5W30 vs. 10W30: What’s The Difference

If you know nothing about engine oils, then you have come to the right place. Seeing the numbers on a bottle of oil and not knowing what it means can be confusing at first. Well, we’re here to explain to the number their importance.

There are many engine oils out there, and with a lot of choices and information, you may overwhelm yourself and get the wrong idea of engine oils.

Engine oils are necessary if you wish to take better care of your engine and prolong its life. It gives enough lubrication around the car’s engine.

Most car manufacturers recommend car engine oils because they know that their engine is suited for the engine oil with specific viscosity.

Their viscosity level characterizes engine oils because it determines how thick/thin the oil can be when exposed to different temperatures. Other than simply lubricating your car engine, these oils also help:

  • Reduce Friction between Parts

Depending on the thickness of the oil and its SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Viscosity Grade, your motor oil will reach the engines after you start the engine.

Reducing friction is essential because it helps the engine to maintain high power output while maintaining fuel efficiency.

  • Reduce Wear

Similar to reducing friction, it reduces wear because it also serves as a lubricant to your engine and the parts around it.

This means even if the metal parts were to have contact, the wear is significantly reduced because of the motor oil.

  • Remove Deposits and Contaminants

It’s essential to change the oil regularly because dirt can pile up and create deposits. Sure, the oil can remove some dirt, but it can be bad for your engine if it reaches maximum capacity.

Motor oil helps remove deposits and contaminants from crucial parts of the engine if it reaches maximum capacity, making the engine perform at its best even if there’s a speck of dirt.

What are Multi-Grade Oils?

Cars and other motors have many engine parts moving around them, subjected to a lot of friction.

Friction can degrade the engine’s performance quicker, and that’s not good for long-term use. It can even slow down the power output the machine is supposed to have.

That’s why engine oils are essential because it reduces friction between moving parts in an engine.

Internal combustion engines are the type of engines that usually function by burning fuel within the engine body.

The internal combustion engine will be subjected to at least 100 degrees Celsius, and the engine oils will have a change in viscosity, depending on the engine oil code that you will use.

What are Multi-Grade Oils


Have you ever wondered what the numbers and letters mean in multi-grade oils? There’s a great reason and definition you see on oil bottles.

Blue Circle – Viscosity for lower temperatures

Red Circle – “W” for winter

Green Circle – Viscosity for high temperatures

Multi-grade oils contain two viscosity grades. One grade is for the viscosity at cold temperatures denoted with “W” (W for winter) and another for the viscosity at higher temperatures.

There’s a great reason why multi-grade oils are preferred for engine usage.

For example, you need to have thinner engine oils to reach the engine when starting a car, so it starts up ready and lubricates. However, having a thicker oil will take a longer time to lubricate the engine at low temperatures.

That’s where your choice of engine oils comes in. You need to know the viscosity your engine needs to pick the suitable oils for your motors.

It also has a secondary use of direct heat removal. Although it’s not entirely responsible for this one task, it does remove heat build-up that can happen over hours and hours of using the engine at high temperatures.

5W30 and Its Specifications

5W30 vs. 10W30

5W-30 is a multi-grade viscosity that is usually used for automobile purposes. Although it has a standard grade, the oil has different thickness/viscosity according to the engine oil brand.

It has a viscosity grade of 5 which means it’s thinner when it’s at cool temperatures (it has more delicate oil when it’s not in use or before you start a car), and it has a viscosity grade of 30 when it is exposed to high temperatures.

SAE runs its tests by exposing this multi-grade oil to one hundred degrees celsius to measure the viscosity grade of these engine oils.

Benefits of 5W30 Oil

The main benefit of using the 5W30 oil is if you live in cold temperatures. You see, it’s easier and healthier for your engine if you used the 5W30 multi-grade oil.

Why? It’s because it has a lower viscosity grade for colder temperatures. This would work well for people living in the European regions with different weathers every season compared to countries near the equator.

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The multi-grade oil is thinner at cold temperatures. Hence, it can get to the engine parts quicker, providing adequate lubrication to your engine for long periods.

Overall, your climate is the determining factor in choosing this oil. You can have thinner oil in your engine and lubricate the entire machine for long periods.

10W30 and Its Specifications

10W30 and Its Specifications

Unlike the 5W30 Oil, it has a viscosity grade of 10 in lower temperatures. It doesn’t lubricate the entire engine immediately, but it works fine if you live in high-temperature areas.

The 10W30 oil is a multi-graded oil that’s ideal for heavy-load engines that can withstand sweltering temperatures for long periods without compromising the performance of the machines.

Its viscosity grade has better oil sludge control, which means that the oil doesn’t become a gel/sludge at very high temperatures.

It reduces the wear and tear of the engine during the start/stop operation while keeping it cool.

Benefits of 10W30 Oil

10W30 has different unique features and benefits to the engines we use today. Since it’s also a multi-grade oil, compared to the 5W30 crude, it has a higher viscosity grade in low temperatures.

