Can I Use 10w30 in My Air Compressor?

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

An air compressor is becoming a household item many people can’t miss having. Air compressors need the addition or replenishment of oil. We’re here to help you figure out can I use 10w30 in my air compressor?

Can I Use 10w30 in My Air Compressor?

No, you can’t use 10w30 in your air compressor. The detergent in 10W30 can stick to the cranks of your air compressor and prevent lubrication of the ball bearings and seriously damage it. Air compressors require detergent-free oil.

Different brand of motor oils displayed

So, if you can’t use any oil in your air compressor, what are the best oil alternatives for these machines? The oil should reduce friction between the parts, allowing the machine to operate more smoothly and efficiently for a longer time.

Characteristics of Air Compressor Oils

Putting the wrong oil in your air compressor may cause it not to run at all. There are three qualities of compressor oils you can find in the market:

  • High-Quality Oil. It is thicker than other types because it is made with a higher viscosity index (VI); remains viscous at low temperatures.
  • Low-Quality Oil. It gets thinner with cool temperatures because it is lower VI values.
  • Synthetic Oil. They are not affected by temperature as much.

Many air compressors require high-quality oil to function correctly. Let us quickly guide you on the features to look for when selecting oil for your air compressor:

Heat Limit

The temperature of the motor parts is stabilized by the air compressor oil, which is one of its tasks. Oil for air compressors must withstand the high heat temperatures generated by engines without becoming unstable.

The air compressor manufacturers should provide information on how high the engine temperature can go. This will assist you in selecting an oil that will resist the conditions.

Corrosion Additives

Anti-rust or anti-corrosion additives are placed into compressor oils to extend the machine’s life. Using motor oils with detergent ingredients can be risky, even if they can move grit and dust specks around the machine. The enclosed conditions of an air compressor motor are not ideal for detergent additives.

Oil Consistency

The operating conditions of the engine will determine the oil thickness. Warmer parameters need a thicker oil viscosity. The viscosity of the synthetic air compressor oil is excellent, as it smoothly runs the engine and it flows steadily.

Motor oils displayed on top of glass

What Oil to Use With Your Air Compressor

Most of the time, it’s best to stick to the recommendations of your air compressor manufacturer. That is because they’ll know better than anyone else about what’s likely to work well in your machine.

Yet, based on our research, we’ve discovered that the following oils function really well in air compressors – so let’s take a closer look:

Synthetic Oils

Synthetic compressor oil is designed for professionals or those who use their compressors regularly—particularly those who use their compressors at least three times a week.

Synthetic oils provide superior protection from overheating, a broader temperature range for colder conditions, and the ability to make the compressor run smoother and quieter. It is critical to make sure that any synthetic oil you use is made explicitly for air compressors before using it.

As any other person would, you will want to go for the best synthetic oil for your air compressor. You may consult your manufacturer’s website for more details on your air compressor’s specific requirements.

Hydraulic Oils

Hydraulic oils and fluids have a steady viscosity and are already pretty corrosion-resistant. Hydraulic oils’ low viscosity does not vary with temperature. It is ideal for various lubricating parts when the temperature drops.

This indicates that it will flow freely through the air compressor sections. Hydraulic oils are a good choice if you consider storing your air compressor during the winter season.

Empty motor oils container in different color

Oil With High Viscosity

When air compressors are put under extreme pressure, viscous oil (thick at high temperatures) is likely to perform well. As a result, while looking for air compressor oil that’s made for your equipment, select a viscosity-rich blend.

Locating temperature-resistant oil is more important because air compressors can get quite hot. At low temperatures, oil with a low viscosity can also work well. Make sure to get an excellent all-around choice.

0w20 and 5w30 are among the motor oils with low viscosity.

When to Add Oil to Your Air Compressor

It’s unlikely that you’ll need to add oil unless you have an older compressor that leaks. You should change the oil in reciprocating air compressors every three months.

Make every 7000-8000 hours of service for rotary screw types a routine. At the very least, once a year is excellent.

Related Questions

People on the internet inquiring about air compressor oils often wonder:

Can I Use Engine Oil in an Air Compressor?

You may use a regular weight motor oil and, it may suffice. However, running a multi-viscosity oil in a compressor is not recommended because it can produce foaming. The best option is to use a 20W or 30W oil.

What Is the Difference Between Compressor Oil and Motor Oil?

Motor oil contains detergents that aid in the cleaning of engine components. Air compressor oil is designed to lubricate moving parts without including detergents.


Motor oil for automobile engines, such as 10W30, should not be used in air compressors. It contains detergents that emulsify, causing significant engine damage and blockage. For air compressors, the best option is to use an all-weather synthetic oil.