Air Compressor Not Working Right?

Without a well-functioning air compressor, a body shop cannot perform many of its important services. Since many machines and tools are powered with air, such as paint guns, the compressor is an especially important machine, and it's quite the headache when it goes haywire.

Even the best and highest quality compressors break down sometimes. In the instance of yours acting up, you'll want to check the owner's manual as the first order of business so that you can peruse the manufacturer's suggestions before trying to figure it out on your own.

Below we will look at some of the most common air compressor issues, why they occur, and give you some pointers on handling the problem.

From there, you can often troubleshoot and fix the issue without professional help. While some of these can be done on your own, if you are not sure or are nervous about making the fix, you may want to call in professional help to make sure it gets done right.

Air compressor troubleshooting

In the course of your air compressor's lifespan, you may run into one or more of these issues. Don't panic -- some of them have simple fixes you could do yourself.

Not turning on

There are a few different reasons that your air compressor won't turn on:

  • No power

  • Low oil

  • Tank pressure is low and/or the pressure switch is not making contact

This problem can usually be solved by one of the following steps:

  • Reset the device

  • Replace the oil

  • Adjust or replace the pressure switch

By trying these various methods, you can better pinpoint what is causing the issue and rectify it. If none of these issues or fixes work, it may be time to call in a professional.

Air temperature too hot

Should the compressed air come out of the machine at a higher than normal temperature, it may be time for cleaning out the compressor and/or replacing some parts.

There are a few common causes of extremely high air temperatures:

  • Dirt or lint buildup on internal mechanisms and filters

  • Poor ventilation

  • Run down valves/gasket

For this issue, it can be a good idea to start with the most basic potential fix and go from there. If the problem isn't resolved after checking and cleaning the filter, cylinder, discharge tube and intercooler, move the air compressor to a better ventilated area.

Should neither of those fixes do the trick, it may be time to replace the head gasket and/or the valve plate.

Low pressure

If you notice insufficient pressure at the point of use, there are several parts in your air compressor to take a look at for leaks, loose parts, or other nuisances.

After checking for leaks or restrictions in the hose and piping, and repairing any necessary filters, belts, and hoses, you may find that you have an excessive air requirement causing the low pressure.

If that is the case, you may just need to switch to smaller tools or use fewer at the same time.

Making noises

Hearing a cling-clang or other sound when your air compressor is operating? You may have a piece or two that is loose and/or defective causing the grief.

First, check and tighten any loose ends or bolts on the following pieces:

  • Pulley

  • Flywheel

  • Belt & belt guard

  • Cooler

  • Clamps

  • Floor mounting

If that doesn't work, try repairing or replacing the crankcase, which may be defective.


A leak normally indicates that a part in your air compressor is faulty a needs to be replaced.

Check to see if there is an issue with the safety relief valve or a leak in the gasket. If so, you will probably need to replace the damaged or malfunctioning part.

Producing a liquid 

Seeing oil trickle out of the air compressor, or noticing a milky oil substance in the reservoir?

There are a couple common fixes for this:

  • Gasket needs replaced (oil is leaking out)

  • Not enough drainage (condensation is slowing down the process)

By changing out the necessary parts and performing consistent maintenance, you will better address the issue.

Fuse blowing often

Every now and then, a blown fuse is no big deal. But if it is occuring often, you probably have an incorrect fuse size, faulty valves and/or overly tight belts.

Check the voltage requirements to see if the fuse is getting the right amount of power for the size. When buying fuses in the future, check the ampere rating so you know you're getting the right one for your needs.

Fix Your Air Compressor In No Time

As with any important piece of equipment in your auto body shop, at some point or another you may run into some issues with your air compressor. It's extremely important to perform routine maintenance on your compressor just as you would with any other machine or tool.

While sometimes you may run into an issue requiring professional assistance or possibly even a replacement compressor, minor problems can usually be resolved without too much headache or costly payments.

Other times, it might be the best bet to spring for a new one.

Is it that time for you to replace the air compressor in your shop? Shop our wide selection of compressors and accessories here at Auto Body Toolmart to find the perfect one for your shop today.

By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to analyze website traffic and improve your experience on our website. Learn More