Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20

Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20: Oil Viscosity

The main purpose of motor oil in the engine is to grease the metal parts so they do not rub together, form friction, and depreciate. That’s regardless if you’re wondering about can you use 10w30 instead of 5w20. In addition, lubrication maintains a certain level of coolness in the engine. It seals the gaps between the cylinder and piston while protecting and coating engine components from sludge water, acid, and other rust and corrosion-creating elements.

Lastly, motor oil cleans silicon oxide and acids from engine parts. Oil viscosity is a big part of the entire motor oil discussion. Can you use 10w30 instead of 5w20? Has that question run through your mind sometimes? This is the place to get those answers. Read on to know more about oil viscosity and what 10w50 or 5w20 even stands for.

Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20: Oil Viscosity Explained

“Viscosity” is a term used to explain the thickness of an oil and its aversion to flow. A higher oil viscosity number means the oil is thicker. Older engines were designed with looser tolerances, allowing oils such as 10w30 to be commonly used as an OE recommended oil before and during the ‘90s.

Modern-day engines are being made with better technology, equipped with higher tolerances. This also means that a thinner oil is needed to correctly lubricate the bearings of the engine, and circulate freer and quicker throughout the engine. Although not always applicable, using thinner oil will also give you the privilege of using lesser oil in the vehicle.

A thinner oil gets to the engine components quicker and moves around faster whereas a thicker oil will generally adhere easier to the engine parts. However, the latter also offers better greasing when engine tolerance has gone down, or in heavy-duty applications like off-road or racing engines.

Viscosity decides how an engine’s oil deals with the changes in pressure, temperature, and speed. Another super important factor is that one must stick to the oil viscosity recommended by the manufacturer.

What Do Numbers Denote In Oil Viscosity?

The 5 and 10 digits signify the viscosity of the oil at lower temperatures. So, this means that when you are asking can you use 10w30 instead of 5w20, the thinner 5w20 will circulate faster, and move better across bearing tolerance during ignition in the winter or cooler climates.

The “w” preceding the 5 and 10 stands for the viscosities of those oils in winter or colder temperatures. The winter number viscosity is tested at 0° Fahrenheit. In contrast, the 30 stands for the viscosity at higher temperatures. The oil is thicker at elevated temperatures, so it sticks to the metal components of the engine, safeguarding them as they operate. Instead of 0°, this number is tested at 212° Fahrenheit.

Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SE) determines the viscosity number i.e., how fast the oil will move through a particular size of the tube.

If comparing 5w30 vs. 5w20, the 20 indicates an oil with a lower viscosity that is thinner at higher temperatures. Thanks to this, the oil can reach engine parts easier and quicker. Thus, due to viscosity, 5w30 is a thicker oil in operating temperatures, whereas 5w20 is thinner during that phase.

A vast majority of automobile manufacturers are now making engines that function on 5w20 oil, making it more important than ever to adhere to the set viscosity and not use 5w30 instead.

Why Do Some Oils Come With Only One Number?

Traditionally, oils were only made in one grade, like SAE 30. During that time, oils needed to be changed seasonally with a higher viscosity oil being chosen for summer and a lower one in the winter. Afterward, thickening agents were formulated and multi-grade oils popularized.

Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20: What Is 10w30?

A multi-grade engine oil, 10w30 is perfect for heavy-duty engines because of its resistance to high temperatures for an extended period without compromising on the engine’s performance. This engine oil features a viscosity grade of 30 in high temperatures and 10 in low temperatures. At low temperatures, the engine oil maintains a low viscosity, meaning it is thin when the environment is cooler.

Major Specifications Of 10w30

A few things you need to keep an eye out for in the 10w30 motor oils would be API SN, ACEA rating, and its grade of viscosity. A motor oil of this kind checks all of the boxes of the API SN. API SN is one of the engine categories started by the American Petroleum Institute. The requirement says that the engine has to protect the piston from any deposit possible of causing combustion.

The oil also has improved sludge control i.e. the motor oil will not form any unwanted gels or sludge at high temperatures. 10w30 motor oils are also compatible with seal and after treatment.

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, 10w30 motor oil must have an ACEA A3/B3 or A3/B4 rating. The association assigns oil sequences for different specifications of engine oils.

