moving it around is convenient. A portability kit comes along with it. NorthStar has a 4-year consumer limited warranty and a 2-year commercial limited warranty on this compressor. You can also extend the warranty to 5 years if you purchase a NorthStar start-up kit with it.
- It functions with a dual voltage induction motor with a belt drive for quiet operation.
- It comes with two big wheels and a large front handle for moving it around.
- The manufacturer has a 4-year consumer limited warranty and a 2-year commercial limited warranty on it.
5. PORTER-CABLE C2002 OIL-FREE PANCAKE Air Compressor
The Porter-cable C2002 oil-free pancake air compressor is a high-quality, affordable option for DIYers and mechanics alike. It is a conveniently sized air compressor that features oil-free operation, allowing you to work in the garage with little or no cleaning. Its small size makes it easy to store, and its shroud handle makes it easy to carry around when needed.
This compressor features durable cast iron construction that will stand the test of time while providing increased durability over aluminum or plastic designs. It has the power to get the job done! However, it is loud.
The C2002 oil-free Pancake air compressor functions with 10 amps 120V motor that delivers exceptional power even in cold weather. It is equipped with an oil-free pump that offers up to 15% more power than similar models on the market. The pump 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI and a maximum pressure of 150 PSI put it on number five in our list as one of the best small but mighty air compressors out there!
Furthermore, this compressor features two built-in regulators with two factory-installed air couplers to support two tools at a time. Porter-Cable designed its 6-gallon tank to look like a pancake for easy transportation. Also, the tank has a water drain valve and non-slip feet for added convenience. One constant issue with the tank is that it gets empty fast, which shows signs of leakages.
- It is very portable.
- Its pump doesn’t use oil to work, making it free from mess.
- The compressor works well and fills up fast.
- It is very noisy.
- The tank may leak for no reason.
6. DEWALT DXCMV5048055 Two-Stage Cast Iron Industrial Air Compressor
Dewalt DXCMV5048055 two-stage cast iron industrial air compressor is a durable, heavy-duty compressor that will provide years of service for commercial and industrial use. It’s perfect for the professional mechanic or the do-it-yourselfer who wants to complete jobs at home like tire inflation, paint job, and lawn mowing. Its rugged cast iron design offers long life with minimal maintenance requirements.
This air compressor is equipped with a 5HP 230V TOPS high-efficiency motor that delivers excellent power and runs quietly. The motor has a thermal overload protection system for protection against voltage fluctuation and overheating. Dewalt also equipped this compressor with its patented oil-lubricated pump that provides longer life by running a cooler. Plus, they offer a free synthetic oil and a two-year warranty on the pump when you purchase the compressor.
The Dewalt DXCMV5048055 two-stage cast iron industrial air compressor delivers air 17 CFM at 175PSI and 17.9 CFM at 100PSI, offering 10% more airflow than previous models. Due to this, it can run multiple tools at the same time to increase work productivity. It has an integrated control panel that features two quick connections for using two air tools at once. And an adjustable regulator so you can set the pressure to suit your needs. Be informed that its nozzle fitting size is ¾”.
This compressor comes with a large 80-gallon vertical tank for prolonged use. One issue with it is that there are no replacement parts available to buy if any of its parts gets spoilt. However, Dewalt has a one-year warranty on all the compressor’s components, so you’re not out in the cold for very long!
- It comes with synthetic oil and a two-year warranty on the pump.
- You can run two air tools at the same time thanks to its dual outlets.
- Dewalt has a one-year warranty on all its parts.
- Heavy duty steel construction.
- It has a large 80-gallon tank.
- There are no replacement parts.
7. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor
The Makita MAC5200 Big Bore air compressor is an inexpensive, powerful, and versatile air compressor for the auto body technician, mechanic, or DIYer. It functions with a powerful 120V 3HP four-pole induction motor with a direct drive for enhanced power and low operating noise. The motor and pump produce up to 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI and 6.9 CFM at 40 PSI, which is enough to inflate tires and power pneumatic tools, including nail guns, sanders, and buffers. It can even deliver air at a maximum of 140PSI. Thanks to its built-in thermal overload protection, it doesn’t overheat.
This air compressor features two easy-to-read digital pressure gauges for the tank and regulator. It has two ¼” universal quick couplers for connecting two tools at the same time. Its pump is oil-lubricated and has a built-in cooler that prevents moisture from entering into it, ensuring it runs continuously. The 5.4-gallon air tank of this compressor is small, but it fills up fast.
