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

DIY car painting is becoming more popular as vehicle owners try to save cost and get a more custom paint job. To do the job correctly and efficiently at home, you need a proper air compressor, as it is what powers your paint gun. Besides choosing a good model, you have to pick the right air compressor size, and here we show you how.

Why I Need Air Compressor When Painting Car? 

An air compressor is a special tool that powers spray guns. It compresses air using power generated from a motor. The compressed air is then delivered in a pressurized flow to power the paint gun. 

When painting cars, the air compressor helps break up the paint and delivers a fine paint mist through the nozzle on your paint gun. By providing a strong flow, the air compressor helps ensure you get a fine, liquid particulate paint for a more even coat over the vehicle’s surface.

The consistent flow delivered by air compressors ensures better utilization of the paint to minimize wastage. Additionally, painting the vehicle with a good air compressor is faster and easier than most other painting options. What’s more, it ensures you get full coverage even when working on the hard-to-reach areas.

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

With the many air compressor models out there, picking just the right size for painting your vehicle can be hectic. However, here are a few considerations you need to make for a more informed choice.

  1. Tank Size

The tank size on your air compressor determines the quality of paint you get and how fast you finish the job. A smaller tank often leads to uneven application and poor finish quality as you are often forced to wait for the tank to refill in the middle of the job, which can lead to overspray in some sections.

Something with a tank size that is more than 50 gallons is often more appropriate when painting vehicles. With these larger tanks, you can paint the surface more evenly in just one pass. However, the air compressor still needs to have a good CFM rating, even with the larger tank.

  1. CFM Rating

CFM rating is the number you need to pay more attention to as you choose a good air compressor for painting your car. High CFM indicates the air compressor can pump out more air, which allows you to paint the vehicle in a single pass.

The higher air volume you get from compressors with a high CFM rating ensures the paint lands on the surface more evenly, and the coat you get is more uniform. Painting a vehicle requires an air compressor that can provide over 12 CFM steadily. But, those with 14 to 20 CFM are even better, but they can be quite expensive.

  1. Air Pressure

Air pressure is measured in PSI, and it is another crucial factor to consider when picking the right air compressor size. While it is easy to assume a high-pressure model is the best, this is not necessarily true. 

You need a high volume, low pressure (HVLP) spray painter to ensure you do not require a very high pressure setting to get a good finish. With these spray painters, you require under 15 PSI for the base coat, and a little over 20 PSI should be enough for your clear coat.

Note: If you already have a spray painter, it will be a great idea to get an air compressor that matches its air pressure and CFM requirements for the best results.

  1. Horsepower

Horsepower indicates how much work the air compressor can do when handling a single vehicle painting job. Something with at least 10 horsepower should be enough for painting vehicles, provided it has enough pressure output and a good CFM rating. 


According to HomeGearX, the Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V is a fantastic recommendation. It is a great all-round model with a 60-gallons tank size, 14.3 CFM, and a maximum pressure of 175 PSI to ensure it can handle any vehicle paint task and consistently deliver exceptional results.


With the right air compressor size, painting your vehicle should be faster and easier, and you can always be sure of getting a top-quality job. By considering factors like the CFM rating, air pressure, and tank size, finding the perfect one for your DIY vehicle painting should be a breeze. 

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