Best Air Compressors for Painting Cars – 2021 Guide

Cody
| Last Updated: January 30, 2021

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Painting your car is hard enough without being confused about what compressor works best. In today’s article, we’ll go over some of the spray painting requirements and even recommend a few air compressors for you. 

Hoping to cut right to the chase? Below are the best air compressors for painting cars:

  1. Ingersoll Rand P1.5IU-A9
  2. DeWalt DXCMPA1982054
  3. Wen 2202

Comparison Chart of the Air Compressors for Painting Cars

Product

Main Features

Price

Ingersoll Rand P1.5IU-A9

  • Only 80dB
  • Heavy-duty ergonomic handle
  • Long service interval (2000 hours)

DeWalt DXCMPA1982054

  • 155 PSI max pressure
  • Simple and intuitive controls
  • Convertible between 120V and 240V

Wen 2202

  • Best for the Money
  • Dual pressure gauges
  • Two year manufacturer warranty

Stealth  SAQ-12018

  • Editor's Pick
  • Up to 150 peak PSI
  • Noise level is low (68dB)

California Air Tools 10020C

  • Honorable Mention
  • Low maintenance oil-free pump
  • Can run for up to 60 minutes depending on circumstances

Air Compressor Requirements For Spray Painting 

Before you go ahead and start spray painting, there are a few important requirements to highlight to get the best quality spray painting experience possible. 

Oil-Free Air Compressors Are Best

Oil-free air compressors are commonly used with spray paint. The reason for this is there’s no risk of oil contamination. Oil-free air compressors are also used in medical procedures for this exact reason. There’s no risk of oil ruining your work. 

Make Sure The Tank is Big Enough 

When looking for an air compressor that will suit spray painting, you want to make sure the tank can provide enough continuous flow to carry out the job at hand without constantly refilling. 

PSI and CFM Are Important Aspects Of Spray Painting

The air compressor will also provide a certain PSI level and CFM, which has to match the PSI and CFM requirements of the spray gun you’re using. 

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need To Paint A Car?

To paint your car, you’ll have to do a few coats, which can take some time, so you’ll need a large enough tank to paint the car without constantly refilling efficiently. 

Can You Paint A Car With A 30 Gallon Air Compressor

It’s possible but not recommended as it’ll take much longer than necessary. Small tanks won’t be able to provide you with the large CFM requirements. If you decide to go ahead with a 30-gallon tank, you’ll need to drain the tank every couple of passes. 

What Is The Minimum Size Air Compressor For Painting A Car

A car typically takes three days to paint. Most experts recommend getting an air compressor with a 60-gallon tank or larger; the CFM should be a minimum of 14 to give you quality even spray. 

Review of the Best Air Compressors for Automotive Painting 

Now that we’ve described some of the requirements for painting a car, we’ve included some of our favorites that are currently available. 

Best Overall:
Ingersoll Rand P1.5IU-A9  

PROS

  • Easily transported around a worksite
  • The life expectancy of over 2000 Hours
  • 135 PSI will provide you with more than enough pressure
  • Less maintenance than a petroleum-based air compressor

CONS

  • You’ll need to drain the tank with every few passes of a car

Our Review 

A good candidate for painting a car. You’ll happily be using this air compressor for over 2000 hours without fail. If you’re working in a large body-shop, you can easily wheel the 200lb tank with it’s reinforced rubber wheels and ergonomic handles. 

The synthetic lubricant oil will also last four times longer than a petroleum-based lubricant. The only downside is that you’ll probably take longer to complete the paint job with a 20-gallon tank; you’ll be draining the tank every three or so passes also. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

The durability and long lifespan of this air compressor is a real standout feature. 2000 hours is a long time, even during continuous use. The structure is made from cast iron, you’ll be able to throw most things at this, and it wouldn’t leave a mark. Perfect for an industrial environment. 

Runner-up:
DeWalt DXCMPA1982054

PROS

  • Comes with synthetic oil already included
  • Cast iron body will protect against any accidents
  • Reinforced rubber tires allow for easy transport around a site
  • Has a maximum of 150 working pressure suitable for painting

CONS

  • You need to refill the tank often during use

Our Review 

You’ll have 150 PSI to play around with when using this air compressor, which is a suitable pressure for painting. If you’re using this in an industrial setting, you’ll be able to wheel it around with the reinforced tires carrying the burden of the 166lb tank. The cast iron body gives it the durability needed to survive on construction sites or mechanic garages. 

You’ll have synthetic oil come with the purchase, meaning you’ll have everything you need to get up and running as soon as it arrives. The only downside is that the 5.7CFM will struggle to keep up without refilling regularly. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

The body is a lot more compact and easy to store, meaning that you’ll be able to keep this compressor in almost any small compartment. Storage is an important part of owning an air compressor as many people don’t have much storage space these days. 

Best for the Money:
Wen 2202

PROS

  • Simple design makes it easy to use
  • 135 PSI provides the necessary pressure
  • Reinforced wheels to help transport the 80lb tank
  • The brass quick-connect coupler is corrosive resistant

CONS

  • The body dent’s fairly easily

Our Review 

The compressor in total weighs 80lbs, which is a sizable weight to have to carry around. However, the reinforced rubber tires help carry that burden. You’ll have no problem transporting it around the worksite. 

The gauges and different valves are all placed with convenience in mind; it won’t take long before you get the hang of it. The single brass coupler is a quick connection fitting as well as being corrosive resistant. The only problem here is that the body doesn’t really take a beating well and can dent easily. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

The standout feature is that you’re given the same high-quality but for a lower price. This product can even provide more quality than some really popular and reputable compressor brands out there. This would be ideal as a starter for anyone new to air compressors. 

