Can I Use Hydraulic Oil in My Air Compressor? Learn the Pros and Cons.

If you’re not familiar with the different types of oil for air compressors, you might be wondering if it’s okay to use hydraulic oil. After all, they’re both oils and they serve similar purposes – lubrication and heat transfer. However, the answer to whether you can use hydraulic oil in your air compressor is not as simple as a yes or no.

To better understand the compatibility of these two oils, let’s take a closer look at their properties and functions. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether hydraulic oil is a suitable alternative to compressor oil.

Understanding Hydraulic Oil

If you’re wondering whether you can use hydraulic oil in your air compressor, the short answer is no. While hydraulic oil and compressor oil may look similar, they have different properties and are engineered for specific purposes. Hydraulic oil is designed to transfer power and lubricate hydraulic systems, while air compressor oil is formulated to help with cooling, sealing, and minimizing wear and tear.

Putting the wrong type of oil in your air compressor can lead to reduced efficiency, decreased lifespan, and potential damage to the machine. So, be sure to double-check your owner’s manual or consult with a professional if you’re unsure about what type of oil to use in your air compressor.

Properties of Hydraulic Oil

Understanding hydraulic oil is crucial for machinery operators and maintenance professionals. Hydraulic oil is a type of fluid used in hydraulic systems that transfer power and energy from one component to another. This fluid is highly viscous, which enables it to transmit force without compressing, making it ideal for use in a wide range of equipment.

The properties of hydraulic oil such as viscosity, oxidation stability, and rust prevention ability determine its performance and lifespan. Viscosity is a key consideration, as it directly impacts the flow rate and hydraulic system efficiency. The level of oxidation stability indicates whether the oil can withstand high temperatures without breaking down.

Similarly, the rust prevention ability determines the oil’s ability to protect the system components from corrosion. Choosing the right hydraulic oil that matches the equipment’s needs and specifications is vital for efficient operation and minimizing downtime. Regular maintenance and monitoring of the hydraulic oil’s condition can also help extend its lifespan.

can i use hydraulic oil in my air compressor

Uses of Hydraulic Oil

Hydraulic oil is a type of fluid that is commonly used in hydraulic systems to power machinery and equipment. This oil works by transmitting force through a system of cylinders, pumps, and motors that rely on a constant flow of oil to function effectively. One of the most significant benefits of using hydraulic oil is its ability to resist thermal and oxidative breakdown, ensuring that the equipment runs efficiently and effectively.

Understanding the viscosity of hydraulic oil is critical as it affects the fluid flow and equipment performance. Finding the right hydraulic oil for specific applications is essential, as different machines have unique hydraulic systems with varying shell and application requirements. By choosing the right hydraulic oil, machinery and equipment can operate smoothly, reducing wear and tear, and extending their life span.

Additionally, hydraulic oil has different properties that make it ideal for lubricating, sealing, and cooling the hydraulic system, making this fluid essential in various industrial applications.

Air Compressor Oil

If you’re wondering whether you can use hydraulic oil in your air compressor, the answer is a bit complicated. While hydraulic oil does have some similarities to air compressor oil, it’s not recommended to use interchangeably. Hydraulic oil isn’t formulated to handle the high temperatures and pressures that air compressors create, nor does it provide the same level of lubrication.

In fact, using hydraulic oil can lead to premature wear and tear on your air compressor, reducing its lifespan and potentially causing serious damage. It’s always best to use the type of oil that’s specifically designed for your air compressor, as recommended by the manufacturer. This ensures that your compressor will operate at its best and prolongs its lifespan, saving you time and money in the long run.

Properties of Air Compressor Oil

Air compressor oil is an essential component for the smooth operation of your compressor. This oil serves various functions such as reducing friction, preventing rust, and cooling the system. These oils are available in different grades, and it’s essential to select the proper oil that suits your compressor’s requirements.

The oil’s viscosity is an important factor to consider based on the operating temperatures and the type of compressor you have. Also, you should consider the oil’s additives, like detergents, anti-wear agents, and rust inhibitors, as it affects the performance, lifespan, and maintenance of your compressor. It’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for oil change intervals and top-ups.