Similar to other multi-grade oils, you should also choose this according to the climate of the place you live in. If you live in cold regions, then this 10W30 oil might be the best bet for you.

However, if you live in regions with hot climates, then the oil will be a better fit in your area because it has a low viscosity grade in your typical daily temperature.

Overall, the climate doesn’t affect the viscosity too much compared to 5W30 because their grade is not too far apart. It may be better for heavy-duty and large engines like tractor engines or anything similar because of the thickness of the oil.

What is Viscosity

Viscosity is making all the differences between 5W30 and 10W30 multi-grade oils. The oil’s viscosity changes when exposed to different temperatures.

What is Viscosity? It’s the density of a liquid at a given temperature. It can be thick or thin, depending on the substances that are in the liquid.

According to Machinery Lubrication, A lubricating oil’s viscosity is typically measured and defined in two ways, either based on its kinematic viscosity or its absolute (dynamic) viscosity.

what is viscosity

It’s essential to know the two types of viscosity, especially in engine oils, because it can also be a determining factor that will increase the life expectancy of your vehicle.

While the description of Kinematic Viscosity and Absolute Viscosity may sound the same, there are no vast differences between the two.

  1. Kinematic Viscosity

Kinematic viscosity talks about the resistance of the oil to flow and shear to due gravity. It’s comparing which is thicker or not.

Experiment, fill a test tube with gear oil and another test tube with turbine oil. Now create the statement of the problem and make a hypothesis. Which one will flow faster from the test tube if it’s flipped on one side?

Because of the turbine oil’s kinematic viscosity, it will flow faster because the flow rates of the experiment depend on the oils’ kinematic viscosity.

  1. Absolute Viscosity

Unlike the kinematic viscosity, the flow resistance is not determined by gravity. It’s determined by internal friction.

Do another experiment, insert a metal rod in the test tubes and still the oils at the same rate, now you may notice a difference in force but try your best to match the same rate the oils are being stirred at.

Now compare both oils and the force amount required to stir it.

You can say that the gear oil required more force to stir it, but the correct way is that the gear oil has a higher absolute viscosity than the turbine oil because its resistance is measured through internal friction.

You can watch the Fluid Dynamics (4 of 25) Viscosity & Fluid Flow: Viscosity (Dynamic vs. Kinematic) video to have an in-depth explanation of the differences between Kinematic and Absolute viscosity.

Dedicated Quality Oil

Engine oils are what reduces the internal damages of engines by reducing friction. Choosing the suitable viscosity grade better suited for your machine will prolong the engine life and maintain engine performance.

Different oil brands have different viscosity grades for specific engines; that’s why car companies recommend some oil brands that are appropriate for your machine.

While ensuring that you have the proper oil viscosity for your oil engine, we now have to discuss what a dedicated high-quality oil can offer you.

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Fuel Economy

Choosing the correct viscosity of engine oil will significantly improve the fuel economy of your engine. Depending on the weather of your area and the viscosity, your engine will use fuel efficiently.

Outstanding Engine Protection

Since the goals of these engine oils are to reduce friction and reduce the wear and tear of the engine, finding the right viscosity is crucial.

Usually, you want the engine oil to have a high viscosity if exposed to very high temperatures.

5W30 vs. 10W30 What are its Differences

5W30 vs. 10W30

The engine is the heart of your machine/vehicle. Taking care of its heart requires you to change its oil now and then.

From reducing friction, adding lubrication to remove contaminants, engine oils are the reasons why these engines have a prolonged life span.

Now you have entered the main gist of the article. There are many things you have to consider before choosing one or the other.

For example, does your car company recommend this brand of engine oils? What climate do you live on? What’s the engine oil used for?

Both oils are called multi-grade oils. This means the oils have different viscosity grades at specific temperatures.

Evidently, the number “5” in 5W30 means a viscosity grade of 5 during cold conditions, “W” also means winter.

The number “30” is the viscosity grade according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) after doing tests with the viscometer exposing the oil in 100 degrees Celsius.

Here are some of the differences between 5W30 and 10W30:

Oil Flow

Since both 5W30 and 10W30 are multi-grade oils, the SAE has tested them in different temperatures.

This is where your climate comes in. If you live in cold areas, using 10W30 will give you a slower startup than 5W30.

The 5W30 oil is better suited for cold temperatures, especially for places that have -30 degrees Celsius. The 5W30 will have no problems in a startup since it’s less dense than the 10W30 and has thinner oil during startup.

The difference in flow comes when it’s exposed to different temperatures. Comparing both oils in cold temperatures will show how much thicker the 10W30 is.

Overall, suppose you live in colder climates that may expose your vehicle/machine to more or less -30 degrees Celsius. In that case, we recommend the 5W30 over the 10W30 because of the difference in its resistance to flow.

