Air Tools Buying Guide

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Air Tools Buying Guide

Air tools are valuable pieces of equipment in garages and workshops. They are designed in a range of styles to help owners accomplish almost any job, including sanding, paint spraying, drilling, and air inflation. Air tools are more powerful than their electric counterparts, and are also more durable, as they have fewer moving parts.

Begin shopping for air tools by selecting an air compressor. These units supply the power needed to operate air tools, and are designed in several sizes. The traditional air compressor is a piston-type unit, and has a large tank for storing compressed air. Smaller, more portable units are also available. These compact compressors can be used almost anywhere, though they are less powerful than piston-based units. It is also important to match the psi rating of a compressor with the air tools, hoses, and fittings that are used. Once an air compressor is selected, buyers can choose from a range of tools. Modern air tools are available to handle every type of task a buyer might encounter, so browse available items to select the best products for a job.

Air tools and compressors can be purchased from hardware stores, department stores, and online retailers. Some websites specialise in air tools and other accessories for mechanics, while marketplaces like eBay have listings from private and commercial sellers. Consider all options to find the best prices and items, and choose air tools that can provide the power and reliability needed to handle automotive work.  

Choosing Air Compressors

The first step in purchasing air tools is to select an air compressor. Choosing the compressor is important because it determines the amount of power an air tool has available, and how long it can be used without the user pausing or taking a break. There are two primary types of air compressors: compact and piston-based. These each have their benefits and drawbacks, so learn more about both to choose the best products. It is also important to consider a unit's psi (pounds per square inch) rating, as it affects the tools and hose lines that can be used.

Piston-Type Air Compressors

Piston air compressors are the most common type of compressor used in commercial and industrial settings. These products have a tank that stores compressed air, which allows tools to be used for long periods of time. As the tank begins to run low on air, it begins compressing to refill the unit. Piston-based compressors are also more powerful than compacts. On the other hand, these units can be large and heavy, which means they must often be kept in the same area. When shopping for a piston-based compressor, it is important to consider psi ratings, tank capacity, and the difference between one-stage and two-stage units.

Pounds Per Square Inch (psi) 

Compressors are rated by psi, which reflects the force of the air sent through hose lines and into a tool. Higher psi ratings indicate more power. Because the psi rating on a compressor must be compatible with tools and hose lines to ensure proper use, it is worth shopping for these items at the same time. Be sure the air compressor's psi does not exceed the limitations of the tools.

Tank Capacity

Buyers shopping for a piston air compressor must choose between several different size tanks. These are measured in litres, and range from very small, six-litre tanks, to 200-litre units and higher. Larger tanks provide greater psi for longer periods of time, making them the ideal choice for heavy duty work. However, they occupy more space and are also more expensive to purchase.

One-Stage vs. Two-Stage

Tanks can be either one-stage or two-stage, which refers to how many pistons are used to compress the air. Two-stage tanks are extremely powerful, with higher psi ratings, and can be used to handle almost any type of work.

Compact Air Compressors

Compact air compressors are smaller than piston units, and more portable. However, to achieve the smaller size, compact compressors must sacrifice power. These products typically have a very low psi rating, and are designed mostly for filling car tyres, as well as other household items like footballs or bicycle tyres. Although they are ideal for mobility, compact compressors can be insufficient for many jobs related to auto repair and maintenance.

Choosing Air Tools

There are several types of air tools available for purchase, and they can be used to perform almost any task in a garage. In addition to checking psi ratings, buyers should also consider the CFM rating while choosing tools and a compressor.

Cubic Feet Per Minute

The amount of air used by a tool can be measured in a few different ways, though one of the most common measurements is CFM (cubic feet per minute). This rating is usually determined by using a tool at 90 psi, and indicates the amount of air consumed with intermittent use. For example, the average CFM rating estimates the amount of power needed if the tool is only used for an average of 15 seconds each minute. Therefore, if an air tool is used continuously, such as a polisher, it is a good idea to multiply the CFM by four. Tools with high CFM ratings require compressors with large tanks to ensure there is sufficient air for the job.

Types of Tools

Buyers can find many different types of tools available, including those for body work, repairs, and cleaning. The following table lists some common types of air tools, along with an average CFM rating for each.

Air Tool

Average CFM

1-inch Impact Wrench


1/2-inch Impact Wrench


1/4-inch Ratchet


3/8-inch Ratchet




Tyre Inflator


Tyre Changer


Keep in mind that the ratings for specific tools can vary from one product to the next. Also, buyers should remember that the CFM reflects non-constant use of a tool.

Hose Lines

Hoses are an important part of an air tool setup, as they connect tools with the compressor. There are three primary types of hose designs available: rubber, braided, and coiled. Rubber hoses are the least expensive, though they can develop kinks, potentially limiting performance. They are also less durable than other products, and often require regular replacement. For hoses that can last longer and resist kinks, select braided and coiled hoses. 

How to Buy Air Tools on eBay

Air tools of all types can be located on eBay. To find them, begin a search from the home page. You may enter keywords or use category options to initiate a search. For example, to see listings for impact wrenches, type "air tool impact wrench" into the search field. Alternately, you may navigate category listings in eBay's motors section. Regardless of how the search is begun, you may continue to use both methods to find increasingly specific items.

Click on the name or image of an item to see its full listing. There, you can find information about its price, condition, shipping methods, and more. Be clear on the payment methods accepted by the seller, and be prepared to pay for your purchase as soon as you finalise the transaction. Examine available photos of the air tool, and compare them with the description provided by the seller. Look for any details from the manufacturer of the air tool, as well. In some cases, sellers may only provide a specifications sheet for the item, along with an indication of the item's condition.

Review seller profiles to feel confident in your purchase. eBay provides detailed information about the histories of its sellers to help buyers make informed choices. In item listings, you can find two important pieces of information about the seller: the positive feedback rating and number of completed transactions. These can be used to quickly assess a seller's experience and reliability on the site. For more information, including comments from previous buyers, click on a user's name.


Air tools are a valuable addition to the equipment in a garage or workshop, and are created to help users perform a variety of tasks. Air tools use the force of compressed air, and are more powerful and durable than electric tools. Begin buying air tools by selecting a compressor. Look for units that can provide sufficient amounts of air and psi for the types of work to be done. Compact air compressors are small and portable. They can be used in many situations, but may lack the power needed for some jobs. Piston-type compressors use a large tank to store compressed air, and can be used for larger, more difficult jobs. Piston-based tanks can range significantly in size, and larger tanks can be used steadily for longer periods of time.

Once a compressor has been selected, begin choosing air tools. Products are available to accomplish almost any task in a garage. Buffers, sanders, drills, ratchets, wrenches, and tyre inflators can all be used with air compressors. Consider the CFM for a tool. This rating indicates the amount of air that is used per minute with intermittent use. If a tool is to be used without pauses, multiply the CFM by at least four. It is also important to match tools with the appropriate hoses and fittings to ensure proper performance. Check psi ratings for all parts of an air tool setup, and check connections to be sure no leaks are present that might compromise power. With the right products and proper use, air tools can be used to increase the efficiency of work done on motor vehicles.

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