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Air Compressor Smells Like Burning Rubber – What to Do?

So you suddenly smell something like burning rubber, and you realize it’s your air compressor. You start to wonder what could be the cause and, most importantly- what to do? A series of reasons could be responsible for why your air compressor is smoking. Your air compressor can start smoking if the oil has not been changed for a long time, or if you use an inferior oil product for your air compressor. Many manufacturers specify the brand of synthetic oils that must be used in their air compressor models. The user manual also lets you know the frequency of servicing, during which the oil should be changed.

Air compressor smells like burning rubber, what to do:

Once you notice smoke coming out of your air compressor, the first and most important thing to do is switch it off and quickly troubleshoot it. There are various reasons for the smoking of an air compressor, and it could happen without warning. When this happens, it may sometimes have a burning rubber odor. The air compressor is designed so that oil circulates properly, lubricating the air pump and engine. There is usually a recommended oil level, and when this drops, smoking occurs.

Besides the oil problem, there are also various reasons smoking can occur in your air compressor, as we will find out below.

In this article, we will be writing about some tips to guide you if you observe excessive smoking and the burnt rubber smell of your air compressor.

Troubleshooting your Air Compressor

The list below shows the everyday problems of an air compressor. It also gives a few tips on how to fix those issues.

You hear a knock while the compressor is loading

Rod bearings not connecting
Change rod.
Wrist pins, wrist pin bearings.
Change entire piston parts.
Rod nuts are losing.
Make tighter.

The compressor vibrates

Lose mounting bolts.
Tighten bolts
The compressor is not properly mounted.
Before tightening, ensure the feet of the compressor are touching the floor.
Uneven Pulley and flywheel.
 Belts loose and bent crankshaft
Tighten belts and replace the crankshaft.

Air is blowing out of the inlet

 The Inlet valve may be broken
Change the valve.

Too much noise when used

So many loose accessories.
Ensure to tighten any loose ends.
Lack of oil in the crankcase.
Check the bearings for possible damage and refill the oil level.
Piston and valve plate hitting against each other.
The compressor cylinder head should be removed and inspected. Put a new gasket and put the head back together again.
Loose compressor floor mounting.
Tighten the bolts on the air compressor. Consider replacing the vibration pads as well.
The defective crankcase and excessive crank end play
Repair or replace. Properly adjust crank end play.
Scored cylinder.
Replace cylinder.

Oil in the released air

No free flow of compressor air intake.
Clean or replace air filters.
Too much oil in the compressor.
Drain down to the set gauge mark.
Use of wrong oil.
Make sure you use the right oil.
Wrong installation of Piston rings
Crankshaft should be changed.

Not enough pressure

Leaks or blockages.
Check for and repair leaks or blockage in the hose or pipes.
No free flow of air intake.
The air filter should be clean or replaced.
Sliding belts.
Make tighter.
Small Service hose
Get a larger hose and replace
 Excessive air.
Using smaller tools to control air usage.

The receiver cannot keep the pressure when unloaded

Faulty valve
Change the faulty part and ensure the valve assembly is clean.

More wear of the belt than normally

Misalignment of pulley.
Rearrange the pulley
Belts too tight or too loose
Ease the tension.
Pulley or flywheel wobbles.
Look out for worn-out/bent crankshafts, keyways, or pulley bores.  
Rough belt groove of pulley or flywheel not
File smooth.

The air output is much higher than normal

 Dirty surfaces.
Clean all surfaces
Poor ventilation.
Mend ventilation or change the location of the compressor
Head gasket blowing up
Change the head gasket.
No free flow of air intake and worn-out valves
Clean or replace parts.

The pressure builds quicker than normal

 Too much water in the receiver.
Drain out the water.
Over speed of receiver
Monitor or regulate speed.

The reset mechanism cuts our repeatedly

Motor overload.
To prevent damage, it must be shut down.
Fault reset switch
Adjust or replace.
High temperature.
Create airing.

The fuse blows repeatedly

 Incorrect size of fuse.
Ensure the correct size of fuses is used.

Air leaks when the compressor is pumping

It means the safety relief valve has stopped working well
Change and put a new safety valve
Gasket starts to leak.
Get a new gasket.

The compressor suddenly stops

Spoilt unloader valve.
Get a new unloader valve

The receiver pressure builds slowly

The air filter is dirty.
Ensure the air filter is clean or changed.
 the cylinder head gasket is blown
Install a new one.
Broken or worn intake or discharge valves.
Install new ones.
Air leaks and loose belts
Change belts or make joints tighter
Slow speed
Be sure to monitor the speed.

From the above table, it can be seen that there are various reasons why your air compressor is burning. We have also provided the probable causes for these issues as well as possible solutions to them. Now let’s look at some other essential tips.

