It is true that any perfect job takes a lot of effort, but using the right tools makes it worthwhile. This is what you need to keep in mind when it comes to painting cars.
You will need a quality paint sprayer and a powerful air compressor to provide the required high-pressure air the sprayer requires to work effectively.
A powerful air compressor will help control overspray, reduce noise by not blasting paint around, and get the job done faster with better quality.
However, these compressors can vary significantly in price, performance, and quality, making them difficult to choose from.
In this article, we will be reviewing 10 of the best air compressors for painting cars on the market today. If you make it to the end of the article, you will have all the information to buy an air compressor suitable for your needs.
Ingersoll Rand SS5 Single Stage Air Compressor
California Air Tools CAT-60040CAD Ultra Quiet 60 Gal Compressor
DEWALT DXCMV5048055 Two-Stage Industrial Air Compressor
Industrial Air IL1682066.MN Belt Driven Air Compressor
Rolair (VT25BIG) Air Compressor
Our 10 Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars:
1. Ingersoll Rand SS5 Single Stage Air Compressor
If you are into power tools, you must have heard about Ingersoll Rand. This company has been around for over 100 years, producing nothing but tools of premium quality. The SS5 single-stage air compressor is one of their premium tools. A 5HP single-phase quiet (78 dB) motor with automatic start, manual thermal overload protection, and manual reset gives the SS5 single-stage air compressor a strong performance.
The SS5 air compressor has precision-engineered components, cast-iron cylinders, heads, and frames built for the toughest applications. It is versatile, easy to use, and will be a great addition to your shop or garage. The manufacturer recommends having it hardwired and using a 60 amp dual pull breaker.
Furthermore, it comes with a cast-iron pump that delivers air with a powerful flow of 18.1 CFM @ 90 PSI and a maximum of 15.5 CFM @ 135 PSI. It has a ½” air NPT outlet. Ingersoll Rand claims the pump is rated 100% continuous duty and can supply air continuously for 5000 hours. However, the pump develops serious faults when it runs for hours.
That said, the Ingersoll Rand SS5 single-stage air compressor comes with a 60-gallon ASME vertical tank. It features an easy-to-change filter, oil sight gauge, and easy-to-fill oil port for smooth operation and maintenance. Be informed that it doesn’t come with oil, an air pressure regulator, and an electrical cable.
- This air compressor pump can run continuously for 5,000 hours without any fault.
- It has an ASME-certified vertical tank of 60 gallons.
- Its noise level is 78 dB, making it a quiet air compressor.
- Its pump air delivery is 18.1 CFM @ 90 PSI and 15.5 CFM @ 135 PSI.
- It doesn’t come with oil, an air pressure regulator, or an electrical cable.
- It develops faults when run continuously for hours.
2. California Air Tools CAT-60040CAD Ultra-Quiet Compressor
The California Air Tools cat-60040cad compressor is arguably the quietest 4HP compressor you’ll find in today’s market. It functions with two 220V, 60 Hertz, single phase, 2.0 HP motors that operate at a maximum speed of 1680 RPM, which produces a noise level of 75 dB. The motors have an increased duty cycle, allowing them to have a longer continuous run time with a low amp draw of 40 amps.
One of the best features of this air compressor is the oil-free dual-piston pump system it comes with, which means it won’t need maintenance and clean-up like the oil-based air compressors. The oil-free pump system delivers air with a flow of 10.60 CFM @ 90 PSI and 12.60 CFM @ 40 PSI.
The California Air Tools cat-60040cad compressor comes equipped with a 60-gallon steel ASME air tank to take on demanding projects. Its accessories include a pressure gauge, a 5-micron air filter for removing dirt from the air before going to the hose, and a ⅜” air hose port. There are also three extra air filters for replacement included in its packaging. Please know that, as good as this air compressor is, it cannot handle heavy-duty applications.
Furthermore, the California Air Tools cat-60040cad compressor features an auto drain valve that prevents corrosion by draining air every two minutes while the compressor is running. There’s also a manual drain valve should you want to drain out air from the tank manually. Unlike the Ingersoll Rand SS5 air compressor, it comes with a Nema 6-15P power cord. And the manufacturer, California Air Tools, has a one-year limited warranty on it.
- The oil-free compressor runs quietly and requires low or no maintenance.
- Auto drain valve drains air from the tank at two minutes intervals when in use to prevent rusting.