Performance 5W30 vs. 10W30

Multi-grade oils also have a separate viscosity rating, and that is its operating temperatures which more or less can reach 80-120 degrees Celsius.

Since both oils have different starting temperatures, now we have to compare their operating temperatures.

Although they have the same operating temperatures, it takes to heat these oils a significant difference.

Since the 5W30 oil works better in cold temperatures, it can lubricate the engine effectively because it has a lower viscosity rating suited for cold temperatures.

5W30 is more effective because of its low viscosity because its smaller temperature window can provide enough engine lubrication.

Ideal Usage of these Oils

Location and climate is the determining factor on choosing these oils. For example, you are better off using the 5W30 oils in cold temperatures.

Even though multi-grade oils are made to work in both cold and hot weather conditions, the 5W30 will be thin enough to get to all of your components, especially for locations that have extremely low temperatures.

On the contrary, if you live in extremely hot locations (like countries near the equator), you are better suited to use the 10W30 oils because they can flow effectively in your components while adequately lubricating the parts.

Using the Wrong Oil and its Consequences

What could happen if I use the wrong oil, my car will still work fine, right? It depends. The motor oils you choose for your machine/vehicle can significantly decrease your engine’s life expectancy and durability.

Not only can it reduce the life span of your engine, but it also degrades its performance over long periods if you use the wrong oil.

Protecting the engine is the oil’s job. Using the wrong one comes with its consequences. That’s why we’re here to know what using the oil can do and its consequences:

  1. Longer Car Startups

If you used the wrong oil and the wrong viscosity, then you’re running the risk of having a longer car startup or the car not even starting at all.

Now you may ask yourself, why is won’t it start? There are two possibilities, choosing the wrong viscosity will take more time for the oil to lubricate the engine because of its high viscosity rating.

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The flow of the oil is not suited for your location and engine needs. That’s why changing oil may be necessary if the car fails to start up.

  1. Burning Smell

Just as how high viscosity oils are harmful to cold climates, low viscosity oils also tend to burn up in places with extremely high temperatures.

Because the oil is already thinner because of its absolute viscosity, adding up more heat to the operating temperature will make the oil thinner than it is, causing excess friction, hence, creating that burning smell in your engine.

This is not good because it can cause long-term damage to your engine, costing you a lot of money to fix.

  1. Low Efficiency and Performance

Because your engine is not lubricated adequately with the proper viscosity oil, your car’s efficiency will significantly reduce.

Low efficiency is also relative to its performance, and if it’s not efficiently performing as it should be, then its performance is also affected.

Incredible amounts of contaminants, wrong viscosity for your location, and inadequate lubrication are few ways that can affect the engine’s performance.

Frequently Asked Questions about Motor Oils

What will happen if I mix motor oil brands?

As long as the viscosity grade of the oil is similar to each other, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, and your car will startup.

However, you have to consider that not all oil brands are not made the same. This means that even if they have the same viscosity rating, one brand may be thinner/thicker than the other.

This is a disadvantage because your oil will not be in a similar viscosity grade, which means the oil’s thickness or viscosity will not be constant anymore. After all, two brands are mixed with it.

What happens if I add thicker oil to thinner oil?

First off, if you live in cold temperatures, then adding thicker oil to thinner oil is a huge mistake. Thin oils enable the engine to start up with little to no problem because the flow of the oil is better in cold temperatures.

If you live in these cold temperatures, your car might not be able to startup that easily. You should also consider the effects it will do on your engine.

Regardless if they’re made from the same brand or not, you should avoid mixing thick oil with thinner oil because it will give uneven lubrication to components.

You want all the parts to be lubricated equally, and by mixing thin and thick oils, you cannot do that. Some parts are lubricated with viscous oil, some with thinner oil which isn’t healthy for your engine’s durability.

How often should I change the oil?

There are many different cars around the world and different car manufacturers. For starters, regularly check your oil pan.

Usually, you can see the integrity of the oil. Since the oil lubricates and reduces friction in the engine, it also can gather some contaminants that can be harmful to the engine.

If you see that the oil cannot hold more contaminants or is dirty and can’t circulate through the components, then it’s an excellent sign letting you know to change the oil.

However, if you’re still unsure, you can check out this YouTube video, Oil changes: How often do you need them? To know more about how often you should change the oil.

Why is climate an essential factor in choosing oil?

What many people take for granted may be the most significant factor in choosing oil. Location is essential when selecting oil because it determines what viscosity grade of oil you need.

Some of us may live in European regions where you can wake up in freezing weather, and others may live near the equator where they only have two seasons, rainy and sunny weather.

Climate is important because multi-grade oils (prevalent in today’s society) react differently to different temperatures.

This means if the oil you choose is more viscous (thick) during cold weather, your car is either not going to start or take a longer time to start because the engine isn’t lubricated yet because of the oil’s viscosity.

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