What’s the Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars (2017 Version)

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Air compressors for painting cars are a lot different than air compressors for small power tools. Compressors need to have enough capacity and power to provide you with quick, even painting that doesn’t require you to stop often.

There are a lot of decisions to make when choosing an air compressor for cars.

Quincy QT-7.5 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor – 7.5 HP

Our top pick in 2017

Ingersoll-Rand (IRTC2475N75) Air Compressor 7.5HP 80 Gallon 24CFM 175psi

Extreme power with a 7.5HP motor and 175 PSI

DeWalt DXCMV5048055 Two-Stage Cast Iron Industrial Air Compressor

3 inlet design offers the best versatility

How to Choose the Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars

If you run a body shop or are an avid mechanic, you need to have the best air compressor possible. When an air compressor doesn’t have a high capacity, you’ll need to stop in the middle of your paint job.

Painting a car in sections is tedious.

And you need to complete the entire coat in one day for the paint to look right. For this reason, I recommend choosing the right air compressor for the job.

What the Right Air Compressor for Painting Cars Offers

You can use a smaller capacity air compressor, but the right compressor will meet the following criteria:

  • 60+ gallon tank capacity
  • 5 – 6HP or higher
  • CFM at 14 – 18 with a 90 PSI

Again, this is in the ideal situation. Auto body shops will choose a setup as listed above because it’s more accommodating.

You can still use spray guns with lower demands, yet you’ll find that stopping impedes your painting progress too much. The biggest issue with using a smaller compressor is that overspray will occur on the clear coat.

Clear coats should be applied all at once because overspray will make the paint look dull – not something you want.

a man works on a car

Features to look for in an Air Compressor for Painting Cars

There are a lot of air compressors to consider when making your purchase, and the features they offer vary widely. We’ve talked about capacity, horsepower and CFM, but there are other features to consider. The key most important features are:

  • PSI: The PSI of your unit matters, but a lot of cars can be painted at a PSI of 40 or higher, which is easy to achieve. The PSI of the models below are listed in the product description, with many models greatly exceeding the required PSI minimum for painting cars.
  • Pump Life: The pump on a compressor will die eventually, so make sure to check to see how long the model you choose can run without needing replacement. A 50,000-hour model, like the Quincy, will last for over 2,083 days.
  • Continuous vs Automatic: Compressors offer both automatic and continuous options. Automatic options will work well with trigger sprayers, but the continuous option is virtually hassle-free.
  • Drain: There are manual and automatic drain options. The manual drain will require more work on the user’s part and vice versa. If you’re looking for a low maintenance model, an automatic drain compressor is the ideal choice.
  • Wheels: Air compressors, especially professional-grade models, can be very heavy. You’ll need some equipment to move these compressors around. Wheels can make the process a lot easier, but there are a few air compressor manufacturers that don’t include wheels. If you want the compressor to be as easy to transport as possible, always choose a compressor that features wheels.
  • Adjustable Options: If adjustable power regulators or belt options are available, this will allow you to have greater overall control of your compressor. While there is more complexity with adjustable options, these are worth it for anyone who takes car painting seriously.
  • Cooling: The addition of a cooling system is a major bonus. Cooling systems will keep the internal motor and its components cool so that the lifespan of your compressor is extended. While not a must-have feature, cooling is definitely a great addition to every compressor.
  • Filters: Most models come with filters, and these filters work to keep the air clean when the compressor is in use. Small spaces can quickly fill with smoke and fumes, so filtration will work well in these situations.
  • Noise: There are silent systems that some units have which keep the air compressor’s noise production to a minimum. If working in tight spaces, some air compressors can be so loud that it becomes difficult to hear.
  • Warranty: Compressors are an investment, and you want to make sure that there’s an appropriate warranty offered to ensure that your investment is safe. Research the company you plan to buy your compressor from and choose one that offers a long warranty – there are a lot of them.
  • Reviews: It goes without saying that you’ll want to read through reviews and see what other consumers are saying about a product and company. Does the product work well? What type of warranty is offered? Does the company provide great customer service? These are all things you’ll need to consider.