- It comes equipped with a 60-gallon steel ASME air tank, a pressure gauge, a 5-micron air filter, and a NEMA 6-15P power cord.
- It doesn’t have enough power for heavy-duty use.
3. DEWALT DXCMV5048055 Industrial Air Compressor
The DEWALT DXCMV5048055 industrial air compressor offers industrial-grade performance, delivering maximum power to run several air tools. This air compressor functions with a 5-HP, 230V, 22 amps TOPS motor that produces exceptional performance and longevity. The electric motor features a thermal overload prevention mechanism to guarantee dependable and safe operation. However, the motor is so loud (83 dB) that you’ll need hearing protection if you mount it in your workshop or garage.
Thanks to its vertical large-capacity 80 gallon ASME air tank, you will have all the punch you need for continuous heavy-duty jobs. One thing to note is that the drain valve of this air compressor is underneath the tank, which makes it hard to drain air from the tank. A hack to this is to install a drain extension.
The DEWALT DXCMV5048055 industrial air compressor features a two-stage reciprocating cast-iron pump with a unique piston construction and cooling vents for enhanced heat dissipation. The pump delivers air with a flow rate of 17 CFM @ 175 PSI and 17.9 CFM @ 100 PSI. Be informed that it is oil-lubricated and comes with synthetic blended oil already installed from the factory.
At the top of this air compressor is a built-in control panel that houses a tank pressure gauge, a working pressure gauge, a pressure regulator, a pressure release valve, and two air outlets (¾”) for total user control. No power cord comes with it. You can either wire it to a plug or hardwire it directly to a breaker, preferably, a 60 amps breaker. DEWALT has a two-year limited warranty on the pump and a one-year warranty on the rest of the compressor.
- It has two air outlets for using two tools at the same time.
- The air compressor comes with a two-stage pump.
- It features a control panel that makes it very easy to use.
- There’s a two-year limited warranty on the pump and a one-year warranty on the rest of the compressor.
- It doesn’t come with a power cord.
- This air compressor is ear-splitting.
4. Industrial Air IL1682066.MN Belt Driven Air Compressor
The Industrial Air IL1682066.MN belt-driven air compressor is designed with heavy-duty components that are guaranteed to withstand heavy use. It has a low-noise 1.6 HP induction motor pre-wired for a regular 120-Volt outlet but convertible to 240-Volt. Note that it requires a full 15 amp outlet to run. Although, you can use a 20 amp dedicated circuit with 12 gauge wire and a 20 amp outlet to be safer.
This air compressor comes equipped with a V-twin, cast-iron, oil-lubricated pump with a head and valve plate made from aluminum to help with cooling. The pump delivers air with a flow rate of 6. 2 CFM @ 40 PSI and 5.3 CFM @ 90 PSI, making the air compressor capable of powering many air tools. This air compressor 20-gallon vertical tank is small, which means you’ll have to pause in-between jobs for it to refill. Plus, the drain valve location beneath the tank makes it hard to drain liquid.
The Industrial Air IL1682066.MN belt-driven air compressor ergonomic design is one of its best features. It has a control panel at the top that grants you easy access to a fast-set regulator, tank and tool pressure gauges, a quick-connect air outlet, and an on/off switch. Also, it has two pneumatic wheels, a compact footprint, and front handles for mobility around the shop or garage.
When you buy this air compressor, you’ll get synthetic oil and a two-year limited warranty on it.
- The air compressor is not noisy.
- It comes with a dual voltage feature that allows you to use it either in a 120V outlet or 240V outlet.
- It has two pneumatic wheels, a compact footprint, and front handles for mobility and easy transportation.
- This air compressor has a user-friendly control panel.
- Low tank capacity.
- Its tank is too small to support continuous use.
5. Rolair (VT25BIG) Air Compressor
The Rolair (VT25BIG) air compressor is not only portable, but it is also powerful. It has the largest air production of any Rolair direct drive air compressors. This large air production is due to its 2.5 HP motor (115 Volt, 60 Hz ) that moves at 3400 RPM to produce enough power for the pump to supply air continuously. The motor features a low-amp draw, overload protection with manual reset, and industrial-grade ball-bearings for long service years. However, owing to its 86db noise level, you will require hearing protection when it’s running.
The Rolair (VT25BIG) air compressor pump single-stage delivers air with a flow rate of 6.5 CFM @ 90 PSI. The pump features a cast-iron cylinder, solid stainless-steel reed valves, and splash lubrication for longevity and durability. Rolair sells this air compressor with its pump filled with 10 oz synthetic oil. A control panel on the top of the Rolair (VT25BIG) air compressor provides quick access to two pressure gauges (regulator and tank), two air outputs, and a drain valve.
