Best air compressor for automotive painting [Reviews and Shopping Tips]

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Make short work of that painting job you’ve been putting off with the help of the best air compressor for automotive painting

When you have a show-quality paint job in your to-do list, you’ll certainly need two things: some luck with the weather (wayward humidity and temperature can be formidable adversaries when painting) and the right equipment..

Essential tools include an electric sander, wet and dry sandpaper for car paint, paint thinners, masking tape, and an air compressor.

And oh, good skill will be handy, but that’s a story for another day.

Back to equipment and we all know that you cannot gamble on a so-so tool if you’re going the air compressor way- in fact, you need nothing less than the best air compressor for automotive painting your money can buy!

This guide is for you if you’ve been scanning the market wondering what the best air compressor for auto body work is.

Now, before we bring you the best  the market has to offer including the best air compressor for auto shop, here are the answers to the key questions folks struggle to get answers to when shopping for this must-have tool…

Best air compressor for automotive painting – frequently asked questions

What specs do I need to look for?

For specs, get the following numbers right and you’ll complete a show-stopping paint job in less time and flawlessly:

  • Air tank volume

In most cases, a 50 to 60-gallon compressor is a monster and ideal for serious paint jobs.

However, you don’t always need to go big- you can still get good results with a 25-35 gallon compressor if you’re mostly into small touch-up paint jobs.

So, can you paint a car with a 30 gallon air compressor?

Well, from our explanation above, you can easily tell that a 30 gallons air tank capacity should be fine for painting a car – be sure to match the CFM of your paint gun to the CFM rating of the 30-gallon compressor for a smooth operation.

One more question: can you paint a car with a 6 gallon air compressor?

Note that a 6-gallon air compressor is a little limited and generally won’t work well for big paint spraying jobs.

Nevertheless, people get away with air compressor a 6-gallon tank (Depending on the CFM of the paint gun) when handling small projects such as painting a small section of a car and general touch-up tasks.

  • What HP air compressor do i need to paint a car?

The question of Horsepower (HP)- loosely means the amount of work a compressor can handle- shouldn’t worry you as much as some of the others because higher horsepower ratings don’t always translate to better performance.

To put it into context, if two air compressors-one clocking 10 HPs and the other lower- deliver an equal amount of pressure, the model with the less HP will turn out to be more efficient.

Even so, you can pick a higher HP rating because the air compressor can be useful if you have other tools to power.

  • CFM/flow rate

For a smooth job, be sure to select an air compressor with a CFM rating of between 14 and 18 per unit.

This can, however, be a bit expensive and out of reach if you’re squeezed for cash.

The good news is that a more affordable air compressor with a CFM rating of just 5 per unit can be good enough for minor tasks such as a retouch.

Pro-Tip: Make sure the spray gun you’re using needs LESS than the highest output of the air compressor so you won’t require to run it constantly while painting.

  • A word on the PSI Rate

Though the maximum PSI (pounds per sq. inch) isn’t as critical as the CFM rating, it can make some difference.

For example, a small unit with a higher PSI can accommodate more air than compressors with larger tanks but a lower PSI thanks to the greater air compression rates.

In short, just like the trend has been, the higher the PSI, the better.

A word on your budget

Like with all air compressors, your budget is critical when it comes to shopping for the best air compressor for automotive painting.

We dare say it’s the biggest constraint- after all, who doesn’t want a beast of an air compressor?

As such, spending a little extra on a more powerful air compressor (if your budget allows) could turn out to be a masterstroke down the road.

Best air compressor for automotive painting- product reviews

We don’t want to keep you here any longer so here are the three air compressors that will help turn your vehicle into a stunning masterpiece on the outside!

Powermate 80-Gallon Air Compressor (Corded Electric)- best air compressor for auto shop

best air compressor for automotive painting

If you’re looking for a unit that will deliver a sparkling paint job all the time in your shop and make customers want to keep coming back, this is your tool.

Everything here points to an air compressor built for quick, professional automotive paintwork – there is the 4.7-HP along with the eye-catching 155-PSI (maximum) from the high-powered 15-Amp motor, a significant 14-CFM air flow (at 90-PSI), and more.

Plus, this single stage, three cylinder air compressor starts and stops less often due to the larger 80-gallon tank.

Summary of Specs

  • CFM: 14-CFM at 90-PSI / 16.1 CFM at 40 PSI
  • HorsEpower:7-HP
  • Tank: 80 gallon (Vertical Stationary)
  • Pressure: Up to 155 PSI
  • Dimensions (LxWxH)-5 x 34.75 x 77
  • Weight-354 Pounds
  • Noise level: Just under 80dB.