The Makita MAC5200 Big Bore air compressor comes with cast iron cylinder sleeves & piston rings, a steel crankcase with integral oil pump assembly, and brass fittings for corrosion resistance. It runs quietly, making it very comfortable to use. This lightweight (88lb) compressor is easy to move with its large foldable handle and two rugged pneumatic wheels. It also has a tool hanger for storing tools and an air hose wrap that houses 50ft of 3/8″ air hose.
The only downside to this compressor is that it doesn’t work well in cold regions. So if you stay in a cold region, this might not be the best product for your needs because of its inability to withstand low temperatures and chilly winters.
- It is powerful, heavy-duty, and long-lasting.
- You can take it anywhere due to its portability, handle, and rugged wheels.
- It has two fittings for using two tools at the same time.
- This compressor is inexpensive and is well worth the money.
- It doesn’t work well in cold regions.
8. Stealth SAQ-12018 Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
The Stealth SAQ-12018 ultra-quiet air compressor is the quietest compressor on our list due to its innovative, noiseless system that produces less than 70 decibels when running. It functions with a 120v, 12 amp 1.8 HP industrial-grade induction motor that delivers the best performance of all Stealth air compressors. The motor is oil-free, so it doesn’t cause a mess and requires less maintenance. Stealth designed it to start in cold weather and low voltage, so you won’t have any issues using this compressor in any region.
This compressor housing is made from heavy-duty metal alloy to last for years. It delivers 6 Cubic Feet per Minute of compressed air @ 40 PSI and 5 CFM @ 90 PSI to inflate tires and power air tools such as angle grinder, cut-off tool, impact wrench, drill, hammer, sander, polisher, spray gun, tire machines, to mention a few. It can even reach a peak of 150 PSI. Furthermore, it comes with a dual-piston pump and a 20-gallon tank for continuous use. The time required for the pump to refill the tank when it is empty is just 70 seconds. Amazing right?
The Stealth SAQ-12018 ultra-quiet air compressor has two quick connect couplers for switching between two power tools. It features two readable pressure gauges, one for the tank pressure and the other for the outlet pressure. And a regulator knob to regulate the pressure to match that of your tools. This piston compressor comes with a 6ft cord for unrestricted use from a power outlet. With its 8” rubber wheels and rubber-reinforced grip, it is easy to maneuver around the auto body workshop, garage, or on a worksite.
- It runs very quietly and refills its tank in seconds.
- You can use it in cold regions and with low voltage.
- It comes with 8” rugged wheels and a rubberized handle for easy maneuvering.
- The compressor is heavy-duty and supports two power tools at a time.
9. Rolair (VT25BIG) Air Compressor
The Rolair (VT25BIG) air compressor has the highest air output of any air compressor Rolair has made to date. This wheelbarrow-like compressor induction 115V, 13.8 amp 2.5HP motor is a powerful workhorse. It moves at a speed of 3400 RPM to supply enough power to the single-stage oil-lubricated cast-iron cylinder tank to deliver air 6.5 CFM @ 90 PSI and, at maximum, 130 PSI. The motor has automatic overload protection with a manual reset to protect it from overheating. However, the motor is loud (86db).
This Rolair air compressor comes equipped with a 5.3 gallons tank. It features an easy-to-use control panel with two pressure gauges and two quick-connect couplers so you can use two tools at once. However, the couplers point upward, so dust and dirt get into it, and it’s kind of unsafe when unplugging a long hose.
This great air compressor comes with sturdy wheels that can move on any terrain and a foldable handle with a rubber grip for effortless handling. Thanks to the folding property of the handle it’s easy to store. It is heavy, weighing 108lb, but its tires and two front feet make it well balanced. When you buy it, it comes along with a 10-ounce synthetic oil.
The issues with it are its drain valve location that’s hard to reach and that of the couplers mentioned above. Also, know that this compressor won’t work well for you in producing compressed air if you stay in a cold area.
- It is well-made.
- It has an easy-to-use control panel.
- Large wheels with a foldable handle for moving from one place to another.
- It makes a lot of noise when running.
- The couplers point upward, which means dirt and debris can get into them.
10. BOSTITCH (BTFP02012) Pancake Air Compressor
Last on the list is the BOSTITCH (BTFP02012) pancake air compressor. This compressor is for the DIYers who want to do some automotive bodywork on their automobiles. It comes equipped with BOSTITCH patented high-efficiency motor that starts easily in any weather and extension cord application. The motor produces a noise of about 78 dBA when running.
