5W20 vs 5W30 Oil

If you don’t know what everything implies in the world of motor oil, it may be a bit concerning. Every type of motor oil has a rating on the bottle that tells you what sort of oil it is and whether it’s the correct oil for your automobile.

5w20 and 5w30 are two of the most frequent oil ratings you’ll encounter. Those figures don’t signify anything on their own, and if you’re unfamiliar with how oil is classified, they’re essentially simply a meaningless combination of numbers and a letter.

5W20 vs 5W30

Engine Oils Offer Multiple Benefits

Motor oil was traditionally a basic blend of base oil and additives, according to Pennzoil, UTI’s official lubricants provider and a prominent brand in the industry. Its purpose was to lubricate engine components, decrease friction, clean, cool, and protect the engine.

Motor oil, engine lubricant, or engine oil is any of several substances made up of basic oils and different additives, such as antiwear additives, detergents, dispersants, and viscosity index improvers in multi-grade oils. Internal combustion engines are lubricated using motor oil.

Motor oil is used to minimize friction and wear on moving components, as well as to clean the engine of sludge and varnish. It also neutralizes acids produced by the combustion of fuel and lubricant oxidation. Motor oil can also improve piston ring sealing while also transferring heat away from moving components.

Engine Oils Offer Multiple Benefits

Almost all lubricating oils contain oxidation and corrosion inhibitors in addition to the basic components. Lubricant base stock is used to increase the oil’s detergency, severe pressure performance, and ability to prevent corrosion of engine parts. In the case of non-detergent oil, simply a lubricant base stock is used.

Motor oil degrades over time, transforming into a “sludge-like” substance that is harmful to an engine’s performance. This is a normal process that may be slowed with frequent checkups and adequate care. Even though motor oil is essential for your car’s health if used correctly.

Oils used in motor oils can contain up to 20% by weight of esters for improved additive solubility. Oils made from petroleum-based hydrocarbons, polyalphaolefin (PAO), or their mixes are used in varying quantities in motor oil.

What Do the Numbers on Motor Oil Mean?

Have you ever wondered what 5W20 or 5W30 really means?

W ( Winter ) – shows oil performance in cooler engine temperatures when the engine hasn’t been running. While the number before the W indicates the oil’s viscosity at low temperatures.

5W20 vs 5W30

The lower the number, the thinner the oil is, and the better the cold temperature/cold start performance of the oil. The number following the W indicates how thick the oil is at the typical operating temperature for the engine.

The Thick & Thin of Oil Viscosity

The resistance to the flow of a fluid is known as viscosity. Because the molecules of fluid are attracted to one another, it takes energy to separate them and generate flow. Larger molecules attract each other more intensely and have a higher viscosity.

Friction is defined as the energy necessary to overcome molecule-to-molecule attraction and create fluid flow. As a result, the viscosity may be thought of as a type of molecular friction.

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The viscosity and viscometric behavior of engine oil is typically regarded as the most significant physical and chemical characteristics.

what is viscosity

The viscosity of a lubricant has traditionally been linked to wearing resistance. The J300 classification system, which defines viscosity levels for engines through a series of grades, was created by SAE early in its existence, recognizing viscosity as vital to engine function.

The viscosity levels in one or two temperature zones determine these classes. The grades are now established for engine operating temperatures as well as for winter temperatures when the oil has an impact on starting and pumping.

Here is an explanation about the engine oil codes, SAE codes (Society of Automotive Engineers) :

5W20 Motor Oil

The decoding of the 5w20 value reveals that the oil is intended to operate within the following temperature ranges: cold engine start is performed at minus 30 degrees Celsius, and the

positive temperature limit is represented by + 20 degrees Celsius.


This indicates that the product’s viscosity is low enough to decrease friction in the power unit’s components. The motor can run at its full power under these conditions.

The main disadvantage is that lengthy traffic jams cause the oil layer on the components’ surfaces to break. The thickness of the coating that develops on the working surfaces to shield components from the effects of dry friction is likewise indicated by the final digit of the SAE marking.

The “W” symbol denotes that the product is appropriate for usage in the winter. As a result, 5w20 engine oil is classified as an all-season lubricant. For gasoline and diesel engines, modifications of lubricants designated 5w20 are available, which are acceptable for both old and new goods in the automobile sector.

5w20 has several advantages.

  • Motor protection on a high level.
  • When operating with any type of unit (diesel or gasoline), efficiency is key.
  • Preserving its characteristics while it is not in use.
  • The product does not evaporate because of its unique composition.

Fuel savings are obtained while using 5w20 engine oil.

On a light-duty diesel engine, this research compares the fuel consumption benefits of a commercial 5W20 oil to higher SAE grade oils when running under motored test, stationary fired test, and the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

5W30 Motor Oil

5W205w30 is a popular motor oil for light-duty petrol and diesel engines. 5w30 is a multi-grade oil, like most modern motor oils, ranging from a lower viscosity grade of 5 to a higher viscosity grade of 30.

The “W” stands for “winter,” and the number before it denotes viscosity (or thickness) of the oil at low temperatures (thus the W), while the number following it shows viscosity at higher temperatures when the engine is operating.

5w30 oil can operate at temperatures as low as -30°C and as high as 35°C, making it an excellent choice if you drive your car in an area with significant seasonal temperature changes.

