The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Used Air Compressors

Like if this guide is helpful
The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Used Air Compressors

An air compressor is a handy device to have on hand as they can be used for a wide range of purposes, from powering a myriad of devices to filling tyres and other objects with air. Air compressors, which produce a concentrated burst of air on demand, are great for powering automotive tools and filling tyres to the proper air pressure. These devices cut labour time by converting the energy in the compressed air to power to increase a tool's efficiency. They can eliminate the need to drive to the petrol station to refill tyres that are low on air.

Air compressors are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, so there are now several types of air compressors that are appropriate for consumer use and light-duty commercial use. Some consumers may want to consider buying a used air compressor to save a little money, especially if they do not plan to use the compressor on a daily basis. When shopping for used air compressors , there are several factors that prospective buyers should consider.

Do Learn the History of the Air Compressor

Although it may be a bit difficult to see the correlation, the air compressors in use today got their beginnings as bellows that metalworkers used to stoke their fires in ancient times. A bellows allows a large amount of air to enter on one side and compresses the air as it is forced out of the smaller end on the opposite side. This burst of concentrated air made it possible for metalworkers to get their fires to burn hotter. The higher heat allowed the metalworkers to produce higher quality metal works, including weapons, tools, and armour. The bellows also allowed metalworkers to smelt the harder metals, such as copper, lead, iron, and tin.

The bellows and other early air compressor models used either human or animal power to produce enough power to compress the air. Though not nearly as powerful as the air compressors of today, these early compressors did serve a wide range of functions. The invention of steam power provided even more power to air compressors and extended their utility. For example, miners used steam-powered air compressors to power their rock drills, which allowed them to reach greater depths in less time. Early deep sea divers also used steam-powered air compressors to provide air when diving.

The Modernization of the Air Compressor

Air compressors became even more powerful and versatile following the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the internal combustion engine. Incorporating an internal combustion engine allowed air compressor users to find a whole host of new uses, such as in automatic car washes, powering pneumatic tools, and filling tyres quickly and easily.

Do Know What to Consider When Buying a Used Air Compressor

When shopping for used air compressors for automotive uses, there are several factors prospective buyers should consider. While buyers could certainly begin to shop for used air compressors without considering these factors, they may end up wasting their money on a used compressor that either does not suit their needs or is not in good shape and does not last long.

Types of Air Compressors

The first factor for prospective buyers to consider when shopping for used air compressors is which type of compressor best suits their needs. There are three main types of air compressors, each with strengths and weaknesses. Prospective buyers should learn a little bit about each type and determine which one is best suited to their needs.

Piston Compressor

Piston compressors , for example, are mainly used in industrial settings, like automotive plants. They are available in models ranging from five to 1,500 horsepower, so they are ideal for a wide range of jobs; however, they are somewhat noisy and fairly large. Consumers or small businesses do not typically use these air compressors, though some automotive garages may find them useful.

Rotary Screw Compressor

Rotary screw compressors are often used to replace piston compressors in industrial settings. These compressors are recommended when a compressor is put to near-constant use because they do not overheat and provide large amounts of high air pressure.

Rotary Sliding Vane Compressor

The third type of air compressor is the rotary sliding vane compressor. This type of compressor is commonly found inside air conditioners, automatic transmission pumps, and flight instruments. While they are much quieter than the other types of compressors, they may not be powerful enough for automotive use.

Air Compressor Types Chart

The types of air compressors can be summarized in the following chart. This chart highlights the suitable applications for each type of air compressor.

Air Compressor Type

Suitable Applications

Piston Compressor

Industrial and commercial use

Rotary Screw Compressor

Construction sites, industrial use

Rotary Sliding Vane Compressor

Air conditioning, automotive use

Most individuals should find that the rotary screw compressor is the best compressor for most automotive needs. In addition to its portability, it is quiet and lightweight. Some prospective buyers who need really powerful compressors may want to take a look at some piston compressors, but most people find these too cumbersome and noisy for general use.

Do Remember to Consider the Power Source

Another factor to consider when shopping for air compressors is whether to purchase an electric compressor or a petrol-powered compressor . While electric compressors can be used by simply plugging them in, users are limited to the length of the power cord. An extension cord could be used as well, but users also have to be careful not to trip over the long cords or get them caught in machinery that could sever them.

