What is the Best Air Compressor for Painting a Car?

Choosing the right air compressor for painting cars can be overwhelming. Tons of options are available, and you can make a wrong choice without technical knowledge of how air compressors work. We know car enthusiasts love their cars and would only trust high-quality products. Our goal is to help you pick the best air compressor for painting cars.

What is an Air Compressor?

Air compressors translate power into pressurized air, used to power a spray gun or another power tool. Since air compressors have many applications, you must buy one specifically designed for spray guns. Otherwise, your compressor may need more power to complete the job.

Factors to Consider While Buying an Air Compressor

Factors to Consider While Buying an Air Compressor

Air compressors have wide-scale use, such as inflating tires, painting cars, using air wrenches, and more. Also, consider different factors before purchasing an air compressor. So, let us find out which air compressor will be a good fit for you.

CFM Output

Cubic feet per minute, or CFM, is the most critical element when choosing a compressor for painting cars. A compressor’s CFM represents the total error volume the compressor could generate. 

Every tool that uses error has a CFM prerequisite to operate correctly and at peak performance. For paint spray guns, particularly HVLP, which are most common in the paint market today when painting cars, you will want at least 15 CFM of compressor output to permit your spray gun to function correctly.

Air pressure

When using spray guns for big projects like car painting, the air pressure must be high sufficient to offer consistent results. Low pressure can place the paint droplets on in too big of a size, stopping the paint from laying down smoothly or causing runners to form.

Your sprayer will come with precise needs that should be followed cautiously regarding airflow, volume per minute, air pressure, or PSI. Having the right air pressure confirms that you can complete your car painting project effectively and smoothly, providing a high-quality finish to the car you are working on.

Clean, dry air

In addition to having sufficient CFM delivery from your compressor, you will want also to confirm the air conveyed by your compressor is clean and dry. 

When we mean clean and dry, we suggest that the air is free from water particulate, oil particulate, and for perfect results, even water vapor. You often want to include or consider adding a dryer system to your compressor. You could add a dryer to the compressor or drop it wherever the airline comes down to your painting part.


The horsepower of the air compressor is often considered with other common factors, including the phases, type of compressor, overall pressure, tank size, airflow, voltage, and similar issues. Overall, you will want an air compressor with about 3 horsepower for single-tool operations. Horsepower is tied to the common problems mentioned above, as larger horse motors will need higher voltage while providing greater airflow, higher pressure, and larger tanks.


Modern air compressors are designed to be lighter and more portable. The transportability necessities depend on your work atmosphere. Also, most air compressors are designed with wheels and handle for easy movement. 


It is important to confirm that the accurate fuel powers your compressor. These come in two variants: electric energy and gas-powered. Gas-powered compressors are extremely appropriate for heavy work, while simple electric air compressors are better suited for your DIY requirements. 

Electric air compressors are more budget-friendly and effective to use. The gas-powered air compressor has the benefit of being more versatile and trustworthy. However, you must avoid using gas-filled air compressors in enclosed spaces, as they tend to cause contamination. 

What Type of Air Compressors Are Best for Spray Painting Cars?

What Type of Air Compressors Are Best for Spray Painting Cars

There is hardly any air compressor precisely made for car painting. Thus, you have to be careful to avoid choosing the wrong one. No need to be worried, though. You must ask these three inquiries before settling on a particular unit. 

Pancake Compressors

Portability is a big issue for some users. We suggest you choose a compact-size pancake compressor if you are a beginner. Their specialty is the portable size with a round base. You can carry it with you anyplace. The largest tank size in this group is around 6 gallons.

In contrast, if you have an established workshop with lots of space. You can choose a big tank size (60 gallons) for lengthier run time and fewer refill breaks.

Oil-Free Compressors

The main advantage of an oil-free compressor is its ease of use. You can turn on the switch any time, plus get it spraying. Another massive benefit of oil-free compressors is their lightweight. As you spray at home, you would want something easy to carry. Instead, oiled compressors are rather heavy. However, they tend to be more robust and industry-friendly.

Noise-Free Compressors

You have to look at the noise level. Usually, every compressor has a decibel rating. The higher the number, the noisier it is. For example, a compressor with 90 DB of noise level produces more sound than one with 60 DB. It is basic.

You should check out this feature at last. You want to maintain a robust compressor with a high capacity since the sound is 5 DB higher.

Similar read: What Size Compressor Do I Need To Paint A Car?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of air compressor is the best for painting cars?

A paint gun is a heavy tool, and car painting requires time. For compressors, a large air compressor is required to complete this job. These heavy working 60-80 Gallon compressors work finest with 15 CFM and 5-10 HP.

Can I use a 6-gallon air compressor to paint a car?

Painting a car with a 6-Gallon air compressor is not a good idea. You require at least 60-80 gallons of paint to paint a car. Small compressors are not enough for heavy work and will run out quickly. The procedure will take time, and you must complete the car at various intervals.


Choosing the best air compressor for car painting is now easy as we know which factors to consider while seeking it. Considering the tank size of CFM, portability, HP, PSI, maintenance, or mainly when the painting is significant.

Your car requires some preparation before you start painting it with sandpaper to clean it and then applying thinner to seal the real body of the vehicle. Moreover, it permits the paint to settle down smoothly.

One of the best air compressors for car painting contains at least 30-60 Gallons, or if you need to paint a car, a 60-80 Gallon air tank since it allows continuous use and makes the procedure faster.

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Samuel H. Murphy is DIY expert and Interior Designer. He is also a part time content writer of Capische. He lives in Warren city, Michigan. He test tools like drill, saw, sander, air compressor etc and helps readers to find out the best tools.

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