Air Compressor Oil

There are a few things that you need to know about air compressor oil one of which is about what oil to use in what air compressor? Another is, does your air compressor even need to have oil added? Maybe it’s lubed for life from the factory.

On this page we are talking specifically about reciprocating air compressors.

Is your compressor even lubed with compressor oil?

We all may assume that we know whether or not our air compressor is actually lubed with oil that the owner needs to add. But check to be sure before you worry about this part of regular air compressor maintenance.

First off, always check the compressor manual that should have come with your air compressor. It will tell you, and also provide instructions on how to check and fill the oil sump of the air compressor if your compressor needs oil to be added.

No compressor manual? Then look for an oil fill port, typically at the top of, or beside, the pump head.

Look also for a sight glass, about midway down on the side of the sump.

Air comrpessor oil level sight glass
Compressor oil sight glass – oil level just past center of circle in middle. This oil level is a bit high though it should be good. Typically oil level should be level with the center of the inner circle. Photo:

The absence of a sight glass may not, itself indicate that the air compressor is lube free. If there is an oil fill port and no sight glass, then pull the cap off the oil fill tube and have a look. The cap may contain a dipstick, used to measure the depth of oil in the sump. A sure sign that your air compressor is oil lubed.

Air compressor oil dipstick
Dipstick for Campbell Hausfeld air compressor

 The compressor needs air compressor oil.

Ok, we have determined that our compressor needs air compressor oil. What oil to use?

If the air compressor is still fairly new, it may be under warranty. If so, in order to prevent loss of warranty you may have to use the oil specified in your air compressor manual. If you haven’t got the manual, then do a search or air compressor oil – but start the search string by adding the make of your air compressor. For example, if you search for DeWalt air compressor oil, you will find pages that offer DeWalt compressor lubricating oil.

DeWalt air compressors typically use a synthetic oil. DeWalt air compressor engineers have decided that a synthetic oil is best for lubricating the robust environment of their air compressor sump and pump and that’s what you should use.

We would also advise that if your air compressor is under warranty, always use the oil specified.

Air compressor long out of warranty?

Your compressor is a venerable older model, used for years. Not only is there no warranty, but you cannot even find information on your model any more.

If this describes your air compressor, we would have no hesitation about recommending a general purpose compressor lubricating oil. When we searched for air compressor oil on Google, may sources were found.

 What air compressor oil not to use?

Please make sure that if you are adding lubricating oil to your air compressor, that you are using oil that is made for air compressors. Other formulations of lubricating oil may contain additives that are specifically aimed at the equipment that oil is for, and those additives may not be compatible with your air compressor.

Always and only use air compressor lubricating oil in your reciprocating air compressor.

Oil for other types of air compressors.

The information found on this page refers to the lubricating oil that an air compressor owner would add to the sump of their reciprocating air compressor as a regular part of their oil top-up or oil change regimen.

If you air compressor is a rotary screw, rotary vane, diaphragm or other type of air compressor, your lubrication needs will be more specialized and specific. You must use the oils recommended by the manufacturer for these types of air compressors.

Use the comment box below to add additional information or if you have any questions.

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2 years ago

I have a puma 20 gallon 2 HP single phase compressor. How much oil is needed can’t seem to find it.

Candess Higgerson
4 years ago

How much oil does it take

amal john
5 years ago

How the lube oil consumption getting more when two compressors are running in parallel??

Hamad ramadhan
5 years ago

thank you sir for your help,but can you help me a negative effect of not change the oil in compressor time to time

charlie Palmer
7 years ago

I have a Champion 15 V4 compressor that has no dip stick or slight glass so how much oil should i put in it?