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Best Air Compressor For Painting Cars

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Are you contemplating taking up a DIY car painting project? It’s a great idea to revamp your ride, but you need to adopt a cautious approach.

No matter how many how-to videos you watch, it’s a challenging pursuit for a first-timer.

You need to equip yourself with the right supply and the best air compressor for painting cars.

There are so many factors to consider while shopping for the best compressor for spray painting. You need the right size to ensure sufficient power for a job well done.

The market is brimming with numerous air compressors, but which is the best one?

Keep reading to find out how you can buy the best compressors for painting cars.

Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission.

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need to Paint a Car?

Best Air Compressor For Painting Cars
Image Credit:

Your car painting adventure requires the right air compressor, as any random model will not suffice.

The size is the most crucial factor in picking out the best air compressor for painting cars.

You see, a smaller tank can cause unevenness in the application or force you to stop between coats.

Painting cars is different than other paint jobs as you need a glossy sheen and clear panels.

If your air compressor features a tiny tank, you will have to wait for the tank to refill.

Over-spraying or spraying the same panel multiple times creates unevenness and dullness.

The right air compressor will ensure evenness and a glossy paint job.

These tips will prove helpful:

  • The best air compressor for spray painting features a volume of over 50 gallons, ideally 60 gallons. This volume will ensure your painting job is done in one go. However, as compared to the CFM rating, the volume is a less significant factor.
  • The CFM rating is a crucial factor to consider while determining the right size for your needs. Be sure to examine the CFM output number of all the compressors that you explore. A higher CFM reveals the compressor’s ability to inflate more air. So, a higher CFM will ensure that you can paint your entire car in one go.
  • Purchasing an air compressor with a low CFM rating can create asymmetrical streaks, with some areas glossier than others. It is ideal to choose a CFM rating of 14 to 18 per unit to ensure a smooth DIY car painting job. If you just want to retouch minor areas, a CFM rating of 5 will suffice.

Why Air Pressure Is Important

Air pressure is a vital factor in ensuring you have chosen the best air compressor for car spraying.

The amount of air pressure is indicated by the PSI (pounds per square inch).

People often confuse a higher PSI rating with smoothness, but that’s not true.

It is wise to purchase spray guns with a high volume low pressure (HVLP) to avoid exerting excessive pressure.

An HVLP compressor doesn’t require too much air pressure to ensure the desired results.

It is ideal to use 10-15 PSI while using an HVLP spray gun on the base coat. A 20-25 PSI is well-suited to spray a glossy coat.

Even if you’re using a non-HVLP air compressor, the ratings aren’t very different.

Avoid increasing the PSI reading excessively high while working with a low-volume and low-pressure spray.

Even the most challenging car painting job doesn’t require more than 90 PSI.

The size of the air compressor will determine the effectiveness of your investment and your convenience.

The size also takes into account other factors, such as the CFM and PSI ratings and the technology used to power it.

It is ideal to choose an air compressor featuring a 60-gallon tank, 5-6 horsepower compressor, 14-18 CFM, and 90 PSI.

If you’re choosing a smaller tank, you might not encounter any challenges with the base coat.

But the clear coat staged will prove difficult, and you’re likely to end up over spraying.

Best Air Compressor For Painting Cars

Best Air Compressors For Spraying Cars
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1. Number 1 Recommendation: DeWalt DXCMLA3706056

Dewalt DXCMLA3706056 3.7 HP 60 Gallon Oil-Lube Stationary Air Compressor
  • 13.4 CFM at 40 psi and 11.5 CFM at 90 psi with 1.9 RHP
  • Large capacity, 60 gallon ASME air receiver provides more air for longer run times on air tools such as ratchets, impacts, spray guns, hammers, etc.
  • Shipped with synthetic oil for optimum performance and long life
  • Equipped with pressure gauge and on/off switch
  • Supported by our Toll Free Customer Help Line

Last update on 2024-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re shopping on a tight budget, this masterful creation by DeWalt is ideally suited for at-home paint job applications.

