The air compressor is a must-have for any serious automotive DIYer. This highly versatile equipment is basically used when operating various pneumatic tools such as hammers, spray guns, wrenches, sanders, tile inflators, and sprayers. Compared to regular tools, pneumatic power tools offer more power and torque and are easier to maintain because they contain less moving parts. So if you're planning on equipping your car garage with pneumatic tools, it's best to put your money on a highly reliable compressor. To help you make the right choice, here are some factors you need to consider first:
For auto repairs, a highly portable air compressor is highly recommended. There are actually several portable types to choose from: twin-stack, wheel barrow, and pancake compressors. A twin-stack compressor is perfect for car maintenance and auto clean-up tasks because this is the most portable compressor. If your workspace or garage is very small, a pancake compressor is the perfect choice because it's ideal for small spaces. Now if space isn't a limitation, a wheelbarrow type is a good option.
The right tank size depends on the type of auto repair or maintenance tasks you'll need to do. Keep in mind that tank sizes range from 1 to 80 gallons. If you're planning to use air tools on lightweight tasks such as airbrushing and tire inflation, a tank that has a capacity of less than 5 gallons is enough. However, for heavy-duty auto repair jobs that involve drilling, sanding, and removing nuts, you'll need to invest in a compressor with a tank that has a capacity of more than 5 gallons.
As a guide, take a look at the specs of your air tools. Figure out which one has the highest CFM (air volume a compressor can pump in a minute) and PSI (amount of air pressure released by the compressor) requirements. Then compute for the 50% of the CFM, and add that to the figures as a safety measure. So if a tool needs 4 CFM at 95 PSI, then choose an air compressor that can provide at least 6 CFM at 95 PSI.
In terms of air compressor pumps, they can either be oil-free or oil-lubricated. Oil-free types make use of piston rings and are quite small and portable. These features make these compressors ideal for light tasks. As for oil-lubricated ones, these are equipped with pumps that rely on lubricated components in order to function. These compressors are bigger than their oil-free counterparts, making them perfect for heavier auto repair and maintenance tasks.
Options are either a gas-powered or electric compressor. Gas-powered types are for tasks that require higher pressure output. However, they're very noisy and emit plenty of exhaust, so they should only be used in well-ventilated areas. Electric compressors, on the other hand, don't emit that much noise or exhaust, so they're best for indoor workspaces.
Other features worth looking into
Safety features such as an air-cooling system and thermal overload switch helps extend the lifespan of the air compressor motor. The AC system cools down the machine, while the overload switch automatically turns the motor off once it overheats.