Advantages Of 10w30

10w30 has a bunch of unique benefits and features. This engine oil creates a continuous layer all over the different parts of the engine to reduce friction between them. It decreases the wear and tear of the engine in-between stop/start operation while maintaining desired temperatures in the engine.

10w30 also protects sections of the engine from corrosion while increasing the lifespan of the engine. It offers the user a smooth and noiseless gear and clutch operation at all times. This engine oil effortlessly maintains its viscosities under high temperatures.

It is ideal for engines running on advanced fuels like biodiesel and biofuel. Although 10w30 can be used for cold climates, it is best for hot weather.

Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20: What Is 5w20?

5w20 is a multi-grade viscose oil used in automobiles. At low temperatures, this engine oil features a 5 viscosity grade. On the other hand, in high temperatures, the grade jumps to 30.

Major Specifications Of 5w20

Similar to 10w30, 5w20 meets all the specifications of ACEA and API SN, which vary depending on the brand of oil. It is also approved by MB – Mercedes Benz’s requirements which allocate a particular grade to the motor oil. The grade of the oil will highly depend on your choice of brand. 5w20 also has the VW (Volkswagen) approval, as well as Ford and Porsche, respectively.

Advantages Of 5w30

5w20 has a distinct set of features that make the oil stand out from the others. Just like its competition in this case (10w30), this engine oil creates a continuous layer over the parts of the engine to decrease friction between them. Moreover, it reduces the wear and tear of the engine alongside protecting it from rusting.

Furthermore, 5w20 oil can also increase the service life of the engine. It has a much better thermal stability which allows its properties to remain the same despite a temperature variation. Motor oil is made in a way that maximizes fuel economy. Only a bit of engine oil is required to grease the engine.

Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20
5w20 motor oil is ideal for automotive gasoline engines, light-duty diesel engines, and light-duty petrol engines. Since it gives a good flow during lower temperatures, it’s a great choice for cold climates.

What Is The Difference Between 10w30 And 5w20?

When asking can use 10w30 instead of 5w20, we have to know about the differences between the two to determine the possible changes if the oils are switched. Both 10w30 and 5w20 engine oils are similar. However, the difference factor is created by their viscosity. Both multi-grade motor oils work just fine in both high and low temperatures. Below is a comparative discussion about the variations between the two engine oils:

1. Difference In Meaning

The “W” in both 10w30 and 5w20 stands for winter. Owing to the lower viscosity of the oils at low temperatures, they have a higher resistance to flow. However, 5w20 is much thinner in comparison. It will, therefore, provide better protection for the interior parts of the engines quicker than the 10w30.

2. Performance

10w30 and 5w20 engine oils have similar SAE ratings, which means that they will perform similarly at operating or high temperatures. The number 30 indicates the viscosity of the oil at high temperatures, as stated before. 10w30 tends to get thicker in cold weather which makes 5w20 better suited for these environments.

3. Ideal Use

Before you choose an engine oil, make sure to check the location in which the vehicle will be used. Although both the engine oils in question are multi-grade, 5w20 thins enough when being used in an area with rather low temperatures. As a result, it performs better in the winter than 10w30. On the other hand, 10w30 flows effectively in higher temperatures or hot summers.

4. Lubrication

In terms of lubrication, 5w20 is better than 10w30. It is perfect for light-duty petrol and diesel engines as well as private vehicles, while 10w30 works best for cars that bear heavy loads and commercial vehicles.

Can You Mix 10w30 And 5w20?

Usually, when you mix 2 oils of different viscosity or weights, it might not cause any problem for the engine as both oils will lubricate the engine as they were meant to. However, it’s a myth that mixing oils improves the engine performance of a vehicle.

This is because the oils’ additives are there for numerous reasons. The incompatibility of these enhancers would prevent the engine from getting the full benefits of the mixed oil as opposed to pure, untampered oils.

Regarding 10w30 and 5w20, the effect of combining these oils will be determined by your vehicle. Which of them was your vehicle made to operate with? Notwithstanding the recommendations of the car manufacturer, mixing 10w30 and 5w20 will not cause any sort of harm to the engine. However, a few drivers claim that it is safer to combine two multi-grade or straight weight oils, rather than mixing multi-grade with straight weight oils.