Petrol-powered compressors are fully portable, provided they are small enough to move easily; however, individuals who use these compressors have to purchase petrol regularly and store the extra petrol and the compressor safely so the petrol does not combust.

Don't Neglect to Check the Tank Size

A compressor's tank size dictates how long the compressor can run continuously. Air compressor tanks range in size from 6 to 270 litres, though prospective buyers should keep in mind that compressors with larger tanks are heavier and more difficult to move. Tools that require a large volume of air to run or users who plan to use pneumatic tools continuously throughout the day should opt for larger tanks, such as a 50-litre compressor , while individuals who use their tools sporadically throughout the day or who use tools with low volume requirements can most likely get away with smaller air compressor tanks.

Do Learn the Performance Ratings

An air compressor's performance rating indicates how powerful the compressor is. Air compressor power is measured in Standard Cubic Feet per Minute (SCFM) and the higher the SCFM, the more powerful the air compressor. Prospective buyers should be sure to determine how much power they need so they can purchase an air compressor that is powerful enough to suit their needs.

Do Consider the Condition of the Air Compressor

When buying used items, such as air compressors, it is important to ascertain the condition of the air compressor before making a purchasing decision. While a properly maintained and cared for compressor can provide years of problem-free service, one that has not been properly maintained can cost the new owner lost time, money for repairs, or both. Whenever possible, prospective buyers should inspect the compressor before deciding to purchase it and should fire it up and listen to it as well. Although this cannot guarantee that the compressor has been properly maintained, a visual inspection and listening to the sounds the compressor makes can help a buyer detect any potential problems.

Don't Purchase an Inadequate Air Compressor

Prospective buyers who end up purchasing air compressors that are not powerful enough or large enough to suit their needs have essentially wasted their money. On the flipside, purchasing an air compressor that is too powerful or too large may be a waste of money and could make transporting the compressor more difficult or even impossible. Ideally, prospective buyers should determine their current needs and then look for compressors that are a size or two larger and a bit more powerful. This way, the compressor works for the user right now and is powerful enough to grow with the user for a while.

Do Research Used Air Compressors

Used air compressors can save buyers quite a bit of money over new models, which may allow some buyers to buy a bigger, more powerful model for the same price as a brand new model that is smaller and less powerful. When shopping for used air compressors, buyers have a couple of options: They can browse local classified listings, ask around, or shop online.

Because classified sections are typically narrowed down by location, prospective buyers may not be able to find a suitable compressor in their local classifieds. Shopping online using sites like eBay allow users to see all of the listings for air compressors as well as narrow them down by locale if desired.

How to Buy Used Air Compressors on eBay

If you are ready to take a look at the listings for used air compressors on eBay, go to the site's homepage and type " air compressors" into the search box. Even if you know you only want to shop for used air compressors, it is a good idea to leave the term used out of your initial search because that may filter out potentially relevant items. Once the search results load, you can narrow down the search results using the used filter or other filters provided on the search results page.

Before making a purchasing decision, prospective buyers should read through the all of the listings carefully to determine which type of air compressor is being sold and other pertinent information about the air compressor. Buyers should inspect the photographs carefully to see if there is any evident damage and should converse with the seller to determine if the compressor was well-cared-for. Prospective buyers should also take a look at the seller's shipping rates and return policy to determine whether the compressor can be returned if the buyer is not satisfied with the compressor.


An air compressor is a handy addition to any garage setting, be it professional or amateur. Prospective buyers shopping for air compressors can see that they can be quite costly, especially if a larger, more powerful model is needed. A great way to get the most power for the least cash is to purchase a well-maintained used air compressor. When shopping for used air compressors, prospective buyers should first determine their minimum requirements, including compressor type, tank size, and power rating, and then search through the listings for used compressors to find units that meet these criteria.

Because air compressors require routine maintenance and upkeep, prospective buyers should take care to purchase only used air compressors that are in excellent condition so they do not end up wasting their money. Once a prospective buyer knows the do's and don'ts of buying a used air compressor, he or she can find the perfect air compressor on eBay.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides