Can You Use An Air Compressor To Dry Your Car? (Safely)

Image Credit: Laineema via Flickr

Image Credit: Laineema via Flickr

Can You Use An Air Compressor To Dry Your Car? (Safely)


One of the most overlooked steps in the auto detailing process is drying the vehicle after being washed. Many are surprised to find out that failing to dry your car after washing it and allowing it to simply air dry can cause water spots that can actually damage your clear coat.

Air Compressor To Dry Car Paint?

Yes, you can use an air compressor to dry your car after washing. They’re great for getting water out of cracks and crevices a microfiber towel can’t reach.

An attachment like the Tornador Air Blow Out Tool helps fan out the air pressure to better dry large panels but still works well on nooks and crannies.

While it is important to dry your car thoroughly after washing it, there is something else you must keep in mind. If you don’t choose the right tool to dry your vehicle and fail to dry it properly, it can result in scratches and swirl marks on the car’s paint surface. 

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using an air compressor as well as the other popular options.

Pros Of Using An Air Compressor To Dry A Car

Generally speaking, a standard air compressor is not powerful enough to thoroughly dry your car after washing. However, this isn’t to say that you can’t use an air compressor for the drying process. Instead of using it to dry your entire car, you may want to just focus on using it on the hard-to-reach areas, such as the grill, crevices, and other nooks and crannies. 

However, air compressors can be great for waxed paint surfaces. This is because the water droplets will bead up and be easy to blow away as opposed to pushing the water around. 

It can also be a great tool to use when you detail cars, or the interior of cars more specifically. An air compressor is capable of blowing out dust, crumbs, etc. from between the seats, the seats themselves, cup holders, and other areas that are incredibly hard for you to reach with your own hand. 


Cons Of Using An Air Compressor To Dry A Car

One of the biggest cons of using an air compressor to dry a vehicle is that it may not put out enough compressed air or have adequate air flow to sufficiently dry the surface of your car or truck.

An air compressor is used for many things other than drying your car. So, when you point it at your vehicle to begin the drying process, pieces of dirt, oil, or condensation may shoot out that have built up inside the tank. You don’t want to be blowing dirt or other contaminants on your car surface. 

Another problem you may have is accidentally scraping the surface of the car with the tip of the air compressor attachment. The same is true with the air hose. Because of this, you want to ensure your attachment/tip has a rubber end to protect the car’s surface and you keep the hose away from the vehicle. 


Larger air compressors are good choices to have enough capacity to thoroughly dry a car, especially larger trucks and SUVs.

Best Air Tool Attachment For Drying A Car Or Truck

Air compressors are great for getting into cracks and crevices with their focused blast of air. However, when you equip your air compressor with the proper attachment, it can make it more efficient at drying your car as a whole.

Tornador Blow Gun Z-014

As far as attachments for your air compressor go, the Tornador Blow Gun Z-014 is by far the best. It’s incredibly versatile in its uses. You can use it for the exterior and interior of your vehicle, inside the garage, and outside of the house. 

This attachment utilizes a tornado-like motion to move air around, making the drying process quicker and much more efficient than some other tools. It is best used to remove water from door and window seams, trunk and hood jambs, wheels, and even engine compartments, but this doesn’t mean it can efficiently remove water from larger areas of the car, such as the hood, roof, trunk, etc.

It can even be used on the interior of your vehicle for superb cleaning between cracks, seams, etc. 


The proper attachment can transform an air compressor from a tool to get water out of tight spots to one that’s great for drying every inch of the exterior.

Other Car Drying Methods

Leaf blower

An electric leaf blower is an incredibly safe and effective option for drying your car because it usually will not blow air out hard enough to cause damage to the car paint. However, leaf blowers do blow hard enough that you won’t spend a lot of time drying your vehicle, possibly only a few minutes or less. 

Ideally, these tools should be blowing air out at roughly 215 mph or more for optimal drying results. You will want to ensure your leaf blower is equipped with an air filter, which will capture dust, dirt, and debris before it has a chance to get onto your vehicle. 

One great thing about using an electric leaf blower to dry your car is that you never have to touch the surface of the car. As a result, you don’t need to worry about scratches from wiping the surface down. Leaf blowers will even be able to get within the nooks and crannies, crevices, and cracks that you normally can’t access on your own. In the end, air simply results in a flawless finish free of swirls. 

BLACK+DECKER – BV6600 High Performance Blower


If you’re going to buy a leaf blower specifically for drying your car, try to buy one with some real power behind it.

Air Dryer

A car air dryer is often better suited for drying your car after washing. These air dryers are specifically designed for this purpose. The dedicated blower tool allows far more control of the air, unlike a leaf blower or leaf vacuum. Some are even equipped with heaters so the air is warmed before it hits the surface of the car, which makes sense when you’re trying to “dry” your car.