Tips to Repairing your Air Compressor

Once you notice or perceive a burning smell from your air compressor, it is best to contact a service professional immediately for most people. The longer you wait, the further the problem will spread throughout your compressor and lead to costly repairs.

  • Find a useful Service Provider: Get the best from your air compressor by finding the right service provider.
  • Replace word and older parts: Your air compressor could quickly work far better and more efficiently when replacing some of the worn or older parts for new ones.
  • Know what to repair and maintain yourself: When you own the machine, you might be tempted to do all the maintenance yourself. But an air compressor is a complicated machine, and depending on your knowledge, it can be wise to go to a specialist for some of the maintenance and repairs. That way, you are sure that your device is in good health.

Maintaining an Air Compressor

Like any other mechanical device, it is essential to perform routine maintenance:

● Pump oil level

If your compressor is oil-free, this part of the maintenance is unnecessary. But you must check the air compressor pump oil level for all other air compressors. When the level is low, it can destroy the pump.

  • Step 1: Turn the machine off. Remove the mains cable if applicable.
  • Step 2: Put the machine on a flat surface and leave it there for 5 minutes.
  • Step 3: Remove the oil fill cap
  • Step 4: Check the oil level and see how the oil looks. If it seems dirty, you should change the pump oil.
  • Step 5: If needed, fill with oil. Make sure you do not overfill.

You can find Air Compressor Pump Oil here.

● Change the pump oil

If your pump’s oil looks nasty or dirty, it needs to be replaced.

  • Step 1: Turn the machine off. Remove the mains cable if applicable.
  • Step 2: Make sure the oil is cooled. If you just used your machine, you must give the oil some time to cool down.
  • Step 3: Put the machine on a flat surface.
  • Step 4: Remove the oil fill cap.
  • Step 5: Put an oil container underneath the drain cap. You can also use an old bucket.
  • Step 6: Remove the drain plug and let the oil fully drain.
  • Step 7: Put the drain plug back. Make sure it is tightened sufficiently.
  • Step 8: Fill with new oil. Wait a few minutes and recheck the level. If needed, add a little bit again.

You can find Air Compressor Pump Oil here.

● Clean or change the air filter

The air filter cleans the air that the engine uses. Over time, it can get dirty or even clog.

  • Step 1: Turn the machine off. Remove the mains cable if applicable.
  • Step 2: Make sure the air compressor is cooled down.
  • Step 3: Remove the filter cover. Normally there are a few screws that need to be unscrewed.
  • Step 4: Get the air filter out.
  • Step 5: Clean the air filter. You can use a vacuum if needed.
  • Step 6: If the air filter looks bad, you should replace it.
  • Step 7: Put the air filter back and reattach the cover.

You can find Air Compressor Air filter here.

● Other maintenance

To further prolong the air compressor’s lifespan, you should also check:

  • Fuel tank: Ensure the compressor fuel tank is clean
  • Shutoff system: Check the correct working of the air compressor shutoff system
  • Nuts: Check the different nuts and bolts and ensure they are all tight. The shaking of the air compressor may loosen some of them.
  • Vibration: Check for more than usual vibrations or strange noises.
  • Leaks: Check for oil and air leaks
  • Safety release value: Check that the safety release valve is working correctly.
  • Belts: Check the belts for wear and tear
  • Pressure: Check the differential pressure in the compressed air filter
  • Hose: Inspect the hose for damage and wear and tear.
  • Temperature: Check and ensure that the operating temperature does not exceed a safe level
  • Condensation: Drain the condensation from the air compressor tank

● How often should you check and maintain your Air Compressor

How often you should do maintenance on your air compressor differs significantly from your usage. If you use it daily, you have to check things more often than if you only use your machine sparsely.

– Before using your Air compressor:

  • Drain the water from the air compressor tank
  • Check for oil and air leaks
  • Check for more than usual vibrations or strange noises
  • Check the level of the Pump oil

– Monthly

  • Check for loose bolts and nuts
  • Check the safety release valve
  • Check the air filter
  • Belt check
  • Check for air and oil leaks

– Yearly

  • Change the oil in the pump
  • If you have a gas air compressor, give the engine its yearly maintenance

Final Remarks

When there are performance issues with an air compressor, the problem can often be traced to a significant number of issues. A burning air compressor results from internal factors, external conditions, or sometimes both (as explained above). While in use, at different points, the air becomes hot due to the processes involved, but it swiftly cools down before it gets to the endpoint. Note that something becomes wrong with the machine if the air gets too hot for the compressor to take.

