Can I use 10w30 in my air compressor? Is it good for the machine?

The air compressor, as well as most machines in general, requires a certain oil to help it work and to help it function smoothly, without problems inside the mechanism. It is very important to choose for your air compressor the correct oil to maintain its performance.


Choosing the wrong oil for your machine can lead to damage. This is why you may ask a question: can you use 10w30 in your machine? If you are the one who asks this question, then this article is written for you.

Air compressor oil: general information

Before we will figure out if you should use the 19w30 oil, it is important to find out: what is the air compressor oil? How does it work?

Air compressor oil is a specialized lubricant that can be used to prevent the tear and wear of the machine that you have. It is a material of great significance for a machine. It works in a way that helps to prevent any damage to the machine system and to maintain the efficient work of the car.

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Air compressor oil has one powerful advantage: it has much less amount of sulfur and carbon and also it is devoid of detergents, which we can not say about motor oil.

Characteristics of air compressor oil

Handling the heat

The first characteristic is that air compressor oil must be in the ability to handle the heat of the air compressor. The heat can be at a high level, the coolness is about from 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Oil viscosity 

The second characteristic is oil viscosity which has to be at a 30W level, in most cases. Oil viscosity is an important characteristic, so you better check it out before buying an oil. The compressor doesn’t heat enough to turn on the more protective viscosity of the oil, like an internal combustion engine.

Anti-corrosion additives

The third characteristic is anti-corrosion additives, which have to be a characteristic of every oil you use if you don’t want to damage your air compressor. 

Types of the air compressor oil

It is also important to note that there is two variant of air compressor oil: there is a natural type and a synthetic type. They differ a little: the difference is in terms of viscosity and another additive. But it should be mentioned that the type of oil you should use depends on the model of your machine first.

Why do you need to use the right oil?

This question is very important because not all people realize how it is necessary to use only the correct oil that is perfect for your machine. There is a detailed analysis of why it is so important, so you should read carefully about it. There are several reasons why using the right oil is important. 

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The resistance of the oxidation

The air compressor oil comes with several additives that delay the process of oxidation and they delay the process of acid formation.

The lifespan is increased

The additives, that the air oil compressors have, increase the lubricant’s lifespan. They make the lubricant more compatible with some variants of the compressor. Therefore, the additives increase the lifespan of the compressor itself. By the way, this feature has another advantage: it protects several different components of the machine when it is on standby. 

Heat absorption

Another important reason is heat absorption. This means that every machine and that includes also air compressors, releases all the heat when they are running. The air compressor oil absorbs a lot of the heat itself. This absorption helps the machine keep a low temperature of the whole machine. 

There is viscosity in low temperatures

The next step in the list of reasons is viscosity. The air compressor has a significant feature: it can maintain the correct viscosity even when the temperatures are low. This operation helps the compressor to work properly. 

The capability of anti-foaming

Let’s take a look at the oxidation process. It is about big oxygen bubbles that can rise to the surface of the oil, and these bubbles create foam. The foam increases the oxidation process, especially when the oil surface gets exposed to more oxygen.

The anti-foaming capability helps to maintain the long lifespan of the compressor and prevents it from reducing because actually, the oxidation process reduces the lifespan.


This feature means that the additives take another important part in the life of the air compressor: they help to protect the machine from oil emulsion and even from water. 

Air compressor oil: the best options to use

As it said, there are two variants of air compressor oil: the standard air compressor and the synthetic air compressor. Let’s take a look at each of the two.

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Standart air compressor

Standard oil is a type that is made of mineral oil bases, a kind of natural. Standard air compressor oil is an affordable, cheap option when we compare the price with the price of the synthetic air compressor. 

This standard oil is perfect to use with low to medium-load compressors. 

Synthetic air compressor

Synthetic air compressor oil is an option with multiple advantages. This oil is made of a synthetic base, it is a non-detergent oil. 

You can choose synthetic oil if you have an air compressor that can run for a long time and take a heavy-duty load. This oil can function at different temperatures, and makes less buildup inside the pump. This is the best option in such a case because synthetic oil is much more efficient, especially in terms of enhancing the performance of the air compressor.

What exactly does synthetic oil do there? It helps the compressor to keep its temperatures at a low level and the synthetic oil also maintains the perfect, smooth work of the air compressor. And by the way, it reduces noise. If you do not like noises and they irritate you then this kind of oil may a good addition to your air compressor due to this reason, too. 