Thanks to its foot-activated telescoping handle and heavy-duty flat-free wheels, the VT25BIG is easy to navigate around the job site. However, the portability of this air compressor doesn’t come without a compromise. To make it portable, Rolair had to equip it with a small 5.3-gallon air tank. This implies that while working, you’ll have to take breaks to allow the tank to replenish.
- This air compressor is portable and powerful.
- It comes with a foot-activated telescoping handle and heavy-duty flat-free wheels for easy mobility around the job site.
- It has a user-friendly control panel.
- You can connect two tools at the same time, thanks to its dual air outlet.
- It makes a lot of noise when in operation.
- It has a small tank.
6. Quincy QT-54 Reciprocating Air Compressor
The Quincy QT-54 reciprocating air compressor delivers more compressed air with less power. It’s a single-stage air compressor that’s ideal for both industrial and DIY projects around the house or garage. This two-stage air compressor is powered by a one-phase 5 HP, 230 Volt industrial-grade motor spinning at 1310 RPM to deliver ample power for demanding tasks. The motor has built-in thermal overload protection for safety.
Furthermore, this air compressor pump features a cast-iron cylinder, crankshaft, and valve plate. It delivers air with a flow rate of 15.4 CFM @ 100 PSI and 15.2 CFM @ 175 PSI. The manufacturer, Quincy, has given it an impressive 30,000-hour pump life rating. That means you can use this pump for more than three years. Also, the pump comes filled with oil and an aluminum head & fin design that aids in heat dissipation, allowing the compressor to run as cool as possible for extended life. Note, you can only connect an air hose of ½” to this compressor.
The Quincy QT-54 reciprocating air compressor has a vertical 80-gallon tank for continuous use. Its overall dimension is 29” L x 21” W x 64” H. Quincy has a one-year warranty on it. However, you can extend the warranty by two years if you purchase their warranty kit along with the air compressor.
- It is an industrial-grade air compressor.
- This air compressor pump is rated 30,000-hour pump life.
- The perfect air compressor has a quiet motor.
- There’s a one-year warranty on it.
7. Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V Two-Stage Air Compressor (200/3)
Ingersoll Rand makes our list again, this time around with their two-stage 2340L5-V air compressor. There’s not much difference between this one and the SSL earlier reviewed other than the SSL having a single-stage mechanism, while this one has a two-stage mechanism. That said, this 2340L5-V air compressor will endure a lifetime in your garage or workshop due to its precision-built components for easy maintenance and servicing.
This air compressor has an overall dimension of 32” L x 21” W x 69” H and a weight of 400lb. It functions with a 5HP industrial-grade 100% continuous duty quiet ODP motor (with 200V, 3 phases) designed for industrial and DIY use. This air compressor has three voltage configurations. You can either get it in 200V/3 phases, 230V/3phases, or 460V/3phases. So, ensure you pick the one that’s available in your building.
The Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V two-stage air compressor has a cast-iron pump rated for 15,000 hours without fault. The pump supplies air with a flow rate of 14.3 CFM @ 175 PSI and 14.3 CFM @ 90 PSI to power air-hungry tools. Thanks to the radial fins that provide 360° cylinder cooling, the machine doesn’t experience overheating.
This air compressor has a ½” NPT air outlet. It comes with a 60-gallon vertical ASME receiver tank, similar to the SSL, which allows you to work continuously. Ingersoll Rand has a one-year warranty on this air compressor. Although, you can extend the warranty to three years by purchasing their all-season select lubricant start-up kit along with the compressor.
- It is a 100% continuous-duty industrial air compressor.
- It is very durable and easy to service due to its precision-built components.
- Noiseless operation.
- Ingersoll has a one-year warranty on it.
8. Campbell Hausfeld Vertical Portable Air Compressor (XC302100)
The Campbell Hausfeld vertical portable air compressor (XC302100) is for the DIYers, professionals, and contractors that need a portable air compressor to power a range of air equipment. It is driven by a 2HP dual-voltage motor, which can run on either 120V/240V, 15amps/7.5amps electricity. So, you can use it in many places. Note that it doesn’t come with a cord, so you’d have to hardwire it to a dedicated breaker, preferably 30amps or 40 amps.
