Car painting isn’t the same as a wall or furniture painting. Whether you’re a mechanic or just want to give your vehicle a new look, you’re going to need the best air compressor for painting cars.
A first-rate air compressor for vehicles is one that is compatible with almost every spray paint and offers consistent airflow and pressure. With a quality compressor, you’ll be able to achieve a beautiful uniform, factory-like finish.
All that said, finding the ideal air compressor that meets your painting needs can be quite a challenge. That is why we’ll be reviewing 5 air compressors from brands such as Craftsman, California Air Tools, and NEU Master. We’ll also be providing you with a quick buyer’s guide followed by a FAQ section, all of which will help you pick one that best suits your painting needs. So, keeping reading and find out!
Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars Reviews
After having done a lot of research, we have come up with our very own list of the 5 air compressors that we believe are the best ones out there. While the following products certainly have their own advantages and caveats, they’re definitely worth every penny. Each compressor has been carefully handpicked based on its functionality, affordability, power, and of course, durability. So, Let’s check them out!
1. Craftsman 6-Gallon CMEC6150K – Best Overall Car Painting Air Compressor
If you’re looking to purchase the best overall vehicle painting air compressor, then you’re going to love the Craftsman CME6150k.
The Craftsman CMEC6150K, without a doubt, is among the top air compressors for handling small painting jobs. It offers a max air pressure level of 150 PSI and can deliver an output of 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. This means you can use it to run some high-demanding tools like small impact wrenches, touch-up paint guns, and air ratchets.
Aside from removing the moisture that accumulates after every use, this air compressor doesn’t require much maintenance. Moreover, being an oilless compressor, there’s no need to check oil levels when you use it. You just need to follow basic maintenance practices and the machine will serve you with no issue for an extended period.
Weighing just 32lbs, this air compressor from Craftsman is also quite portable. As for its tank size, the Craftsman CMEC6150k comes with a 6-gallon tank, which isn’t enough for high-performing equipment like impact wrenches. Besides small painting tasks, you can also use the Craftsman CMEC6150K for drilling, cutting, inflating, fastening, and automotive repairs.
Thanks to its pancake shape and clever handle design, you can easily maneuver this lightweight air compressor from one site to another. Aside from these incredible features, Craftsman takes it up a notch by including an accessories kit featuring 13 pieces, including a tire chuck, tire gauge, and 25-foot hose. The 1-year warranty further makes it a great buy. On the downside, some of the buyers had complaints about it being a bit noisy.
- Oil-free pump
- Lightweight and portable
- Accessory Kit
- Slightly noise
- Tank volume not enough for more demanding equipment like impact wrenches.
2. California Air Tools 4710SQ – The Runner Up
Next, taking the second place in our list of the top 5 air compressors is the California Air Tools 4710SQ. If you prefer an air compressor that doesn’t cause much noise, then you can’t go wrong with this one. The CAT 4710SQ is part of the brand’s quiet series and is among the quietest compressors available on the market, making it an ideal tool for use at home.
Weighing just 43 pounds, this air compressor is also quite lightweight and portable enough for you to move it to various job sites with ease. Another great thing about this tool is that you don’t need any oil for running it and it offers an incredible performance like other compressors. Also, as an oil-free compressor, the 4710SQ makes a decent purchase as it doesn’t little or no maintenance for a low cost.
Its oil-free pump makes it a viable tool for use in both uneven terrains & different temperatures. Packing an efficient 1 HP motor, this air compressor runs at 1680 RPM, helping create less wear and less noise.
The CAT 4710SQ is capable of producing 2 CFM at 90 PSI and 3 CFM at 40 PSI., which means you can use it with a variety of other tools. Featuring a 4.6-gallon steel tank and takes just 105 seconds to refill the tank. All in all, if you need an air compressor that doesn’t cause much noise, is efficient, and portable, the CAT4710SQ is worth buying.
- Less noise
- Lightweight & portable
- Small tank size
- Build quality could be better.
3. NEU Master N3140 – Best Budget Car Painting Air Compressor
If you need a more powerful tool for painting your car yet don’t wish to spend much, you might want to check out this beauty. While compressors from Campbell Hausfeld are also known for being budget-friendly, the NEU Master N3140 will not disappoint you. It offers great functionality for a relatively affordable price.
Boasting an incredible turbo-fan of 600 watts, the N3140 has the ability to provide strong airflow, ensuring better coverage. The NEU Master N3140 will help you get your work done quicker and more conveniently. This is thanks to its lightweight body and detachable handle, making it ideal for beginners.
Another thing that makes the NEU Master so great is its shoulder strap that allows you to carry the tool wherever you need to work with ease. But, that’s not the only thing that sets it apart, the N3140 also features 3 spray patterns, 3mm and 2.5 nozzles, a 28-ounce container, followed by its handy situated knob that allows for airflow control.
Cleaning the NEU Master won’t be an issue as it brings along every feature that you’ll need for this purpose, which includes a cleaning brush and nozzle cleaning needle. Overall, this electric spray paint is an excellent choice for those looking to bring home an incredible tool for spraying their car.
- Powerful turbofan of 600 watts ensures strong airflow
- Easy to use & maintain
- Not the best as compared to the other options
- The 28-ounce container might be small for some paint jobs.
4. CAT 8010 Ultra Quiet Air Compressor
Another beast of a compressor from California Air Tools is the CAT 8010. As the name suggests, with this machine, you can work without creating much noise. The sound it produces doesn’t exceed 60 decibels, making it another quiet air compressor.
