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#4691423 - 03/11/18 12:17 PM Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions
TWG1572 Offline


Registered: 12/18/07
Posts: 558
Loc: Madison, Wisconsin
I've got a Harbor Freight 21 gallon compressor. It does not like starting up in cooler weather, I usually have to cycle the start/stop lever back and fourth a couple seconds at a time to keep the reset from popping. After several cycles, things loosen up and away it goes. It will start on its own without throwing the reset.

Are there different oils I could consider to get things moving better when cold? Right now, I just have SuperTech 30W ND in it. Or is this just something I'm going to have to resign myself to during winter? I understand it's not the best compressor, but it works for what i need. Unless it's cold.....

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#4691435 - 03/11/18 12:26 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
Linctex Offline


Registered: 12/31/16
Posts: 6148
Loc: Waco, TX
Always make sure it is starting from ZERO pressure when it is cold.

If that is't what's going on.... something else is wrong (bad capacitor?)
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#4691445 - 03/11/18 12:34 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 18877
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
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#4691458 - 03/11/18 12:47 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
Cujet Offline


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 7157
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
It is perfectly OK to use Mobil 1, 5W-30 in that thing.
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#4691484 - 03/11/18 01:13 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
bubbatime Offline


Registered: 03/18/08
Posts: 5622
Loc: South Florida
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#4691553 - 03/11/18 02:22 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
FlyNavyP3 Offline


Registered: 07/04/16
Posts: 1407
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
I've been using Redline PolyComp 30W in my similar sized Craftsman compressor for about 15 years. Always fires up without tripping the reset or breaker even when I lived in Michigan and it was as cold as 0F no issues. Obviously still no issues here in Florida I change it every 5 years as the compressor doesn't run a ton.
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#4691592 - 03/11/18 02:59 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
Linctex Offline


Registered: 12/31/16
Posts: 6148
Loc: Waco, TX
I don't think the oil is to blame.

There's something wrong electrically - it should start just fine,
or MANY OTHERS with the same or similar compressor would be complaining about it

(and they don't................ so there)

It's just that you got a bad one, that's all.
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(Re:VOA)"it's nearly impossible to actually know the particular additives that are in there at what concentrations."

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#4691620 - 03/11/18 03:23 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
fisher83 Offline


Registered: 01/26/12
Posts: 404
Loc: Omaha, NE USA
I have the same air compressor. The manual that came with mine recommends 30wt when it's warm out and 10wt in the cold so that's what I've been doing. Tractor Supply sells plain non-detergent 10wt oil. I think once I run out of what I have currently I will probably just run a 5w30 or 10w30 synthetic in it year round though.
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#4691742 - 03/11/18 05:43 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: Linctex]
TWG1572 Offline


Registered: 12/18/07
Posts: 558
Loc: Madison, Wisconsin
Originally Posted By: Linctex
Always make sure it is starting from ZERO pressure when it is cold.

If that is't what's going on.... something else is wrong (bad capacitor?)


It was starting at zero pressure. I pulled the relief valve to double check. It does look like starting problems are either related to the check valve (probably not an issue since there was no pressure in the tank) or the capacitor. I guess the capacitor is easy enough to replace if I need to.

It got worse the colder it got, and is getting better as temps are increasing.

I guess I should have RTFM. I didn't even realize that the 10 ND oil was specified for cold weather. That probably would have helped I bet. I see Redline makes one, that might be the easiest just to order.

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#4691799 - 03/11/18 06:53 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
dave123 Offline


Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 2314
Loc: wi
Best recommendation for for cold weather start up you cannot beat Amsoil PCK 30/40 avalible in qts not cheap but for all weather and more so cold weather itís tops. Yes absolutely the problem you are having is in direct correlation to cold weather.

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#4691812 - 03/11/18 07:13 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
Rand Offline


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 12641
Loc: NE,Ohio
is it plugged directly into a wall outlet with stout wiring?

air compressors in the cold take some serious grunt to start.. switch to a syn. oil.
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#4691846 - 03/11/18 07:44 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
Chris142 Offline


Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 16819
Loc: Deplorable in apple valley, ca
I ran GC 0w30 in mine so it would start in the winter without tripping my breaker.
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#4692366 - 03/12/18 11:21 AM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: Rand]
TWG1572 Offline


Registered: 12/18/07
Posts: 558
Loc: Madison, Wisconsin
It's plugged directly into the wall. I can't see the wiring, but the rest of the house is done in 14/2 romex. So I have to assume the garage is too.

I'm going to do the synthetic oil change. Just need to decide if I go with the straight 10 oil, or do a 10-30.

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#4693515 - 03/13/18 02:00 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
mbers1 Offline


Registered: 02/02/14
Posts: 2
Loc: Illinois
I hooked mine up to run 220 volts. Problem solved.
I don't know if that is an option on yours though.


Edited by mbers1 (03/13/18 02:01 PM)

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#4693522 - 03/13/18 02:09 PM Re: Air Compressor Oil - Cold Weather Suggestions [Re: TWG1572]
exranger06 Online   confused


Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 3907
Loc: Guilford, CT
I have a small 4 gallon Campbell Hausfeld compressor. CH actually recommends using Mobil 1 5w30 in it, although the small bottle of oil they included with it is a non-detergent 30w. I used the included oil, and it was horrible trying to start it in cold weather. It tripped the breaker almost every time. After the break-in period, I drained that oil out and switched to Mobil 1 5w30. Night and day difference! It starts up no problem even on the coldest days.

Bottom line: drain that straight weight oil out and fill it up with a 5w30 synthetic oil.
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