Neglecting the oil levels or using inappropriate oil can cause accelerated wear and tear, leading to expensive repairs. Proper lubrication of the air compressor’s internal components with high-quality oil can increase the compressor’s efficiency, reduce noise and vibration, and help in extending its lifespan. So, ensure to use the right type of air compressor oil to keep your compressor running smoothly.

Why Use Air Compressor Oil Instead of Hydraulic Oil

Air compressor oil is specifically designed to meet the needs of air compressors, while hydraulic oil is formulated for hydraulic systems. The two oils are not interchangeable because they have different purposes and chemical properties. Air compressors rely on a constant flow of clean, lubricated air to function effectively, which is why air compressor oil is used.

This type of oil is formulated with special additives and synthetic base oils that withstand the high temperatures and pressure generated by air compression. It also helps to protect the compressor’s internal components from wear and tear, corrosion, and contaminants. In contrast, hydraulic oil is used in machines that require high pressure fluid to operate and moves different hydraulic components.

Therefore, air compressor oil is the better choice for lubricating the compressor, while hydraulic oil is used to run hydraulic systems.

Can You Mix Air Compressor Oil and Hydraulic Oil?

Air compressor oil and hydraulic oil are two entirely different types of oils that have varying compositions, properties, and functionalities. Therefore, it is not recommended to mix air compressor oil and hydraulic oil. Air compressor oil is specifically designed for use in air compressors and is formulated to lubricate the compressor’s moving parts and cool the compressor.

It contains anti-wear and extreme pressure additives that provide corrosion protection and prevent rust and oxidation. On the other hand, hydraulic oil is used in hydraulic systems and provides the necessary pressure and lubrication to the hydraulic pump and valves. It also offers temperature stability and viscosity control.

Mixing these two oils can cause serious damage to both the air compressor and hydraulic system, resulting in costly repairs and downtime. To ensure optimum performance and longevity of your equipment, always use the recommended oil for each system.


In conclusion, while it may seem like a tempting shortcut to use hydraulic oil in your air compressor, it’s important to remember that these two lubricants are not interchangeable. Each is specifically formulated for its intended purpose, and using the wrong one could result in costly damage to your equipment. So, while you may be able to get away with using cooking oil in a pinch, we recommend sticking to the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to lubricating your air compressor.

Trust us, your compressor (and your wallet) will thank you in the long run!”


What is hydraulic oil and how is it different from other types of oil?
Hydraulic oil is specially formulated oil used in hydraulic systems to provide power and lubrication. It is different from other types of oil, such as motor oil or compressor oil, in its viscosity, properties, and additives.

Can I use hydraulic oil in my air compressor?
It is not recommended to use hydraulic oil in your air compressor because hydraulic oil has different properties compared to compressor oil. Hydraulic oil is formulated to handle higher pressures and temperatures whereas compressor oil is designed to lubricate and protect the moving parts of an air compressor.

What are the potential consequences of using hydraulic oil in an air compressor?
Using hydraulic oil in your air compressor can lead to poor lubrication, decreased performance, overheating, and even permanent damage to the compressor’s internal parts. It can also negatively impact the compressor’s warranty.

What type of oil should I use in my air compressor?
The type of oil you should use in your air compressor will depend on the manufacturer’s recommendations and the model of your compressor. It is important to use the right oil to extend the life of your compressor, improve performance, and maintain warranty coverage.

Can I use automotive oil or motor oil in my air compressor as a substitute for compressor oil?
It is not recommended to use automotive oil or motor oil in your air compressor because they are not formulated to work in high-pressure and high-temperature environments like compressor oil. Using the wrong type of oil can lead to decreased performance, premature equipment failure, and voiding the compressor’s warranty.

How frequently should I change the oil in my air compressor?
The frequency of oil changes will depend on factors such as usage and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically, it is recommended to change the oil every 500 to 1,000 operating hours or annually, whichever comes first.

Can oil additives be used in air compressor oil?
It is not recommended to use oil additives in air compressor oil because they can negatively affect the oil’s properties and lead to equipment failure. It is best to use a high-quality compressor oil that meets the manufacturer’s specifications.

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