It delivers a whopping power of 230 volts with 3.7 horsepower, making it ideally efficient and powerful.

It can deliver 11.5 and 13.4 CFM at 90 and 40 PSI, ideally suited for tough and minor applications.

This budget-friendly beast can deliver a maximum air pressure of 155 PSI, so it can comfortably tackle the most challenging jobs.

It weighs 247 pounds, which makes it somewhat heavy but still not that difficult to move around.

If you’re conscious about the price tag and efficiency, this is the best air compressor for car painting at home.

This machine comes with synthetic oil to ensure that the single-stage pump remains lubricated.

As compared to other cost-effective compressors, this one comes with a huge 60-gallon tank.

It delivers a longer running time so you can comfortably finish the job in one go.

It is incredibly user-friendly, and first-timers will find themselves quickly warming up to its controls and configurations.

The setup is very easy to navigate, and you’re unlikely to encounter any complications setting up and using this machine.

Users can switch between a flow rate of 11.5 CFM at 90 SPI and 13.4 CFM at PSI to easily achieve the desired results.

It offers the ideal flow rate to work with a variety of pneumatic tools.

You can use this air compressor with hammers, ratchets, impact wrenches, spray guns, and much more.

It features pressure gauges that make monitoring and controlling amazingly efficient and easy.

The cast-iron built makes it a highly durable and sturdy investment.

It offers fast heat dissipation, thanks to its aluminum head and valve plate.

The oil-level sight glass makes it easier to monitor the pump and identifies the right time for lubrication.

Why Is This The Number 1 Recommendation?

In our opinion, the DeWalt DXCMLA3706056 is the best air compressor for painting cars.

It is an incredibly straightforward and user-friendly machine, ideally suited for beginners and professionals.

It delivers superior air performance, usability, and durability, and it’s extremely simple to operate.

No matter how challenging or minor the application process, this unit will make the job easier and effortless.

It delivers superior efficiency with a maximum of 155 PSI.

It features a high-flow regulator that delivers 20% additional torque to enjoy greater ease and efficiency.

It’s a powerful and budget-friendly investment that will last for a lifetime.

  • Budget-friendly and highly efficient
  • Features synthetic oil to lubricate the pump
  • Longer running time than most budget-friendly compressors
  • Ideally suited to work with multiple pneumatic tools
  • Oil-level sight and controls allow easy monitoring Simple to use pressure gauges
  • Bulky construction and does not offer a portability feature

2. Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V

Ingersoll-Rand 2340L5-V 5hp 60 gal Two-Stage Compressor (230/3)
  • Long-Life: Durable cast iron construction, long-lasting extended pump life designed for over 15,000 hours of trouble-free use
  • Maximum Power and Flexibilty: 100% continuous duty, 5 hp 2-stage air compressor, 175 psig maximum operating pressure and a 60 ASME reciever tank provide plenty of punch for the most demanding applications
  • Easy to Service: Individually cast cylinders, overhung crankshaft and one piece connecting rod simplifies maintenance and service
  • Reliable Operation: All Season Select synthetic lubricant increases efficiency; with 2,000 hours of service between changeouts, it performs four times longer than petroleum-based lubricants
  • Two-Year Warranty Available: Purchase an All-Season Select lubricant start-up kit, and receive all the parts you need for start-up and the first year of maintenance, along with an extended pump warranty

Last update on 2024-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V delivers a whopping 230 volts of power and 5 horsepower.

It features a 60-gallon tank capacity, making it ideal for at-home DIY auto painting.

It delivers 14.3 CFM at 175 PSI, sufficient to handle smooth and hassle-free paint jobs.

It weighs 400 pounds, making it a heavier investment than most other machines on this list.

However, its easy and user-friendly design overshadows the bulkiness by delivering maximum efficiency.

This is one of the best air compressors for car painting jobs, and it is ideally suited for beginners.

