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Air compressor Oils and Lubricants


The right lubricants can enhance the efficiency, power, and life expectancy of your air compressor. It’s essential that you do not use the wrong oils and lubricants for the integrity of your machine. But what oils should you use? This blog explores the different types of lubricants and which to choose. For more information, contact an air compressor maintenance technician.

Types of Air Compressor Lubricants

Air compressors, like all equipment with moving parts, require lubrication to operate smoothly and avoid excessive wear. Here’s your guide to the variety of lubricants available:

Synthetic Oils

Known for their high performance in extreme temperatures, synthetic oils are engineered to meet the most rigorous operating conditions. They offer excellent lubrication and longevity, making them ideal for heavy industrial applications. Synthetic oils bring stability, resisting breakdown and extending maintenance intervals.

Semi-Synthetic Oils

Semi-synthetic oils are a blend of synthetic and mineral oils. They can be more cost-effective than pure synthetics without compromising too much on performance. The cost saving while still receiving a synthetic blend makes semi-synthetic oils popular for air compressor owners.

Mineral Oils

Mineral oils are traditional lubricants suitable for standard operating conditions. They offer good lubrication but may require shorter change intervals than synthetic options. They are an economical choice and serve as a solid baseline for those with less demanding compressor needs.

How Lubricants Impact Your Compressor’s Life and Performance

Reduced Friction, Increased Efficiency

Applying the right lubricant lowers the friction between moving parts, which translates directly to energy savings. Reduced friction also means less heat is generated during operation, contributing to the overall efficiency of your compressor.

Wear Prevention

Regularly changing the oil or maintaining the correct level of lubricant is a crucial step in preventing wear on critical components such as the bearing, piston rings, and cylinders. Protecting these parts means a longer and healthier life for your compressor. 

Contamination Control

Lubricants can act as a barrier, preventing contaminants from entering the compressor. Whether it’s dirty air entering through the intake or tiny metal particles from wear, a good lubricant can help keep these at bay and maintain the purity of the compressed air output.

Oil and Lubricant Selection

Choosing the right oil or lubricant for your air compressor is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It requires careful consideration of various factors, including the compressor type, manufacturer recommendations, and your specific operating environment. Here’s a checklist to guide your selection:

Manufacturer’s Recommendations

Always start with the manufacturer’s guidelines. They have intimate knowledge of their machines and can provide the best advice on which oils or lubricants are compatible with your air compressor model.

Viscosity Ratings

Understanding viscosity – a fluid’s resistance to flow – is essential. Compressors operating in different temperature ranges require oils with different viscosity ratings to ensure adequate flow and protection.

Additives and Antiwear Properties

Look for oils with additives that enhance performance, such as increased oxidation resistance, anti-foaming characteristics, and improved detergency. Antiwear properties, including zinc or molybdenum, can offer extra protection for compressor parts.

The Maintenance

Implementing a maintenance schedule is essential to the health and productivity of your air compressor. The following is a maintenance schedule that can help.

Regular Oil Analysis

Analyzing used oil samples can provide insights into the condition of your compressor. It’s a proactive approach to maintenance, identifying potential issues before they become costly problems.

Change the Oil

Knowing when to change the oil is more of an art than a science. Use the manufacturer’s guidelines as a starting point, but consider the compressor’s age, usage, and operating environment for more personalized intervals.

Keep It Clean

Before adding new oil, ensure the compressor is clean. This means draining the old oil properly, cleaning out any residue, and changing the filters or separators.

Optimizing maintenance schedules and procedures can have a significant impact on the lifetime operational cost of your air compressor. There are also ways to save money which being a responsible air compressor owner. You can buy your oils and lubricants in bulk. Investing is higher quality oil is also smart as it prevents potential damage. Always make sure you are following the maintenance guide for your air compressor while keeping detailed records. Pacific Air Compressors can help with the air compressor maintenance when your equipment is damaged. You can also shop our products online. For installation or maintenance questions, give us a call at (503) 674-2744 or reach out to us online. The team at Pacific Air Compressors in Portland, Oregon looks forward to hearing from you!


Dear valued customers,

We normally keep all our inventory in stock. However, due to backorders from many of our vendors and parts shortages, some items that we have listed may not be in stock or could have a long lead time although they show as available on our store. If you need your items right away, please call or e-mail to ensure availability.