5w30 oil is ideal for automobiles that are driven in cold areas. Unlike oils with a greater hot temperature rating, such as 10 or 15, 5w30 oil can flow freely enough to coat and protect the engine’s internal components when the engine is started at low temperatures.

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It’s also an excellent option for long excursions that necessitate increased fuel usage and heat exposure.

Difference Between 5W20 and 5W30

The main difference between 5W20 and 5W30 motor oils is that the former has a thicker or less viscous consistency. Because of its thinner viscosity, 5W20 oil creates less friction when poured into the engine, resulting in reduced drag throughout the engine components such as pistons, valve trains, and crankshaft. This results in a marginal increase in fuel economy.

The oil pump can readily transfer 5W20 oil from the oil pan to the remainder of the engine because of its runnier nature.

Because of this, 5w20 is a preferable alternative for drivers in colder areas. 5w30 motor oil, on the other hand, is a good choice for hotter regions, as thinner oils tend to break down at high temps. The higher the viscosity of the motor oil, the better it will be able to withstand heat and not break down.

In this situation, 5w30 oil will outperform 5w20 in terms of total engine protection.5w30 is also one of the most frequently used types of motor oils for two major reasons: it works well with a wide range of cars with various engine types, and it also covers a large range of potential temperatures, but it is best for warmer temperatures, as mentioned above.

5W20 vs 5W30 in Winter

5W-20 oil is thinner, so it is easier for the oil pump to transfer it from the oil pan to the remainder of the engine. This makes 5W-20 an excellent choice for extremely cold conditions, where having a thinner oil that flows smoothly on startup is critical.

Because of its thin nature and capacity to reduce friction owing to its viscosity level, 5w20 oil will be the best choice in low conditions. Oil with a viscosity of 5w20 will flow more smoothly than oil with a viscosity of 5w30. It is the ideal choice in chilly conditions because of its ability to flow smoothly.

5W20 vs 5W30 in Summer

Most of the time, these sorts of oils are best for a wide variety of temperatures, with a 5W-20 oil better suited to colder regions and a 5W-30 oil more suited to warmer climes. In most cases, regardless of the ambient temperature, either one should function properly in a car engine.

When there is a lot of heat, 5w30 oil will produce a lot of resistance to heat, so it will stay longer in engines and not break down as quickly. Meanwhile, 5w20 oil would not be suitable for higher temperatures. This is due to the fact that this oil breaks down fast and has a low viscosity, making it thinner.

5W20 or 5W30 – Which is Better?

There is no such thing as better or worse in this case since it depends on a variety of things such as the oil brand, current tolerances, and so on. You must also pick depending on the engine manufacturer’s suggestions.

If the use of 5W-20 is permitted and it is appropriate for the temperature in the location where the vehicle is driven, you can fill it up to save money on gas. It is important to note, however, that this oil is not suitable for use in hot regions.

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If the car “eats up” the oil, it’s best to use 5W-30, again if the engine manufacturer recommends it. However, keep in mind that raising the oil’s viscosity will only temporarily fix the problem.

You’ll need to inspect the engine and determine what’s causing the higher consumption. In terms of winter usage, both of these oils are “winter,” meaning that they may be used in any season but are best utilized in cold and very cold conditions.

When making a decision, you should consider not only the SAE requirements but also the technological features. A basic rule of thumb is that 5w20 enhances fuel economy in the near term while increasing engine wear and tear.

5w30, on the other hand, assists the engine in maintaining high-performance functionality for a longer period of time, offering you as the driver more consistency and, ultimately, peace of mind. If you don’t want to take a chance, 5w30 is the way to go.

5W20 or 5W30


Q: What happens if you put 10W40 instead of 5w30?

A: If you use 10-w-40 instead of the manufacturer’s recommended 5-w-30, the viscosity of the 10-w-40 you use will be greater and the oil thicker than what is recommended throughout the winter. Similarly, during the summer, the viscosity of the oil will be greater, and the oil will be thicker than indicated.

Q: Will thicker oil damage my engine?

A: Yes, and not only that but pouring the heavier motor oil wastes energy, lowering fuel economy. Because heavier oils don’t transmit heat as efficiently as thinner oils, operating temperatures will rise, potentially causing chemical breakdown and the formation of hazardous sludge and deposits.

Q: What happens if I mix 5w20 and 5w30?

A: It is perfectly safe to combine 5W30 with 5W20. You are not causing any harm or potential damage to the engine’s essential components by filling up your 5W30 engine with 5W20 oil or vice versa. Yes, the oils may include various additives, resulting in a weight rating variation.

Q: How long does 5W-30 oil last?

A: For warranty reasons, the best response is whatever the car manufacturer specifies as the change interval. Full synthetic oil has a physical lifespan of 7,500 to 10,000 miles, depending on driving circumstances.

Q: Is 5w30 good for high mileage?

A: For high-mileage cars, 5W30 is the ideal choice. Only use this oil on cars with more than 75,000 miles on them. This motor oil has been designed with extended drain intervals in mind. It prevents rust and corrosion by preventing a build-up on drain intervals. Furthermore, high-mileage 5W-30 motor oil is designed for late-model or newer cars with more than 75,000 miles/120,000 kilometers on the clock.

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