It delivers a maximum air pressure of 175 PSI and a masterful design that delivers enhanced convenience.

The design features separately cast cylinders with a single-piece connecting rod and an extended crankshaft.

The design makes it easier and simpler to carry out repairs and replacements if required.

This air compressor is powered with a dynamic 5 HP motor, a spacious 60-gallon tank, and a maximum pressure of 175 PSI.

It is ideally suited to paint a family car or any major or minor touchups.

The 2-stage air compressor delivers sufficient power to operate highly demanding pneumatic tools with considerable ease.

Using this machine is much easier for beginners who’re taking up a DIY car painting project for the first time.

It doesn’t come with any complicated controls and requires a very straightforward application.

It is a highly durable and sturdy investment due to its cast-iron body.

It offers fast heat dissipation, thanks to its finned copper intercooler.

The most noteworthy feature is indeed the durable pump, designed to deliver hassle-free operation for 15,000 hours.

This 400-pound machine is a very hefty investment, and the weight might get in the way of efficiency.

It also has some tedious maintenance needs because the pump needs regular lubrication to maintain efficient operation.

  • Budget-friendly air compressor for painting cars
  • Easy to use design and fewer complex controls
  • Cast iron built promises superior durability
  • A powerful 5 HP motor for tougher auto body painting
  • Maximum air pressure of 175 PSI
  • Fast heat dissipation with a finned copper intercooler
  • Quite bulky
  • High maintenance needs

3. Puma Industries PK-6060V

Puma Industries PK-6060V Air Compressor, Professional/Commercial Single Stage Belt Drive Series, 3 hp Running, 135 Maximum psi, 230/1V/Phase, 60 gal, 305 lb.
  • Oil lubricated, single stage cast iron pump
  • Portable units feature built-in pressure regulator and quick coupler for pressure control of outlet air
  • 1/2" outlet ball valve and 1/4" drain ball valve on 60 gallon vertical tank
  • Single Phase induction motors with overload protection
  • Steel wheels with ball bearing and no flat tires for best mobility

Last update on 2024-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

One of the best commercial-grade air compressors on the market for painting cars, this 60-gallon beast from Puma Industries is a great investment.

It generates an airflow of 11.3 CFM at 90 PSI and 12.6 CFM at 40 PSI.

A member of the Puma professional series, this is an ideal investment for residential and commercial uses.

It is equipped with a single-stage belt drive air pump, constructed with sturdy cast iron.

This fully oil-lubricated pump is quite easy to use and delivers a maximum tank pressure of 135 PSI.

It weighs 305 lbs. and comes with steel wheels with ball bearings for ease of mobility.

The oil-lubricated air compressor is its winning feature, which ensures a smooth, efficient, and noiseless performance.

The output is regulated by a built-in pressure regulator, and it comes with a quick-connector to allow simple tool attachments.

Its thermal overload protection sets this machine apart from its competitors, making it ideal for DIY applications.

If you’re painting a car for the first time, this feature will certainly prove useful.

The thermal overload protection prevents overheating, which can not only ruin your paint job but also create safety hazards.

Professionals prefer this model because of its thermal overload protection that prevents equipment damages and motor overheating.

This 60-gallon air compressor from Puma offers excellent value for money and the advantages of a high-end investment.

It offers superior convenience and power, and Puma has established a worthy name in manufacturing industrial pumps.

This machine is capable of getting the job done quickly and with top-notch performance.

The pre-lubricated cast iron build ensures a sturdy and durable investment, while it is quite easy to move it around.

The wheels are designed with steel ball bearings, which make them easy to transport to different locations.

This air compressor is very easy to set up and guarantees high-performance.

  • Cast iron build for superior durability
  • Noiseless performance
  • Easy to assemble
  • Easy to move around
  • Oil-lubricated motor
  • Thermal overload protection
  • High-performance air compressor
  • It is equipped with lesser horsepower
  • Not suitable for commercial applications

4. Best Budget Option: DeWalt DXCMPA1982054

This user-friendly machine from DeWalt, a distinguished manufacturer, packs up enormous power and offers superior convenience.

