Skip to Content

Air Tool Oil Substitute: Everything You Need to Know

Air tool oil is necessary for air-powered tools. It helps lubricate the machine hence keeping it well maintained and workable. The oil also helps flush particulate. One important thing is that this oil is not an ordinary one but is specific for air-powered machines.

So what if one does not have it or fails to find any. Fortunately, there are substitute oils for air tools on the market. If you are interested to learn about the alternatives, this article is a must-read.

What are the substitutes for air tool oil or pneumatic tool oil?

The most common substitutes for air tool oil are ATF (automatic transmission fluid), hydraulic oil, and synthetic oil. Again, be cautious of the viscosity and property when getting the alternatives. Oil for pneumatic tools is not only for lubricating but also to flush particulate properly. 

When you purchase alternative oils for pneumatic tools, make sure they are perfectly compatible. Air tool oil is usually thin in viscosity. Also, look for the fluid properties. It is crucial because oils do not only lubricate but also help flush down particles from your tool. 

In addition, if the oil is too thin it won’t last long. Again if it is too thick, it will be tough to add and may stay there for too long and hinder the flushing purpose. It is always better to get suggestions from the tool manual or the manufacturer. 

They can only give you a green signal on a proper substitute.  

Typically when we consider substitute oil for pneumatic tools, we think of ATF (automatic transmission fluid), hydraulic oil, and synthetic oil. 

So why these specific oils are a great substitute for air tool oil? Regardless of how different are serving various purposes, they are excellent alternative oil for an air tool. 

ATF (Automatic transmission fluids):

ATF (Automatic transmission fluids) are excellent in reducing wear and tear, avoiding deposits, resisting breakdowns, cooling, and as a hydraulic medium. However, make sure to select the one suited best to your air tool.  

ATFs contain antioxidants, demulsifiers, anti-wear agents, and detergents. However, do not forget to pick the one which is compatible with your air tool. The manufacturer will do the task for you.

Marvel mystery oil:

Marvel mystery oil is once again a great alternative. It allows the prevention of rust formation and provides appropriate lubrication. It can also dissolve the gum and the sludge resulting in maximum power of the tool. It also helps lengthen life. 

Hydraulic oil:

Hydraulic oil, which has low viscosity at a low temperature, flows fluently in air tools. This oil is also immune to oxidation. It means this can prevent the tools from forming rust. Once again, find the ones that complement your device. 

Synthetic oil:

Synthetic oils are very refined and help air tools protect from overheating. It also flows more fluently in air or pneumatic tools. In addition, it assists in reducing noise. 

3-IN-ONE professional-grade pneumatic tool oil:

The 3-IN-ONE professional-grade pneumatic tool oil is superb for air or pneumatic tools. It can dissolve gum and sludge rapidly. Also, it can remove calcium build-up and moisture effectively. It allows the machine to work fast and harder.

Again, the oil helps in extending the life of the tool. 

Can you use these as air tool oil? 

In order to be the substitute for pneumatic tool oil, the oil needs to be lightweight in viscosity. The oil should not allow gum or sludge to build up. Otherwise, it will result in the poor performance of the tool. 

Also, since air tool tends to produce heat, it needs to be controlled. The perfect air tool oil alternative will help lessen the risk of overheating. 

Previously, we discussed the oils that are ideal substitutes in pneumatic tools. Now, we will be focusing on the oils that will fail as alternative oil for the air tool. 

Vegetable oil:

Firstly, vegetable oil. Since this type of oil is readily available in the household, we may get tempted to use it as a lubricant for pneumatic tools. However, it seems to be a bad idea. We should never use vegetable oil in greasing air tools. 

They produce gummy residue and sludge inside the devices. It will affect the overall performance. It also attracts dirt and dust and leaves solid deposits that will later be stuck into the parts. And it won’t be easy to lubricate afterward.  

Regular oil:

Again, we should not use regular oil in air tools. Petroleum, for example, is observed to use on commercial pneumatic tools. However, this is not a good idea because this lightweight oil can cause the rubber O-rings to break down or disintegrate.

In addition, it also creates gummy residue inside the tool, making it work slowly. 

Compressor oil:

Now compressor oil is not designed to use in air tools. Their typical weight is 20 to 30, which is more than an ideal air oil should have. Also, compressor oil can only be ideal for compressor tools. 


Finally, we do not recommend using WD40 in pneumatic tools. They will do nothing as they are not designed to work efficiently in air tools. 

What oil is used for air tools? What weight or viscosity is air tool oil?

Air tool oil is typically a synthetic or conventional oil. It helps keep air-powered machines functionally active and maintained. One needs to apply oil to the air intake of the device. When air passes throughout the tool, the oil moves and lubricates all the parts. 

Air tool oil is made lightweight. It implies the viscosity of the oil. By this, we understand how thick the oil is. 

You can test it for yourself. Put a small amount of oil between your fingers. Touch them together. Now pull apart and observe how long the oil sticks. You will consider it a lightweight oil when there will be little to no bond. 

The viscosity differs between oils. According to Marvel, air tool oil is a relabeled MMO. It has an only weight of 5wt. Again, one can use a 10wt oil. However, it should be free of detergent. 

Air tool needs oil that has low weight. It allows better function and performance of the tools. They will not stay for long inside the devices and will help lubricate better afterward. The heavy-weight oil will do the opposite. 

It will linger for a long time and may hinder greasing in the future. 

Is air compressor oil the same as air tool oil?

Compressor oil and air tool oil are not the same. Compressor oil is designed for air compressors tools. Therefore, it won’t help much when used in an air tool machine. Nevertheless, one can use compressor oil inside the air-powered device. 

Pneumatic tool oil is thinner, unlike compressor oil which is thicker and has more weight. Air tool oil has anti-rust properties.

It is possible to dab some compressor into the air tool. However, do not put air tool oil into a compressor. It is because air too oil is too thin to support the system and demand of a compressor machine. 

How to oil air tools? 

The air tool needs regular lubrication. While some need daily lubrication, some air tools contain grease fitting.

There are many ways to lubricate pneumatic tools. For tools with a removable cap, inject oil every day. Others without a cap may need contestant oil feed. We have written steps on how to oil the air-powered tools. 

Clean the oil feed: 

The feed system needs regular cleaning. It is essential when you need to lubricate. It will also keep the machine well maintained. For cleaning, wipe and blow the feed of the machine. You do not need to use oil here. 

Lubricate air fitting: 

To lubricate the air fitting, use 4 to 5 drops of pneumatic tool oil. If you use the device all day long, you need to repeat the process halfway through the day. However, when used sometimes, oil it when used or needed. 

Lubricate O rings:

There are several O rings inside the tool. Lubricate them using your finger. Take a few drops of pneumatic tool oil and spread it on the O ring. It will allow the smooth function of the machine. 

Frequency of lubrication: 

The manufacturer recommends lubricating pneumatic tools throughout the day. Do not wait until the end. Also, do not apply an excessive amount as it may cause more damage than good.

Again use a few drops at the end of the workday. It will protect the interior metal components from any residual moisture buildup. 

Final thoughts

Some substitutes for air-powered tools are ATF, hydraulic oil, and synthetic. They are thin in viscosity and allow the machine to run smoothly. In addition, the oils do not allow rust, gum, or sludge accumulation. Always find out if the alternatives are compatible with your pneumatic tool or not.