Thanks to its solid stainless steel build, the CAT 8010 is an incredibly durable air compressor. While it comes with an 8-gallon tank, this heavy-duty machine is pretty lightweight. Though it weighs about 54 lbs, which is more than its smaller counterparts, you can still move the tool without much effort.
Another great feature of the CAT8010 is its power. With its 1HP motor and 1680 RPM, you get a machine that offers incredible performance. Also, unlike most typical options out there, its lifespan lasts for over 3000 hours.
Additionally, it offers 3 CFM at 40 PSI and 2 CFM at 90 PSI and unlike traditional compressors, you’re getting a maximum of 120 PSI. Moreover, it boasts a fast recovery and refills time. The anti-rust feature that helps prevent corrosion or rust further accentuates its longevity. Also, it requires less maintenance, thanks to its oil-free pump.
- Can store 8-gallons of air
- Noiseless operation
- Incredibly durable
- Less horsepower
- Slightly pricey
5. CAT 10020C Air Compressor
This is another incredible air compressor from California Air Tools that might help you with your car painting needs. Just like the 8010, the CAT 10020C belongs to the “Ultra-Quiet” line, which means you get to enjoy a noiseless operation with sound level not exceeding 70 decibels.
It also packs a powerful 2 HP engine that makes sure that you never fall short in the efficiency department. As you start the motor, it runs at 1680 RPM and leaves no room for wear.
The CAT 10020C delivers 6.40 CFM at 40 PSI and 90 PSI, you get 5.30 CFM. Additionally, you get a maximum pressure level of 125 PSI. You can also use the machine for hours without worrying about overheating as it features an overload protector.
While most compressors have a typical lifecycle of about 500 hours, the CAT 10020C stands out with a lifecycle of over 3000 hours. Its dual-piston pump further accentuates its durability and you can even operate it when it’s cold.
It boasts an incredible 10-gallon tank, which is made of solid stainless steel. However, the large tank makes it a bit heavier, as it weights 82 lbs. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about corrosion or rusting as it boasts an anti-rust coating. It also features a wheel, allowing you to easily maneuver it around. All that aside, the CAT 10020C is more on the pricier side.
- Less noise
- No overheating issue thanks to its overload protector
- It features a 10-gallon tank
- Sightly on the pricier side
- Quite heavy
Air Compressor Buying Guide
Picking the best compressor that meets all your car painting needs is essential and you need to ensure that you invest in the right product. Therefore, it’s important to follow a logical, systematic approach before making your purchase. Here are a few factors to keep in mind before purchasing your air compressor.
PSI & CFM
The first important factor to consider is the PSI and CFM of the compressor. PSI stands for pound per square inch and is essentially the rate of air pressure while CFM or cubic feet per minute indicates the rate of air the compressor delivers at a particular pressure. If you have an airless sprayer, you’ll need a compressor with a decent PSI to get the job done. Similarly, for HVLP sprayers, you need compressors with a low PSI. While higher CFM is better, you need to make sure that it’s higher than what the spray gun requires. If not, it won’t perform efficiently and might splatter, resulting in an uneven coating.
Another important factor to keep in mind before buying is the compressor’s tank. The tank helps in storing the air at maximum pressure so that it can offer the needed boost during high demands. Consequently, the larger the tank size is, the more air it can store inside. This will ensure that you have enough air to power high-performing paint guns with ease.
Durability & Portability
Getting a durable compressor will ensure that it serves you for a long time. Fortunately, most of the products available today are made of sturdy materials. Ideally, it’d be best if you buy one that’s made of either pure aluminum or solid stainless-steel. Also, you need to consider the compressor’s weight. Heavier models will make it difficult for you to maneuver it around, which won’t be an issue if you wish to place it in one permanent location. If not, opt for a lightweight model.
Car Painting Air Compressor FAQs
Now that you’re aware of the main factors to consider before making your purchase, we thought it would be helpful to answer the most common questions people have concerning car painting air compressors.
What is a Good Size for a Car Painting Air Compressor?
The ideal size for a car painting air compressor will depend on your car’s size. While a minimum of 6-gallon tank is pretty good, we would suggest opting for 8 or 10 gallons. This way you won’t have the problem of the air pressure running out that quickly.
How Much HP Is Needed for Painting a Car with an Air Compressor?
For most non-industrial air compressors or DIY applications, 1-2 HP is enough with spray guns rated for 40-50 PSI and 6 CPM. Nowadays, compressors with 2HP motors are available in the market. You’re all good if the compressor delivers a minimum of 8 CFM at 40 PSI.
What CFM is Needed for Auto Body Car Painting?
The CFM rating you require for auto body car painting will mainly depend on the number and type of tools you use. For general use, you need about 0.1-5 CFM at 70-90 PSI. The minimum CFM required for your compressor will be the total CFM the tools need times 1.5.
Find the Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars That’s Right for You
In conclusion, we believe that this review will help you find the best air compressor for painting cars. Every product mentioned in this review comes with its own pros and cons and as such, the compressor that’s right for you will ultimately depend on your personal needs.
Jake is a tool guy – think Tim Allen from Home Improvement but with a much drier sense of humor. He lives in the great state of Ohio and plays the guitar on his downtime. He also spends his time writing on all things tools and DIY-related as this is his passion.