This is an efficient air compressor for painting cars, and it delivers the right size and volume for an effective job but is unlikely to do the job in one sitting.

It delivers 7CFM at 40 PSI and 5.7 CFM at PSI, two winning combinations to enjoy efficiency and speed.

This machine promises superior efficiency and convenience, and you can tap into its full potential at 155 PSI.

A power-packed performer, this air compressor can deliver more power to make your job easier.

It comes with a high-flow regulator to deliver 20% more torque. It makes it easier to work with those hard-to-remove bolts and nuts.

The powerful dual voltage induction motor delivers maximized performance for a highly convenient and efficient operation.

This machine is highly recommended for professionals who deal with multiple jobs painting cars.

It features an enormous 20-gallon tank capacity to tackle several paint jobs in one go.

It comes with a twin-cylinder kit, making it much more efficient than a single-cylinder machine.

More interestingly, it requires much less maintenance than other compressors.

Carrying this machine around is easier than the 20-gallon tank would make you think.

It is equipped with pneumatic tires so you can quickly move it around.

This powerful air compressor is a portable high-capacity unit suited for both professionals and beginners.

It comes with a standard 120-volt power outlet, so you simply have to plug-in and get started.

If your paint job requires a 240-volt output, this heavy-duty air compressor can manage that easily.

Many of its features make it a user-friendly and hassle-free unit.

For instance, it features working pressure, a quick-set regulator, and a tank gauge with a switch.

The cast iron built makes it a highly durable and sturdy investment. It is highly recommended for first-time users.

A great option for anyone looking for budget compressors for painting cars.

  • User-friendly features and hassle-free operation. High-performing induction motor for superior efficiency
  • Easy onboard controls for configuration
  • Pneumatic tires make the air compressor portable
  • Enormous 20-gallon tank capacity
  • High-flow regulator for challenging auto painting
  • Cast iron metal structure promises higher durability
  • Ability to quickly dispel heat
  • Noiseless operation
  • Regular oiling is required
  • Difficulty draining the tank
  • Smaller tank not an efficient for painting cars

5. California Air Tools CAT-60040CAD Ultra Quiet 60 Gal Compressor

One of the best compressors for spray painting, this unit by California Air Tools is a worthwhile and useful investment.

CAT enjoys immense esteem for its innovative and heavy-duty designs, and this unit is no exception to its high-quality standards.

It comes equipped with a massive 60-gallon steel tank, making it ideal for at-home DIY and commercial applications.

If you’re looking to set up an automotive repair shop, this is the ultimate unit that can handle commercial requirements.

Its power-packed features and long-running time will never let you down with its quality and efficiency.

This unit comes with a powerful dual motor, which equips it with a high-performance pump.

It can serve as a multi-purpose air compressor that will deliver sufficient power to achieve perfection in your paint jobs.

It features a 2.0 HP dual voltage motor, which you can power easily using a standard 220V electric outlet.

This heavy-duty air compressor will help you power up all tools and devices.

It delivers a maximum of 125 PSI (pounds per square inch), making it an ideal air compressor for painting, be it for all at-home and commercial paint applications.

It delivers 10.6 CFM at 90 PSI and 12.8 CFM at 40 PSI. It offers superior convenience with its power-packed motor and longer runtime.

The steel built is remarkably constructed to ensure higher durability and ability to withstand all kinds of conditions.

You can set it up outdoor, in your home-garage, or outdoor worksites without fearing any damages or deterioration.

It is equipped with an oil-free dual-piston pump with thermal overload protection.

The construction makes this unit sturdy and maintains the air compressor in top-notch condition.

The onboard controls are straightforward to use, and you can easily monitor the tool gauges, pressure, and regulator.