Don’t let the size of this auto body air compressor fool you. It features an industrial-grade pump that supplies air 2.6 CFM @ 90 PSI and at a maximum of 150 PSI. The pump is oil-free, which means it is maintenance-free and will last for years. The BOSTITCH (BTFP02012) pancake air compressor 6-gallon pancake-shaped tank will serve you for hours because it refills quickly. It has two pressure gauges with a regulator that helps you set the air pressure to your requirements.
Thanks to the dual universal quick-connect couplers it comes with, you can use two air tools simultaneously. With a weight of 29lb, it won’t give you any issue when you need to transport it to a site or store it in your garage.
As good as this air compressor is, BOSTITCH has terrible quality control, so they tend to release tons of it to the market defective. Regardless of the offered one-year limited warranty, if you get this compressor, ensure you test it thoroughly before the return window closes.
- It’s oil-free and maintenance-free.
- You can use it with two air tools at the same time.
- Its motor works in any weather
- Compact size air compressor is lightweight and easy to transport.
- It is noisy.
- There are tons of this air compressor released to the market defective.
Best Air Compressor for Auto Body Work Buying Guide
Air compressors are essential to any automotive body shop. You want to make sure that you get the right air compressor that will suit your needs and budget. To help you with that, we have prepared this buying guide that discusses in detail a few factors to consider before buying an air compressor for your auto body shop.
There are two types of air compressor motors, namely gas-powered motors and electric-powered motors. These motors are powerful and effective, but a few things distinguish one from the other.
The air compressors with a gasoline-powered motor require everyday maintenance to keep running effectively and are heavily weighted. On the other hand, air compressors with an electrical-powered motor require little or no maintenance.
Buying an air compressor with an electric motor will save you a lot of stress in the long run. Some even say the electric-powered air compressor has more power than its counterpart. Luckily for you, all the air compressors we have reviewed run on electric motors, so you have different options to pick from.
Air compressors’ motor power is measured in horsepower. It is what determines the efficiency of an air compressor for auto bodywork. It should never be overlooked, but instead considered before deciding on which model to purchase.
Noise is an important factor to consider when buying an air compressor. The noise level of all the models on the market varies greatly. It can range from as low as 60 dB to as high as 85 dB. Buying an air compressor that produces less noise will make your working environment conducive, which will increase productivity.
The air compressors’ pump is another factor to consider because it is what does the main function of the compressor. There are two types of air compressor pumps, namely oil-lubricated and oil-free pumps. There are only two differences between them, and that’s cleanup and maintenance. If you go for a compressor with an oil-lubricated pump, you’ll need to clean up messes and do maintenance periodically. However, if you go for the oil-free pump, there won’t be any mess to clean up.
PSI & CFM Rating:
Air compressors are categorized by the amount of pressure they produce (PSI) and how much air they can move per minute (CFM). To determine the appropriate air compressor, you need to think about the tools you will use with it.
Note that air compressors produce higher CFM at lower pressures and lower CFM at higher pressures. Also, some air compressors come with a pressure regulator that will help you regulate air output to suit different tools.
When it comes to air tanks, we all know that the bigger the size, the bigger the pressurized air volume it can store. However, if the compressor’s pump and the motor are producing as much air as you need, you will be able to use the compressor for as long as you want, irrespective of the tank size.
Larger tanks compressors require the compressor to run less often because they can meet the pressure needed without being replenished for a longer period — While smaller tanks compressors will run more as air is used to refill the pressurized air tank. The standard of measurement for tank sizes is gallons.
Auto body shops can use two types of air compressors, namely, portable and stationary. It is important to think about how much space you have available for air tanks that come with the compressor. Some air compressors even come with wheels and ergonomic handles for moving them around the workshop.
Type of hose fittings:
Before you buy any air compressor, ensure the quick connect coupler it comes with is compatible with your tools. Some air compressors even come with two quick-connect couplers so that users can use two air tools at the same time.
Buying an air compressor should not be taken lightly. It can cost from $250-$2,000 depending on the brand and its features.
So before deciding which one to purchase, make sure to think about your needs and how often you plan on using your compressor. Some rotary screw compressors can cost even more but those are usually for industrial usage.
Check our guide on best air compressor for painting cars, if that’s what you are going to do after buying one.
If you’re looking for a reliable air compressor that will help you with your auto bodywork, we recommend that you consider any one of the options we have reviewed. Each of the air compressors that made it on our list is designed for automotive use.
We considered power, pressure, durability, and price when selecting each of these air compressors. We have also discussed some factors to consider before buying an air compressor that’s right for your needs. All in all, we hope that we have been able to narrow down your options and help you make an informed purchase.