Editor's Pick:
Stealth SAQ-12018

PROS

  • Super quiet at only 68 decibels
  • It requires just a 70-second refill
  • Oil-free means no contaminations
  • 8-inch reinforced rubber wheels to help transport 121lb tank

CONS

  • Can be dented easily

Our Review 

The 20-gallon tank emits 68 decibels, meaning that this compressor has a super-quiet operation, suitable for quiet environments. The refilling is only 70 seconds, meaning you’ll finish painting that car fairly quickly. 121lb weight can be a problem. 

However, the 8-inch reinforced rubber wheels quite literally carry that burden for you. The oil-free operation means that oil can’t contaminate your paint and ruin your work. The only downside is that the alloy metal can be easily dented. 

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

Two things make this product stand out, the first being the oil-free system that removes the risk of ruining your paint job with oil splashes—the other being that it can operate at just 68 decibels, super-quiet for any air compressor. 

Honorable Mention:
California Air Tools 10020C

PROS

  • Two universal quick couplers
  • Has a lifespan of over 3000 hours
  • Oil-free, which means no contamination of the paint
  • Reinforced rubber tires for easy transport of 82lb tank

CONS

  • 10-gallon tanks used for spray painting will require more refills

Our Review 

This California Air Tools air compressor will provide you with over 3000 hours of satisfaction and quality performance. The oil-free design means that you’ll not be risking oil contaminating your paint supply, which could ultimately ruin your work. The 10-gallon compressor weighs 82lbs, which is heavy, but the reinforced rubber tires take their fair share of this weight off the user. 

A decent bonus is the dual universal couplers; this allows two users to operate the compressor at once. The only downside is the 10-gallon tank will require more refills if being used for spray painting

What Makes This Product Stand Out? 

The universal dual couplers are the real standout feature for this compressor. Having two tools or users operating simultaneously can boost efficiency and overall productivity on projects and tasks like spray painting. 

Advantages of Investing in a Quality Air Compressor for Auto Body Work 

Air compressors can add value to your business. Below, we’ve included some of the common benefits that come with air compressor ownership.

It’s An Investment In Your Business 

Your business is your pride and joy, a bit like your firstborn. You want your business to thrive, and buying it high-quality tools will ensure your work is up to a high standard. A workman is only ever as good as his tools. These investments may be expensive, but they pay off in the long run. 

They Half Your Work Time 

You’ll never go back to doing tasks by hand after you get an air compressor. They half the time it takes to do things. You’ll then be able to spend this newfound time to do other important tasks, like taxes or booking in more jobs. 

They Can Be Used For Most Tasks

You don’t just need to use your brand new air compressor for painting cars. If it’s portable, it can be carried all over the workshop. Even if it isn’t just a longer hose and use it for sanding or other pneumatic tools like nailing or wrenching. 

Aspects to Consider Before Buying 

You have to consider the features that are required to run a compressor to paint cars. Below are some considerations to keep in mind before going ahead and buying an air compressor. 

  • PSI - A spray paint gun has to operate with a minimum of 100 PSI; most air compressors should provide this. If your air compressor can’t, it’ll constantly be playing catchup, and eventually, this will damage the compressor. 
  • CFM - Another important factor in running an air compressor to paint cars. The recommended minimum is 14 CFM. However, it is possible to operate at a lower rate, although you will notice a difference in airflow capabilities. 
  • Tank Size - The larger the tank, the better. If you’re using a 20-gallon tank, you’ll probably get one coat on the car and then have to drain and refill the tank. If that doesn’t bother you, feel free, but it’ll take much longer than necessary to complete the project. 

Conclusion

Painting a car hasn’t seemed so easy after that article. You’ve now got the information you need; you’re now ready to go ahead and paint. The key points to remember are that the bigger, the better in terms of PSI, CFM, and Tank Size. 

People Also Ask

You may have a few more questions to ask. That’s why we’ve compiled and answered some of the most commonly asked questions on Air compressors being used to paint cars. 

What Compressor Do I Need To Paint A Car

The best type for this task would be oil-free air compressors. This removes the chance of the oil contaminating your paint mixture and ultimately removing the risk of totally ruining a full day's work and having to start over. 

What Is Better Gas or Electric Air Compressor For Painting Cars

Gas air compressors tend to give you more power. Electrics are limited to the power supply. However, electricity is more than suitable for painting a car and cheaper than buying gas constantly. 

How Many CFM's on An Air Compressor For Painting Cars

It’s recommended you use a minimum of 14 CFM. However, you can use lower CFM ratings, but it’ll take longer to get to the finished project. 

Tools Needed To Paint A Car

There are a few things you need to paint a car successfully: 

  • You’ll need a well-ventilated area or even outdoors to paint a car.
  • Safety equipment such as goggles and painters mask to block toxic fumes. 
  • You’ll need to sand off the old paint using a sandblaster.
  • You’ll need primer, topcoat, and clear-coat lacquer. 
  • After the correct layers have been applied, you can begin to paint using your spray gun and various nozzle sizes, depending on how precise you need to be.
Cody

My name is Cody and I've been a writer for Tool Tango for quite some time now. I've always had a knack for building things with my hands and creative writing, so being able to combine the two has been great. I love being able to give back to the DIY-community, while also learning a thing or two along the way. When I'm not writing, I enjoy watching Netflix with my girlfriend, fishing, and working in the shop.