This air compressor will last up to 5,000 hours for tough operations like paint spraying, sanding, grinding, stapling, nailing, to name a few. Furthermore, it features a cast-iron, oil-lubricated, two-stage, two-cylinder pump for maximum power output with low noise. The pump comes filled with oil and delivers 4.1 Cubic Feet per Minute @ 90 Pounds Per Square Inch and 3.9 CFM @ 175 PSI. Thanks to the 30-gallon compressor’s tank, you can work continuously. Its outlet port size is ¾” NPT.
The Campbell Hausfeld vertical portable air compressor (XC302100) is equipped with big semi-pneumatic wheels and a handle for easy mobility around the Jobsite. Campbell Hausfeld has a three-year warranty on it.
- This portable and lightweight model comes with wheels for easy maneuvering around the workshop.
- There’s a three-year warranty on it.
- This air compressor motor has dual voltage.
- Great for paint job, especially car painting.
9. NorthStar Electric Air Compressor
The NorthStar electric air compressor is a versatile option for DIYers and professionals who need a reliable air compressor. It is equipped with a heavy-duty 3.7 HP, 230V, 15 amp induction motor that spins silently at 3,450 RPM for optimum performance and durability. The motor has a 75% duty cycle and a noise level of 80 dB.
This air compressor features a one-piece cast iron oil-lubricated pump with robust Swedish stainless steel reed valves that deliver cleaner air for tools. It supplies air with a flow of 11.5 CFM @ 90 PSI & 40 PSI, and at maximum, 135 PSI. The pump life has a 1500-hour rating. In addition, the 60-gallon vertical ASME tank of this air compressor provides enough air storage for longer worksite runtime.
The NorthStar electric air compressor is easy to use thanks to the pressure gauge and on/off switch at the top side. It has a ¾” quick-connector, and overall dimensions of 31″ L x 27″ W x 70″ H, and a weight of 247lb.
- It is a heavy-duty air compressor.
- It is easy to use with paint sprayers.
- It supplies air with a flow of 11.5 CFM @ 90 PSI & 40 PSI, and at maximum, 135 PSI.
- Noisier than most other compressors.
10. DEWALT Air Compressor (D55146)
The DEWALT air compressor (D55146) is the last on our list. It is driven by a 120V, 1.6HP EHP (efficient high-pressure technology) motor, which moves with a 1,750 RPM to produce a bearable noise level of 78 dB. You can hold a conversation and listen to music while it’s running. This electric air compressor is meant for light-duty jobs. It doesn’t come with a power cord, so you’ll have to wire one to it. Note that it requires a minimum of 12 gauge, 50 ft extension cord.
The DEWALT air compressor (D55146) is part of the few air compressors equipped with an oil-free pump that requires little or no maintenance. The pump air delivery is 5 CFM @ 90 PSI, 4.9 CFM @ 100 PSI, 6.5 CFM @ 40 PSI, and 3 CFM @ 200 PSI. DEWALT built this air compressor with a 4.5-gallon tank, which is small. However, the tank can store at a maximum pressure of 225 PSI, providing 80% more usable air than compressors with the same tank size.
The overall dimension of the DEWALT air compressor (D55146) is 33.5″ L x 23″ W x 15″ H, and it weighs 83lb. It has a control panel that allows easy access to two 2” pressure gauges, a pressure regulator, and two quick connect couplers of ¼” NPT size. However, the on/off switch location is hard to reach. Furthermore, it features a vertical stand, telescoping handle, and 10″ non-flat pneumatic tires for easy transportation around the Jobsite. Although, the wheels don’t last long.
- It comes with a vertical stand, telescoping handle, and 10″ non-flat pneumatic tires for easy transportation.
- It has a bearable noise level of 78 dB.
- This air compressor is equipped with an oil-free pump.
- It doesn’t come with a power cord.
- The wheels don’t last long.
- The on/off switch is in a hard-to-reach location.
Looking for a complete package that you can use for any tasks? Check our guide on the best air compressor for auto body work.
Many people use air compressors for various things, and painting cars is one of the most popular. With a good one, you can paint a car in record time and with minimal effort. It will also help save money as it is more cost-effective than hiring professionals for the same task.
The more expensive air compressors are usually geared towards the professional. They are robust and will be able to take on any task you throw at them. If you want something of high power, then you’d have to spend more.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what your needs are and what you want out of an air compressor. But each air compressor on our list will help you paint cars effortlessly. Happy shopping!