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Compressor Oil - What Color Should It Be?

Published by Filter Element Store on Oct 04, 2023

"What color is my compressor oil supposed to be?". Compressor oil should be slightly yellow to almost amber in color when brand new. It might sound like a silly question, but it is very important to monitor the color of your compressor oil. The air compressor operators should be aware of the color when first poured, followed by a maintenance schedule to check the color and condition of the compressor lubricant.

We recently shipped some PAG 46 coolant / compressor oil to a customer and they called questioning the color of our coolant. This is a common replacement for Ultra Coolant and other compressor brands and it's one of our most popular grades of oil. As you can see in the included image the customer provided, our PAG 46 oil has a yellow / amber tint and is fairly clear.

The customer was concerned because the color of our ISO 46 / SAE 10W-20 compressor oil did not look anything like the oil in their compressor. Their compressor distributor had recently changed the compressor oil, but the sample of oil the customer tested was pure black. We questioned this and they responded below.

"They had **** **** service guy come out Friday and confirmed as well that the coolant should be the light color. I got the picture of the OEM coolant they put in there. He did grab the old used coolant. He should have known better. See the picture of the old oil he put in."

The very used-up compressor oil was re-used by the air compressor distributor and could have caused some major issues. It is important to keep an eye on your compressor oil and follow a regular preventative maintenance schedule. If the oil is much darker than when new, or if it has a burnt smell, it might be time to change it. If your compressor lubricant is milky or cloudy, you may have some issues with water or coolant in your system.

You can also save money by pouring your own compressor oil, like our Made in USA compressor oil, and avoid a compressor service technician reusing your compressor oil!

We sell top-quality aftermarket compressor oil and are not affiliated with any OEM manufacturers or trademarks.

Last Modified: 04 October 2023