How Often Should I Change The Oil In My Air Compressor?

How often should I change the oil in my air compressor?

Changing the oil in an air compressor is key to extending its lifespan and keeping its performance in tip-top condition. Unfortunately, a vast majority tend to forget that this task has to be done on a regular basis and only realize the need when the air compressor starts to malfunction. Changing the oil is preventative maintenance that can help you save on the cost of repairs or new parts later on. Of course, those who own oil-free air compressors are exempt from this responsibility. 

How Long Does Air Compressor Oil Last?

The frequency or oil change interval will greatly depend on the type of air compressor and how often you use it. So, be sure to read the user’s manual provided upon purchase and track the time log on your air compressor. You can also use a dipstick or oil glass to check the oil level every now and then.

Generally speaking, reciprocating or piston air compressors will require new oil after every three months while rotary screw air compressors would vary from 1,000 to 3,000 hours. There is no reason to panic if you’ve accidentally misplaced the manual, you can always search for the exact model online, refer to the manufacturer’s website, or ask an expert from your local machine shop or body shop.

What Oil is Used for Air Compressors? 

Factoring in the kind of oil you use for your air compressor is always wise since it is one way you can ensure its proper functioning. While some use typical motor oil, it is always better to opt for compressor oil or to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to guarantee the validity of your warranty. Moreover, motor oils are usually mixed with some detergent which works wonders for an engine’s internal combustion but can trigger faster carbon build-up in compressors. 

The choice between standard and synthetic compressor oils will again depend on the type of compressor you have. Standard (68-grade and 100-grade hydraulic) compressor oils are usually more affordable and most suited for light to medium-duty air compressors that are used intermittently in homes or small workshops. On the other hand, heavy-duty or rotary screw air compressors commonly stationed in construction sites or those continually kept running will be more compliant with synthetic compressor oils. 

Importance of Routine Oil Changes to Avoid Issues in Air Compressors

The oil in an air compressor does more than lubricate its motor and the parts surrounding it. It also acts as a coolant to prevent automatic shutdown and sealant to intercept air leakage. 

Below are the issues associated with low or contaminated air compressor oils:

  • Overheating

Oil absorbs some of the heat produced in the process of compressing air.


  • Wear and tear

Since debris and nanoparticles can build up with prolonged use, it is absolutely crucial to drain old oil before refilling the chamber with new oil to lower the risk of contamination.


  • Corrosion

Oil coats the metal joints and components in your air compressor to prevent expensive repairs brought about by rust.


  • Breakdown

Exposure to heat and water can oxidize oil over time which decreases its effectiveness or capacity to fulfill its intended purpose. Failure to change the oil can then cause the air compressor’s motor to break down.


A Guide to Changing the Oil in Air Compressors

Step 1: 

Turn on the air compressor for a few minutes to warm the oil inside and decrease its viscosity. Doing so will facilitate a smoother flow of oil out of the chamber.

Step 2: 

Turn off and unplug the unit.

Step 3:

Be ready with a container to catch the oil from the chamber.

Step 4: 

Remove the drain plug from the air compressor. You may also take the fill cap off to let air pass through and make it quicker to drain.

Step 5: 

Once the old oil is completely removed, reattach the drain plug to the unit and wipe any spills should there be any.

Step 6: 

Remove the fill cap (if you haven’t already) and slowly fill the chamber with high-quality compressor oil as advised by the manufacturer. Use a funnel to avoid unnecessary spills and a dipstick or sight glass to know if the oil chamber is sufficiently full.

Step 7: 

Reattach the fill cap, and voila, you’ve successfully changed your air compressor’s oil.


Changing the oil in an air compressor is essential to ensure that it is optimal and safe to use. However, it is only one of many things you’d have to check and maintain. You would also have to keep its air filter in mind to be certain of the air’s quality and purity. Also, inspect if the motor and metal parts are well-lubricated and rust-free. Those with belt-driven air compressors must then examine the rubber of each belt weekly to see if it remains to be firm and flexible so that movement between pulleys is properly balanced. Air compressor suppliers and technicians will definitely suggest the timely upkeep of these machines to avoid any damage before it happens.

On the off chance you would need parts to repair the unit, Lian Beng Machinery Co is the best air compressor supplier in Singapore. They offer a variety of air compressors and parts from established brands around the globe. It can even be as specific as a direct-drive air compressor from MonsterAir or as random as gardening, construction, or food processing equipment. Rest assured, they also have experienced technicians dedicated to providing above-standard products and services.