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If you are worried about the work of the reciprocating and rotary screw compressors, then synthetic oil can help you with them too. There are reasons why it is perfect for such compressors. 

Firstly, it provides fewer deposits, especially the deposits like sludge and varnish which essentially create premature wear and also tear of the compressor. The deposits are dangerous for your compressor also because they reduce the performance of the compressor. But synthetic oils prevent it. 

Secondly, synthetic oils make the lifespan of your compressor longer. To almost 8,000 hours of work. Thirdly, they keep the temperature low which increases the compressor’s efficiency. And then it should be mentioned that synthetic oils are absorbed by your compressor slower, which is why the synthetic oils become much more cost-effective. 

All of this was about the benefits that synthetic oils give to rotary screw compressors. Let’s see now, what it gives to the reciprocating compressors. 

Firstly, synthetic oils help to reduce the accumulation of carbon. Secondly, it gives the reciprocating compressors a much longer lifespan. And thirdly, it is safe to operate with, when it comes to high temperatures. This may be your best air compressor oil. Best than other compressor oils.

Air compressor oil substitutes

Motor oil

You can use motor oil for your air compressor, but, it has to be mentioned, that motor oil is not a well-proven alternative. If you choose motor oil, you should choose a non-detergent motor oil then, because if you use oil that contains detergents, your air compressor is at risk to get serious damage.

Non-detergent motor oil is a good choice that will not destroy your machine and damage a compressor pump. Motor oils in general are not a good choice, since many motor oils are not non-detergent.

Hydraulic oil

Another alternative to air compressor oils is hydraulic oil which will help you to reduce oxidation, keep it lubed,  and keeps lower viscosity in cold temperatures. Hydraulic oil lubricated air compressors and cooling for components of the air compressor. Hydraulic oil is very good at protecting from corrosion.

This option may be considered a well-done alternative to air compressor oils. Although hydraulic oil has very low detergents and it is more expensive than others.  

Automatic transmission fluid (ATF)

Automatic transmission fluid will help you because it reduces tear and wear and keeps the cold temperatures in the machine components. Automatic transmission fluid has a lot of detergents, have a low viscosity. 

Can you use 10w30 in the air compressor?

And finally, we came to the main question. Throughout the whole article, you have read a lot about the air compressor and about the oils that you should you for it. And you could notice one little important thing.

The thing is that the majority of the described oils don’t contain detergent, because detergents are simply really bad if they come into the air compressor. They can cause damage that will pay for repair or even a complete replacement of the air compressor. 

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10w30 oil consists of detergents which is already a bad sign, its weight and viscosity are not good for air compressors, according to the requirements of the manufacturers. 

So, using 10w30 is not recommended for air compressors at all. It could be nice for another machine, but not for the air compressor. It has no benefits in particular, on the opposite, it will bring big damage to your air compressor and air pump if you decide to use it. 

But there may be a kind of model of air compressors that require 10w30 oil. It is risky but required. If you have this time of model, then use 10w30 or even consult with air compressor experts better.


Can I use 10W30 oil in air compressor?

No, you absolutely can not choose 10w30 for your machine. It will only damage your machine, it simply will bring no good to the air compressor. Consider other oil for air compressors. Like standard oil and synthetic oil, or a thicker oil, like 20W50, or other automotive oils. They are much better.

What kind of oil can you put in a air compressor?

There are two main kinds of oil that you can use in your air compressor: standard air compressor oil and synthetic oil for air compressors. 

Can I use engine oil in an air compressor?

Yes, you can use engine oil in an air compressor, but it is not recommended, since most engine oils contain detergents, which are harmful to your air compressor. Use other oils than motor oil.


There is plenty of oil that is perfect for air compressors and has a lot of benefits that maintain good performance and provide a long lifespan. There are synthetic oil and standard oil and many others. But using 10W30 is not recommended. 10W30 has none of the features that other oils have.

Motor oil is not the best option. Moreover, it tends to destroy and damage your air compressor. If you use it, we recommend changing the air compressor oil. Read about Porter cable air compressor common problems.

James Cole

Considering that most people continue to pay the masters in the service for a consultation, I decided to create my blog.

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