Choosing an air compressor is a difficult job, and we’ve done our best to try and make your choice a little easier. We’ve reviewed a few of the leading air compressors that meet our stringent standards for car painting.

This Old House has a great video on choosing an air compressor that will also provide you with detailed information on making the right compressor choice.

2017 Air Compressors for Painting Cars

Quincy QT-7.5 Air Compressor

The Quincy QT-7.5 air compressor is a reciprocating air compressor that features 7.5 HP of power on 230 volts. Quincy designs their air compressors for lifelong usage, with a key focus on efficiency.

The QT-7.5 produces more power at a lower horsepower than the competition to lower operating costs.

This model features:

  • 50,000-hour pump life
  • 23.8 CFM at 100 PSI
  • 37″ x 24″ x 74″ dimensions
  • 80-gallon air tank
  • Max PSI of 175
  • 3/4″ air outlet
  • 22.6-amp motor
  • 40 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 100{63e9163d2c17d0b069b8deee763be7330d4e0c7ed51605edf339b1f505433272} duty cycle

Quincy’s air compressor provides years of use without an issue or increased noise production that plagues a lot of other air compressors. This model remains quiet even after a year on the same duty cycle.

The motor runs at 1,750 rpm, which is lower than a lot of competing models, but with the advanced efficiency, you don’t lose power.

The two air filters keep the air clean and remove any fumes that might irritate the user.


  • Cast iron design with 50,000-hour pump life
  • Efficient design uses less fuel without sacrificing power
  • Quiet design allows less noise production


  • Requires maintenance kit for the warranty

The only downside the QT-7.5 has is that you’re required to buy the maintenance kit to receive your warranty. You’ll need the kit anyway, but you’ll have to pay to ship the kit, which is just an added expense.

Aside from this small complaint, Quincy offers a high-end, leading compressor that has more than enough capacity for car painting.

EMAX Compressor ESP10V080V1

EMAX’S vertical air compressor is a space-saving model that offers a silent air system, yellow exterior, 10 horsepower and 80-gallon capacity. This compressor has a continuous mode that eliminates the unit’s wear and tear.

Low noise output, this air compressor has 12 bars of pressure with a 5-year warranty. The model features:

  • 50,000-hour cast iron pump
  • 1,750 RPM motor
  • 110-volt dual timer
  • Belt tension adjuster
  • Automatic and continuous run options
  • Cool-tek cooling to reduce heat by 35{63e9163d2c17d0b069b8deee763be7330d4e0c7ed51605edf339b1f505433272}
  • 39″ x 32″ x 75″ dimensions
  • Automatic drain features

EMAX offers a low maintenance air compressor that remains 35{63e9163d2c17d0b069b8deee763be7330d4e0c7ed51605edf339b1f505433272} cooler than the competition. There are also great maintenance options, including automatic draining and belt tension adjustments, to expand the life of your compressor.


  • 50{63e9163d2c17d0b069b8deee763be7330d4e0c7ed51605edf339b1f505433272} duty cycle reduces wear and tear
  • Auto drain design
  • TEFC dust and waterproof design
  • Silent air system keeps noise to a minimum


  • First oil change required after 50 hours

EMAX provides a very low maintenance air compressor, yet this compressor does require an oil change after the first 50 hours of usage. While not a big deal, this is something to consider when making your purchase.

This might be the right air compressor for you if you want a vertical, near-silent air compressor that doesn’t skimp on power.

Ingersoll-Rand Air Compressor

Ingersoll-Rand provides a 7.5 horsepower, 80-gallon air compressor that can max out at 24CFM at 175 PSI. This model offers top-end power to tackle your toughest jobs with ease – including car painting.

Durable and economic, Ingersoll features:

  • 8,000 RPM free speed
  • 7.5 HP motor
  • 24 CFM at 175 PSI
  • 1/4″ air inlet
  • Two-piece construction
  • Pressure-free lubrication
  • Adjustable power regulator
  • Single phase design

Ingersoll-Rand designed this air compressor to be an easy maintenance option for users. The two-piece construction makes it slightly easier to move this compressor – especially since it doesn’t have wheels.

Pressure-free lubrication keeps this single-phase compressor running smoothly, too.