MetroVac – Master Blaster

The MetroVac Master Blaster is ultimately the best of the best when it comes to car dryers. It is specifically designed to dry your car in at least 15 minutes, possibly less.  This piece of equipment offers air at speeds of over 600 mph, an 8HP dual motor, dual-speed fans, and a commercial-grade hose. 

The best thing about the MetroVac Master Blaster is it is lightweight and portable. Plus, you never touch your vehicle, allowing for a touchless drying process that will not result in spots, streakers, or scratches. 

Although the Master Blaster comes at a price tag, it is worth it if you take pride in your vehicle, washing it and possibly other people’s cars on a weekly basis. Having a piece of equipment like this will simply make the drying process easier, more enjoyable, and more productive. 


A great tool for pros or anyone that needs the absolute best air dryer, but it’s not inexpensive.

Microfiber Drying Towel

One of the most efficient ways to dry your vehicle is with a microfiber drying towel. These towels make it easier and quicker to dry your washed car. 

Microfiber towels are designed to absorb as much as seven times their weight in water, and they can be used for as many as 600 washings without showing signs of deterioration. 

There are a couple different ways to use a microfiber drying cloth when drying your car. You can perform the swipe and drag technique, which consists of using a damp towel and swiping it along the car’s surface. The dampness of the cloth reduces friction. You can also perform the drop and soak technique, which consists of you placing a cloth on the surface and giving it time to soak up moisture.  

The key is to move the cloth lightly across the car’s surface. You can even pat the surface dry with the cloth. This helps to reduce the chance of damage to the paint from heavy rubbing. 

The Rag Company – Dry Me A River

One of the most popular and effective microfiber drying towels available on the market is the Dry Me a River drying towel by The Rag Company. This microfiber drying towel does a great job at removing moisture following the final rinse. It can absorb as much as 10 times its weight. Using this cloth hundreds of times will still deliver a swirl-free and scratch-free finish.

31WUlM6op L

Whether you’re using an air compressor, leaf blower, or purpose designed air dryer, you’re going to want to have a microfiber drying towel on hand.

What Is The Best Thing To Dry A Car With?

Ultimately, the best thing you can use to dry your car is a car dryer or a microfiber towel. The car dryer is touchless and is specifically designed to dry your car. It works great at blowing moisture out of cracks and crevices. However, it can be less efficient at drying an entire car unless you purchase a larger and more powerful dryer.

While a little more bulky, an electric leaf blower is an excellent and inexpensive tool to use for drying your car or truck. Just be sure to not kick up rocks by aiming at the ground near your vehicle, and be careful not to let the hard plastic outlet hit your finish.

A microfiber cloth works very well because it is designed to soak up a ton of moisture. As long as it is used properly during the drying process, it can be very effective at drying your car without leaving swirl marks or scratches. One thing you must keep in mind is that you must use a clean microfiber towel to avoid dust and debris getting onto the surface of the car and creating swirl marks and scratches while you are drying.

One effective way to dry your car is to air dry the majority of the water off the surface and then follow up with a microfiber cloth to remove any moisture that has been left behind. This is an effective way to dry a car while minimizing the risk of causing fine swirls and scratches in the clear coat.

Adam's Air Cannon
Play Video about Adam's Air Cannon

Whether it’s an air compressor or an air dryer, avoiding physically touching your finish is the safest method of drying your car or truck.

Why It's Important To Dry Your Car

You can spend the whole day thoroughly and carefully washing your vehicle with all the right products. However, none of this will matter if you don’t dry the car and do so properly. 

For instance, a very common mistake people make is allowing their still-wet vehicle to sit out under the hot UV rays of the sun and air dry. Unfortunately, this can leave water spots on your car when it dries due to the minerals and contamination within the water. Often, these water spots can be extremely difficult to remove. Even worse, they can etch down into the paintwork. The hard water minerals can literally bake into the clear coat and have to be polished out.

Conclusion: Air Compressor To Dry A Car

An air compressor can be a great tool for drying a car or truck. It’s made even better with the addition of the Tornador Blow Gun Z-014. Also, using forced air to dry your finish is the only way to ensure that you don’t cause fine scratches and swirls in your clear coat.

While there are multiple ways in which you can dry your car after washing it, what’s most important is to dry it before water spots can form.

In the end, the best option for drying your car to avoid swirls and scratches is going to be using some form of forced air tool, whether this is an air compressor, leaf blower, or purpose-built car dryer, to dry the hard-to-reach areas.

Many will still prefer using a microfiber drying towel to do the bulk of the drying and just using forced air to get into door jambs and other crevices where the towel can’t reach.

Hopefully, this article has helped you decide on the best car drying method for you and your circumstances.

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