  • Enormous 60-gallon tank delivers superior capacity
  • User-friendly onboard controls for easy monitoring
  • Low-maintenance requirements
  • Maximum 125 PSI to tackle all kinds of applications with ease
  • Operates quietly
  • Thermal overload protection
  • Relatively pricey option
  • Low 3000-hour lifespan for the oil-free pump


How many CFM do I need to paint a car?

A CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating is a vital consideration to ensure you’re equipped with the best compressor for spray painting.

Choosing the right CFM to paint your car can prove challenging and complicated, especially for first-timers.

You see, a higher CFM rating reveals that the air compressor is capable of inflating more air, based on the PSI rating.

You will need a higher CFM rating if you are looking for air compressors for painting cars in one go, in simpler words.

This doesn’t take into account the running time you need to get the job done.

However, a low CFM rating can lead to numerous troubles and inconveniences.

A low CFM rating can cause unevenness with bad splotches on one side and neat strokes on the other.

To achieve the most desirable car painting results, invest in an air compressor with a CFM rating of 14-18 per unit.

This will ensure excellence.

However, it will increase the overall cost of your unit. If you need to do a minor retouching, a CFM rating of 5 will suffice beautifully.

What PSI should I use to paint a car?

It is advisable to aim for a higher PSI rating, at least 90 PSI, to enjoy the ultimate convenience and efficiency.

However, it is vital to examine the PSI rating in conjunction with the CFM rating for an enhanced application.

What Spray Gun To Use To Paint A Car?

If you can get your hands on one, you should use an HVLP spray gun to paint your car.

An HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray gun.

They will get the job done quicker with less paint and also spray the car much more evenly, especially on the first clear coat. They also offer some health benefits.

The good news is that these added benefits of using HVLP spray guns will cost you very little.

You can pick up decent HVLP spray guns for $30-$50.

Of course, if you are doing this professionally or you plan to then there are much better paint sprayers available.

Can you paint a car with a 21-gallon air compressor?

A 21-gallon air compressor ranks as a small compressor, but it will get the job done.

However, a smaller compressor with a 21-gallon tank will not prove an efficient and convenient investment for bigger jobs.

If you want to paint the entire go, you will have to do so in parts with multiple breaks.

You see, the air compressor will need short recovery periods in between takes to cool down and dissipate heat.

You will have to wait between different strokes, which will make the paint job uneven and dull.

Yes, it is possible to answer the question, but it will require a lot of patience, time, and effort.

It is pertinent to mention here that the CFM is much more important than the gallons of the air tank.

It is always easier to work with an air compressor tank with ample reserve, but the CFM is a dynamic factor.

A higher CFM can overshadow less air reserve by delivering superior efficiency.

Can you paint a car with a 30-gallon air compressor?

A 30-gallon air tank capacity is an ideal choice while choosing an air compressor for auto body painting.

If you’re investing for at-home usage, you don’t need a tank with higher capacity.

It is wise to focus more on the CFM (cubic feet per minute) so you can enjoy efficiency.

At-home applications do not require large reserves as that is a requirement for auto repair shops and commercial applications.


Choosing the best air compressor for painting cars may seem like a challenging investment for a first-timer.

But as long as you stay focused on the elements of PSI, size, and CFM rating, you’ll find it easier to review different units.

It is vital to align your purchase with your requirements, paint job complexity, and budget.

Dewalt DXCMLA3706056 3.7 HP 60 Gallon Oil-Lube Stationary Air Compressor
  • 13.4 CFM at 40 psi and 11.5 CFM at 90 psi with 1.9 RHP
  • Large capacity, 60 gallon ASME air receiver provides more air for longer run times on air tools such as ratchets, impacts, spray guns, hammers, etc.
  • Shipped with synthetic oil for optimum performance and long life
  • Equipped with pressure gauge and on/off switch
  • Supported by our Toll Free Customer Help Line

Last update on 2024-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission.

Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases.

The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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