Working torque, something many compressors don’t divulge, is 25 – 350 feet per pound.


  • Power regulator is adjustable
  • Produces superior power at 24 CFM at 175 PSI
  • 80-gallon tank offers plenty of capacity for all needs


  • No wheels

The one con that this air compressor does have is that they didn’t incorporate wheels into the design. A lack of wheels makes transporting the Ingersoll very difficult. This model is also vertical, so it’s a tad harder to move.

You’ll need the right equipment to move this compressor.

But with superior power, fast free speed and a two-piece construction, this might be the right air compressor for you.

EMAX Compressor ES07V080V1

EMAX offers a 7.5 HP, 2 stage vertical air compressor that comes with a built-in silencer to keep the unit’s noise production to a minimum. This compressor features a matte black color, and it has an 80-gallon tank for superior holding capability.

The OPD motor is able to produce 1,750 RPM and also features a Flow-tek disc valve designed for two things: longevity and performance.

This model offers:

  • Silent air system
  • 1,750 RPM motor
  • 50,000-hour boiler life
  • 7.5 horsepower motor
  • 80-gallon capacity
  • 2-stage cast iron design
  • Concentric disc valves for maximum performance
  • Tank drain pipe
  • 3-year warranty
  • 39″ x 32″ 75″ dimensions

EMAX provides a long warranty of 3 years, a tank drain pipe and a silent air system. With easy draining, this model will provide you with a low-maintenance option for all of your air compression needs.


  • Gate valve oil drain allows quick oil changes
  • Built-in cooler adds to the unit’s longevity
  • 80-gallon capacity with 7.5 HP motor
  • Exceptional customer service


  • Extremely heavy at 950 pounds

EMAX’s unit is heavy with no wheels, so you’ll need equipment to move it into place. While not the biggest concern, it’s something to consider if you’re looking for a compressor that’s easy to maneuver.

Otherwise, this is a powerful compressor that has all the features needed to paint your car.

DeWalt DXCMV5048055 Two-Stage Air Compressor

DeWalt’s two-stage air compressor is built for longevity and a quiet operation. Powered by a 5-horsepower motor, car painting is made easy with the DXCMV5048055. Running off of 230 volts, this model features:

  • 2-stage design
  • 80-gallon capacity
  • 175 PSI maximum
  • 5 horsepower motor
  • Tank and pressure gauge panel
  • 17 CFM at 175 PSI
  • 17.9 CFM at 100 PSI
  • Thermal overload protection
  • 1/4″, 1/2″ and 3/4″ nozzle connector
  • 80″ x 31.5″ x 34.7″ dimensions
  • 2-year pump warranty

DeWalt’s air compressor features three inlets that allow you to power multiple tools at once. You’ll be able to use power tools to quickly take off your car’s tires before painting, perform mechanical work or anything you wish.

Powerful and versatile, the 2-stage design offers a high PSI of 175 and even has overload protection. The integrated control panel makes monitoring your air compressor’s pressure a breeze.


  • 175 PSI allows for multiple tool operation at once
  • Overload protection protects the motor from damage
  • 80-gallon capacity offers ample capacity for painting cars
  • Integrated panel allows for pressure and tank monitoring


  • Heavy weight and large dimensions

DeWalt’s model allows for three hose inputs to allow multiple tools to run at once. There are inlets for 1/4″, 1/2″ and 3/8″ lines, so hooking up multiple items is a breeze. If you’re interested in versatility, DeWalt might be your go-to air compressor.


Quincy is the clear winner in our roundup. The QT-7.5 packs a lot of power with a 7.5 HP motor, and this model has 40 CFM at 90 PSI along with 23.8 CFM at 100 PSI.

It’s a close race, with all models offering their own advantage, but the 50,000-hour pump life, large capacity and 22.6-amp motor offer everything needed for painting. The model’s reciprocating design and one-phase operation set it apart from the competition.

Ideal for car painting, Quincy is designed to last, with a cast iron construction that offers over a decade of use, a quiet design, and a 100{63e9163d2c17d0b069b8deee763be7330d4e0c7ed51605edf339b1f505433272} duty cycle.