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Best Air Compressors for Painting Cars of 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Painting my carFinding the most suitable air compressor to paint your car can be a difficult job, especially with the countless number of products out there. Everyone has mixed opinions which means the reviews are always confusing. You may see a product you love but you find the reviews are all negative which would naturally put you off purchasing it, yet you might have a positive experience with it which differs from everyone else, therefore, meaning you should try it out. We’ve put together a list of the best air compressors available if you’re looking to paint your car (or someone else’s!) The aim of this list is to make your searching easier and help you purchase your perfect air compressor in absolutely no time!

Our 5 Favorite Picks

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Powermate Vx PLA4708065 Powermate Vx PLA4708065
  • Durable
  • Reliable
  • Long shelf life
  • Second place
    Rolair VT25BIG Rolair VT25BIG
  • Good mobility
  • Long pump life
  • Runs on 110 PSI
  • Best Value
    Third place
    California Air Tools 5510SE California Air Tools 5510SE
  • Affordable
  • Ultra-quiet
  • Good quality
  • California Air Tools 10020C California Air Tools 10020C
  • Small
  • Compact
  • Oiled pump cleans easily
  • Porter Cable PXCMF220VW Porter Cable PXCMF220VW
  • 150 PSI pressure rate
  • 20-gallon steel air tank
  • Long life induction motor
  • 5 Best Air Compressors for Painting Cars – Reviews 2020

    1. Powermate Vx Air Compressor – Best Overall

    Powermate Vx PLA4708065

    If you’re looking for a durable, reliable, and large-capacity air compressor that will paint your car in absolutely no time then this is definitely the product for you. This electric compressor will hold 80 gallons and has a powerful 15-amp motor meaning it can run longer than other air tools such as spray guns and ratchets. It’s quiet too which means you won’t disturb anyone or feel as though you’re making a lot of noise. This is very unusual for an air compressor, especially for such a good price. Despite the price, you pay you want to have a quality product that works professionally, and this is exactly what the Powermate Vx PLA4708065 does. The model includes an oil-lubricated pump with a cast-iron crankcase and a cast-iron body meaning that it is heavyweight but this doesn’t take anything away from the quality, if anything, the heavier an air compressor the better in general as it means its better quality. For those who want a professional paint finish, this air compressor is probably the best one for you.

    • Durable
    • Reliable
    • Large Capacity Compressor
    • Long Shelf Life
    • Professional Paint Finish
    • Heavy

    2. Rolair VT25BIG Compressor

    Rolair VT25BIG

    Despite looking completely different from our first choice on the list, the Rolair VT25BIG is one of the best professional air compressors that is ideal for those who want to start making money from painting. It can handle 6 trim guns and 4 framing guns easily as well as running 110psi without any problems which means it’s a handy tool to have if you can afford to purchase it. The only problem with this model is that it is relatively more expensive than its counterparts, however, if you want a quality product that will last a while then you may need to pay more money for it especially when it comes to air compressors. This also comes with splash lubrication which ensures a longer pump life and has a 5.3-gallon tank capacity which means it isn’t as big as our first choice, but it is still very big for an air compressor. Likewise, to most air compressors the cylinder is made out of cast-iron meaning it lasts a long time and is extremely durable! The handle this model allows for easy mobility and allows you to change the location of the cylinder without any hassle or manual labor, you can simply pull it to your next spot.

    • Long Pump Life
    • Runs on 110psi
    • Good Mobility
    • 3400 RPM Motor
    • More Expensive
    • Heavy

    3. California Air Tools 5510SE Compressor – Best Value

    California Air Tools 5510SE

    For those who are on a budget then you might be looking for an air compressor that is cheaper than other models but has the same quality, there are hundreds of models out there on the market that is expensive and it’s often hard to deceiver the good quality from those that will fall apart in a week or two. This California Air Tools 5510SE has an oil-free pump which means you get cleaner air and is less overall in maintenance costs, the pump has a maximum 120psi pressure too meaning you’re going to get a good paint coverage on your car when you use this product. It is designed to increase the run time and be super quiet too so the sound it produces and its longevity isn’t something you need to worry about, the sound is around 60 decibels which are ultra-quiet for an air compressor. However, due to the price, it does mean that this model lacks certain features which more expensive models have and therefore means you may not get the total and professional finish you wish. Yet, it is ideal for hobbyists and beginners!

    • Good Quality
    • Ultra-Quiet
    • Affordable
    • Limited Features
    • Only ideal for hobbyists and beginners
    • Difficult to move

    4. California Air Tools 10020C Air Compressor

    California Air Tools 10020C

    There is something about this model we don’t like, and despite it being ultra-quiet and having multiple extra features that allow it to stand out and be different from the standard models, it lacks the greatness other models have. It has a smaller and compact design which means it doesn’t have a great CFM rate and only has a pressure of 90psi which is very low for an air compressor that is so expensive. The performance of this model also isn’t up to the standard it should be. In addition to this, despite there being no maintenance concerns you have to ensure that the unit is free of dust and debris that may collect on top of it. If you find it always gets dust on it then it might pose more problems for you. This air compressor is also a lot loud than you may think, the highest it goes to is 70 decibels which is still quite loud for a compressor that claims to be quiet, whilst it doesn’t roar or whine in noise, there is definitely a hum there.