It is vital to carry out regular maintenance of your air compressor, like checking for leaks, cleaning the fuel tank, etc. We believe that you are now well aware of the different ways your air compressor could burn out, having gone through this article. More importantly, you have been equipped with possible solutions to carry out when such a situation occurs. We hope you had a lovely read.

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  1. Aubrey Robinson says:

    I had no idea there were so many reasons an air compressor could smoke.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Aubrey! It’s essential to be aware of the potential issues with an air compressor. Hopefully, the information provided will help you troubleshoot any smoking problems in the future.

  2. Denise Black says:

    What is the best way to find a reliable service provider for air compressor repairs?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reaching out, Denise. The best way to find a reliable service provider for air compressor repairs is to ask for recommendations from friends or read online reviews. Good luck!

  3. Katrina Hansen says:

    How often should I change the oil in my air compressor?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Changing the oil in your air compressor should be done as per the manufacturer’s guidelines, usually every 3-6 months. Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent issues like smoking and burning rubber smell.

  4. Alicia Neal says:

    Can using the wrong oil lead to smoking in the air compressor?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, using the wrong oil can lead to smoking in the air compressor. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s specifications for oil type and servicing frequency to prevent this issue.

  5. Terrance Harrison says:

    Is it safe to troubleshoot the air compressor on my own?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It’s best to contact a service professional when dealing with an air compressor emitting a burning smell to avoid further damage. Regular maintenance and timely repairs are key to keeping your compressor in good health. Hope this helps!

  6. Ernest Reid says:

    I’ll make sure to check my air compressor if I notice any burning smells.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for being proactive, Ernest! If you ever notice any issues with your air compressor, feel free to refer back to our post for troubleshooting tips.

  7. Lonnie Obrien says:

    I appreciate the detailed list of common problems and solutions.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Lonnie! I’m glad you found the common problems and solutions helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions or need more assistance.

  8. Audrey Fernandez says:

    I never knew about the importance of using the right oil in the compressor.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading! It’s crucial to use the right oil in your compressor to prevent smoking. Regular maintenance and troubleshooting are key to keeping your air compressor running smoothly.

  9. Martha Medina says:

    This article helped me understand why my air compressor might be smoking.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Martha! I’m glad the article helped you understand your air compressor issue. Remember to switch it off immediately if you notice smoke and refer to the troubleshooting tips provided.

  10. Nelson Reid says:

    Very informative article, thanks for sharing these tips.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Nelson! If you ever notice your air compressor smoking or smelling like burning rubber, make sure to troubleshoot it promptly following the tips provided in the article. Stay safe!

  11. Christy Campbell says:

    Should I be concerned if my air compressor is making more noise than usual?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It’s important to address the issue right away to prevent further damage. Turn off your air compressor and troubleshoot immediately. It could be a sign of internal issues that need attention.

  12. Irene Harper says:

    What are some signs that my air compressor needs maintenance?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your question, Irene. Signs that your air compressor needs maintenance include a burning rubber smell, excessive smoking, and unusual noise. Switch it off immediately and troubleshoot to prevent further damage.

  13. Madison Kelley says:

    Thank you for the detailed explanations and tips on air compressor troubleshooting.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Madison! I’m glad you found the troubleshooting tips helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions. Happy compressing!

  14. Julie Rodriguez says:

    What should I do if I see oil in the released air?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      If you see oil in the released air, make sure the oil level is correct and use the right type of oil. Check the air filter and piston rings for proper installation. Hope this helps!

  15. Gene Vargas says:

    I’ll definitely be more cautious with my air compressor after reading this.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading! We appreciate your caution with your air compressor. Remember, regular maintenance is key to preventing issues. Feel free to reach out with any questions.

  16. Jeffery Bailey says:

    Useful video links provided for each potential issue, very helpful.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Jeffrey! I’m glad you found the video links helpful for troubleshooting air compressor issues. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions.

  17. Same Wood says:

    Great tips for troubleshooting an air compressor!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for the positive feedback on troubleshooting air compressors! If you have any specific questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out.

  18. Christine Cole says:

    How can I prevent air leaks in my compressor?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To prevent air leaks in your compressor, check for faulty safety relief valves and replace as needed. Leaking gaskets can also be a cause – make sure to replace those as well. Hope this helps!

  19. Ralph Wagner says:

    Are there any warning signs before an air compressor starts smoking?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      If your air compressor is smoking, immediately turn it off and troubleshoot. Possible causes include low oil levels and using the wrong oil. Refer to the user manual for proper maintenance.

  20. Kristina Hernandez says:

    Good to know about the different issues that can cause an air compressor to smoke.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment, Kristina! I’m glad you found the information on air compressor smoking issues helpful. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.