Most prominent features at a glance

  1. Wired-formed belt guard- helps it cool more efficiently.
  2. Aluminum head and valve plate (in the pump)– further speeds up heat dissipation.
  3. Lasting construction- built mainly from cast iron and steel.
  4. Oil-level sight glass– track remaining lubricant with ease.
  5. On/off switch, accessible oil fill, and built-in tank pressure gauge- adds control and convenience.


  • Keeps up perfectly with professional automotive paint spray guns.
  • Reasonable noise level.
  • Built for the long haul.


  • Quite heavy to lift.

What else should I know?

It comes pre-filled with synthetic oil so it’s ready to go right out of the box.


This 80-gallon Hi-Flo air compressor delivers more air for the longest run time and is a dream for any ambitious auto shop owner.

Put simply, it’s the very best air compressor for auto repair shop out there.


Industrial Air 30-Gallon Belt-Driven Air Compressor – best air compressor for automotive painting for small/medium duty jobs

best air compressor for auto body work

This 30-gallon compressor features a hefty motor that outputs 1. 9 HP, which is decent for most small-medium duty auto restoration jobs.

Likewise, the 155 PSI (max) pressure is up to scratch as is the 5.7 CFM (at 90 psi) for all small (and some medium-duty) car painting projects.

It fills the tank from 0 to 150 in less time, runs super quiet and smooth, and is really simple to set up.

Unsurprisingly, Tons of DIYers are in love with this twin cylinder machine (oiled), going by the sea of raving reviews online

Summary of Specs

  • CFM:7-CFM at 90-PSI / 7.0 CFM at 40 PSI
  • HorsEpower:9-HP
  • Tank: 30 gallon (Vertical)
  • Pressure: Up to 155 PSI
  • Dimensions (LxWxH)- 75 x24.75 x49.75
  • Weight-190 Pounds
  • Noise level: Up to 70 dBs

Most prominent features at a glance

  1. Belt drive technology- There’s a belt connecting the motor to its pump with pulleys. You, therefore, enjoy greater flexibility when adjusting the airflow and pressure (as needed).
  2. Pre-attached pneumatic tires (on the tank) and front – Makes mobility easier.
  3. Quick-set regulator, tank, and working-pressure gauges, on/off switch- Makes your life easier.
  4. Dual voltage motor The motor plugs into a standard 120-V outlet but can be modified for 240-Volt outlets.
  5. Oil-level sight glass– Sees the Powermate 80-Gallon Air Compressor features above.


  • Portable unit (easy to wheel around).
  • Top-notch craftsmanship.
  • Straightforward to use.


  • Draining the tank via the drain valve at the bottom is a bit involving.

What else should you know?

You can order its cheaper 20.0 gallons version if you’re running short of cash.


This Industrial Air ILA4708065 air compressors can be a great buy if you’re an avid DIY looking for a tool you can trust for small-medium duty auto body work jobs.

The price is not outlandish and the performance is up to scratch.


California Air Tools  Ultra-Quiet, Oil-Free Air Compressor- best value unit

can you paint a car with a 30 gallon air compressor

This is the best bet for hobbyists who don’t want to pay over the odds for an air compressor they only use for occasional body work.

We’re referring to folks who restore autos as a hobby and anyone else who is into sporadic projects- those who may, for example, paint once a month (or on weekends, at most) and for a couple of hours at a time.

Its oil free (thus easier and inexpensive to maintain), features a reasonable 10-gallon tank, and can deliver 125 PSI (Max) pressure.

Read on for other specs..

Summary of Specs

  • CFM:3-CFM at 90-PSI / 6.4 CFM at 40 PSI
  • HorsEpower:0-HP
  • Tank: 10 gallon (you can add an auxiliary tank easily, if desired).
  • Pressure: Up to 125 PSI
  • Dimensions (LxWxH)- 1×35.9
  • Weight-5 Pounds
  • Noise level: Up to 70 dBs

Most prominent features at a glance

  1. Dual piston oil-free pump system- results in faster air delivery.
  2. Thermal overload protector– prevents overheating.
  3. Easy start valve – just uses 7.0Amps to start
  4. Wheel kit (attached to the tank)- helps you move it around the jobsite easily.
  5. Complete control panel- features very friendly controls.


  • Ultra quiet air compressor.
  • Recharges pretty fast.
  • Very easy to operate.


  • Wheels don’t seem very sturdy.

What else should you know?

This can conveniently run of a generator (Min. 5500 Watt) for between 30-60 min depending on the PSI and CFM!


This is designed for light users looking for proper power, good air flow, effortless service and maintenance, and the least noise.

If that’s you, you’ll be in safe hands with this great compact little compressor.

Final thoughts

The above best air compressor for automotive painting reviews have something for everyone- from pros to hobbyists.

Select the tool that best suits your needs and give your vehicle the like-new appearance that you have always wanted.

Happy painting buddy.


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