AGH!! So frustrated - 2nd Compressor in a week - what is going wrong?

I bought the Harbor Freight 1/8 hp Airbrush compressor a couple weeks ago after I met a lady at a convention who owned one and loved it. Well, needless to say I am a little ticked because I am on my 2nd one after exchanging the first one and I cannot figure out what is going wrong. I have used all the correct attachments, teflon tape for the seals and these are my 2 main issues.

1) It is losing air SOMEWHERE because about every minute it turns on for a second and then shuts off. This was happening with the first compressor so I took it back.

2) No matter how high I set the regulator, if I hold open the airbrush trigger for more than a few seconds, it drops to 20 psi and never goes any higher, no matter what I do to the gauge. (this is a new problem unique to this compressor. Didn't have the problem with the other one) As soon as I let go, the gauge goes back up to 30, 40, 50 whatever I set it at, but no matter what, I can't spray any higher than 20psi.

PLEASE if anyone can lend me some advice, I would greatly appreciate it. Please refrain brand bashing if you happen to not be a fan of Harbor Freight! :lol: But at this point I think I will have to go with something a bit more higher end!


Active Hunter
at this point I think I will have to go with something a bit more higher end!
That's really your only option, HF is notorious for being a lower-end quality. My advice would be to get something with a decent size tank (like a 4 Gallon "Pancake" style air compressor). That way you can run an airbrush a lot without the motor actually kicking on every few minutes.


Your problem is Harbor Freight. You probably could buy a used one on craigslist that works perfectly for the same price. Look for campbell hausfeld or craftsman used.