What Type of Oil Do I Use for an Air Wrench?

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The small knob on the butt of this air tool's handle unscrews to reveal an oil inlet.
The small knob on the butt of this air tool's handle unscrews to reveal an oil inlet. (Image: Air Tool image by Joelyn Pullano from Fotolia.com)

Air wrenches, also called pneumatic wrenches, require regular lubrication to prolong their life and enhance their performance. Like car engines, air wrenches must receive the right type of oil in the right place. The type of oil used to lubricate air tools is generally referred to as air tool oil and usually enters the tool through an oil inlet protruding from the butt of the tool's handle.

Air Tool Oil Retailers

Air tool oil is available at most hardware stores and home improvement warehouses. Retailers frequently place air tool oil in the tool department or near other oil products, such as 2-cycle oil. Most air tool oil manufacturers explicitly market their products as air tool oil. Some suitable oils might be labeled as tool lubricant or pneumatic tool oil.

Finding the Right Oil for Your Tool

Although generic air tool oil adequately lubricates most pneumatic tools, you should consult your tool manufacturer's specifications for specific information. Information regarding acceptable lubricants for specific tools can be found in tool instruction manuals and through manufacturers' websites. Never use automotive oil, 2-stroke oil or other lubricants intended for other uses. Oils that are not specified for air tool lubrication might permanently damage pneumatic tools.

Applying Air Tool Oil

Air tool oil should be applied in a tool's specified inlet. On pistol-gripped air tools, this inlet is usually located at the butt the tool's handle. A screw cap covers most air tool oil inlets and the word "Oil" is usually stamped on the cap's top. To apply air tool oil, unscrew the oil inlet's cap and apply a small portion of oil into the cylindrical opening.

Benefits of Regular Lubrication

Air tool oil lubricates the mechanical assemblies within an air tool. Whether the tool rotates, hammers or spins, its internal components grind against one another. Regular application of oil reduces the wear caused by regular tool use and substantially improves the performance and lifespan of a pneumatic tool. Air tools that are not lubricated suffer from decreased power and regular malfunctions. Furthermore, an improperly lubricated air tool might jerk, kick-back or harm its operator.

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