    • Small and Compact
    • Oiled Pump Cleans Easily
    • Expensive
    • 90psi Pressure
    • Relatively Loud
    • Lacks Quality

    5. Porter Cable PXCMF220VW Air Compressor

    Porter Cable PXCMF220VW

    If you’re wanting to waste your money on a product then you could purchase this model, the Porter Cable PXCMF220VW. Despite being a 20-gallon steel air tank, it is not professional and lacks the quality you would want for something so expensive. Porter Cable is normally a good brand with good quality products, but this model doesn’t do the name justice and lets down the brand as a whole. There are many unhappy customers who have purchased this model expecting more. It’s hard to move about as it doesn’t have a handle and the two wheels on the back of the compressor mean it is unbalanced whenever you try to push it. It is also recommended that you don’t run the pump for longer than 30 minutes which means that if you’re planning on doing a lot of work with the air compressor you will have to stop a lot of the time. Possibly the only positive aspect of this model is that it has a high psi rate at 150 which is very good, we still don’t think that this factor allows it to be any higher in our list though.

    • 150 psi pressure rate
    • Expensive
    • Difficult to Maneuver
    • Runs for only 30 minutes
    • No Handle

    Buyer’s Guide

    Tips for Buying an Air Compressor

    Buying the perfect air compressor that suits all your needs is important and you want to make sure you make the right purchase. Therefore, before you go and purchase the first good reviewed product you should really think about what makes the best air compressor and perhaps try something you never thought of before. We thought it would be helpful to put together some tips on buying your air compressor so when you’re looking or searching for one you know what the best ones look and feel like!

    • Get an air compressor with an oil-free pump, many of the higher priced models will automatically have an oil-free pump fitted but with cheaper brands you might have to really search to see if it has one or not. Although they’re not essential, they reduce the maintenance costs and the work you have to do in the long-term and therefore make your life a lot easier. They also don’t mix the oil into the compressed air which is a huge plus and is something that the oiled pumps suffer with and is the reason they have problems.
    • Purchase an auxiliary air tank with the air compressor, it allows for increased air storage capacity and therefore means you can carry on working on your car for longer. It also means that the shelf life of the product improves. If you buy a cheaper model with a smaller air storage capacity, you can purchase one of these and it will improve the quality a lot and not cost a huge amount of money.
    • Try an air compressor with multiple couplers as it allows you to handle different tasks without having to connect and disconnect tools all the time. This will ultimately save you time and money which is a huge benefit. Although you may spend more money initially it will pay off when the model is a lot easier to use and works with your time restraints.
    • Get an air compressor with a high psi level, whilst the horsepower is rated by CFM and the output of the compressor, the psi level determines what tools the compressor will power and how long for, so you have to ensure it has a high-pressure rating. The higher the psi rate, the better the air compressor will be. However, remember that it isn’t solely a reflection on the product and its reliability, there are a number of things you have to consider before buying an air compressor and although psi levels are important, it’s not essential to have the highest possible one as long as you get a product that suits your needs.

    Things to Consider Before Buying an Air Compressor

    Before buying your air compressor you must take a few considerations into account, they are important because you might not be aware of them before you make your purchase and they’re important if you want to get a product that is worth your money.

    • Think about the tools you want to power and determine what level of psi and CFM level it needs. You need to ensure that the tools work properly and if you don’t understand the key concepts of the PSI and CFM levels and what they mean for your air compressor then you might have to do more research.
    • The price of the air compressor, as much as you want a good quality product – you also don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that isn’t going to be worth it. Set yourself a budget and look at the types of air compressors you can get for that price, whilst the higher-priced items often mean they’re better quality, this isn’t always the case.
    • How often you’re going to use the air compressor will affect the model you buy and this is something you should consider. If you’re a professional who wants to use the air compressor every day then you may need to spend more money than someone who is starting out and is a beginner as they would naturally not use the product as much. The quality of the product will also show over excessive use, if you are buying a cheaper model then you might find that it doesn’t last as long as a more expensive model because of the amount you use it.


    To conclude, we would suggest the best model to opt for is the Powermate Vx PLA4708065 due to its good reputation and the fact that it has the best reviews of air compressors for painting cars out there. It does have some good competition but overall, the gallon-capacity and it’s extra features outweigh anything that may be negative about it. Despite it being on the higher-priced side, it is a good quality product that you know will last!

    We hope this article has helped you along your journey and that finding your ideal air compressor is now easier than it initially was because it isn’t as much hassle as it seems.

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