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How to Choose the Right Air Compressor for the Automotive Industry

Selecting the right equipment to run your business is a challenge. This can be especially true when it comes to choosing an air compressor for automotive repair shops. The fact is, not all air compressors are created equal, and some are better for this kind of work than others.

Auto repair and auto body shops have specific air compressor needs. Choosing a compressor made to fit the restaurant or medical industries for repair work would do a disservice to your business. You’ll need something that can provide the right amount of compressed air at the right pressures.

When it Comes to Compressed Air Usage for the Auto Industry, Knowledge is Power

Mechanics often use intermittent compressed air. We know this because you likely don’t have your finger pressed down on the same tool all day long. You take breaks, and you alternate tools, depending on the needs of the car. That being said, the demands are still high.

Air compressors are measured in standard cubic feet per minute, or SCFM. The typical mechanic at an auto repair shop generally uses around 5 SCFM. Of course, it can vary higher or lower depending on the workload and demands of the day.

So, if you want to understand your peak usage requirements, determine how many mechanics you’ll have working at the same time, on the busiest day.

Collision repair shops may have an even heavier compressed air usage. Activities such as sand blasting, grinding, and spray painting require high levels of compressed air. They are more continuous, and therefore involve a higher amount. For collision repair, the total SCFM can run between 50 and 100, depending on the necessary tools to complete the job.

Whether you’re in auto assembly or collision repair, you’ll want to factor in the amount of pressure loss at your facility. This is simply the amount of pressure loss between the compressor and the point of usage. Piping, air dryers, or filters can contribute to a drop.

It Doesn’t Help to Simply Guess High on Air Pressure

What I mean by that is simple. You don’t want your air compressor lines running higher than what’s actually needed. The higher the amount of air, and the higher the pressure, the more heat and the more energy generated. It’s a higher wear and tear on your already costly investment.

Bottom line: the only way to achieve optimal air pressure is with the right equipment and regular maintenance.

Choosing the right air compressor for the automotive industry maximizes the return on your investment in equipment, your business, and labor. It helps conserve energy and money while maximizing productivity, but only if air pressure, loss, and usage are under your control.

When you work with a company such as Compressor Services, you can sustain your business on an air compressor tailored to meet your business’s needs. This way you conserve energy and save money, while maximizing your investment in your business.

Consider Your Surroundings

If you place the best compressor in a questionable environment, you’ll receive questionable results. When choosing an air compressor for auto repair shops, make sure you take your work environment into account.

Where are your power sources located? Is there adequate ventilation? How will other areas of the business be impacted by this placement? Be sure to think this aspect of the installation through, or consult with a professional.

Furthermore, a full loop of piping will work better than a single line that dead ends. These details can provide for almost twice the air capacity and prevent you from overspending on the compressor itself.

Plan for Your Electrical Needs

An air compressor is possibly the largest energy consumer in your shop. Make sure you understand what kind of electrical capabilities you have in your shop before considering which industrial air compressor to buy.

An air compressor can draw up to seven times its full load on startup. Another way to say this is that it needs seven times as much energy to start up, as it does to run normally. You’ll need to make sure that you purchase an air compressor that can operate within the capability of your building’s electrical system – or consider retrofitting the electrical.

Make Sure You Understand Your Uses

What you use your air compressor for on a given day may change. But on a whole, this can have a significant impact when choosing an air compressor for auto repair. If your uses are intermittent, like a mechanic’s might be, a rotary screw compressor or a reciprocating compressor might be a good option. You can determine the size, horsepower, and the type that you will need based on use.

But if you operate a collision repair shop, you may need something more capable of handling a continuous use. Rotary screw compressors may most likely meet that demand. You’ll also want to factor in things like how quiet you need the compressor to run, or how clean you want the air to be.

For instance, if you are using spray paint you absolutely need clean compressed air. Many rotary screw applications come with clean air ready to go. For other needed applications, you may be able to get by installing the right air filters or air dryers to improve the cleanliness of the air.


This is a general overview with some basic considerations in choosing an air compressor for auto repair. Remember to factor in your current piping and electrical capabilities. Remember to consider your usage, and that it won’t pay to simply estimate high. You’ll need to pay good mind to your uses as you search for an air compressor that’s right for you.

If you’re looking for some help finding the right air compressor for auto repair, contact Compressor Services today. We understand what it takes to find an air compressor that fits your company’s needs.

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