5w20 flows easier in low/cold temperatures to keep parts of the engine lubricated at all times. Compared to that, 10w30 flows in low/cold temperatures, but the speed of the flow will be lower than that of 5w20.

There are various kinds of motor oils but 10w30 and 5w20 happen to be the most popular options in today’s market. When you add 5w20 to a vehicle that has already been running on 10w30, no significant problems can be expected to pop up.

Winter seasons would mean the 5w20 in the engine will be keeping it running smoothly, given its low viscosity grade. On an important note, it is not quite possible to mix or blend oils without a long, rigorous process.

Mixing 10w30 With 5w20

What happens is that, when you mix 10w30 with 5w20 and pour that into an engine, the oils will stay separate without blending. So, you are simply going to have some quarts of 5w20 and 10w30 each. There will not be a single oil formed as you would expect. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with using 2 different oils for an engine. You should, however, know that the time between oil changes will be reduced as a result of the mix.

If the engine is meant to be run on lighter oils, pouring thicker oils into it may lead to a rise in fuel consumption. Why? Because the engine is more likely to use more energy to utilize the thicker oil; thus, reducing fuel efficiency.

Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20?

Of course, the selection of oil greatly affects the performance of any engine. Selected engine parts are made to function well with a particular type of oil. So, this is the answer to “Can you use 10w30 instead of 5w20?”

1. Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20: External Temperature

The lower the number before the “W” in these oils, the thinner the viscosity of the oil. Thinner oils are easier to light even at temperatures under the negatives. Thus, if you reside in a below-zero climate, go for 5w20 oils. Likewise, 10w30 oil will take hours to combust in winters. So, keep in mind the weather when choosing which oil you should get for your vehicle.

2. Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20: Effect On Engine Parts

Parts like the main bearing and rod help to put up with pressure on the rotating shaft. These components generally do fine with thicker oil since it leads to a tougher film. 5w20, the thinner oil, will be unable to support the weight of the components and wear out eventually. Parts like the cooling nozzles, on the other hand, run optimally with thinner oils.

When you put thicker oil on the nozzles, they will experience a reduced flow. We highly suggest using effective maintenance tips in these situations or simply getting in touch with a mechanic nearby.

3. Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20: Fuel Economy & Engine

When you substitute 10w30 for 5w20, perhaps, a handful of changes are noticeable, especially when the engine is old and about to wear out. Furthermore, one of the advantages of thinner oil is its ability to combust quickly. Therefore, the engine does not have to put in much effort to pump the fuel, which decreases the fuel economy. Conversely, the lifespan of an engine might reduce as a result of uneven oil circulation in the piston region.

Which Viscosity Is Superior?

Using the engine oil recommended by the manufacturers in the owner’s manual is the ideal way to shield the engine from undesirable issues, have it function efficiently, and derive good mileage. It is noteworthy that many owner manuals suggest a range of oils. So, the answer will largely depend on where you reside and what the climate is. If the manual suggests a certain weight (most cars made in the past two decades will), abide by it.

Final Words

Thicker and heavier, 10w30 protects older engines with its great healing properties. Multi-grade oil 5w20 is thinner in comparison and best for quick ignitions in lower temperatures. To maintain the perfect condition, your vehicle should only receive specified motor oils from the manufacturers.

So, next time you wonder, can you use 10w instead of 5w20 without repercussions, you have the correct answer!


1. Is 10w30 Thicker Than 5w30?

Because of its higher viscosity in lower temperatures, 10w30 is indeed thicker than 5w30. The motor oil will move slower than its competitor during the cold season. Higher or thicker viscosity metal oils have an improved seal in comparison to low viscosity oils. They offer better lubing of the engine and motor parts.

2. Can I Use Thicker Oil In An Older Engine?

Yes, it’s best to use thick engine oils for old motors and engines. They are designed to improve the oil pressure in these engines. When the engine ages, their clearances extend; therefore, needing less engine oil for better protection.

3. Which Is Better, 5w30, Or 10w30?

Both 5w30 and 10w30 are superb engine oils. For the best performance, it is essential to understand how both of them work in a specific ambiance. 5w30 is perfect for every season and gives maximum protection in the winter and summer alike. This oil also offers a decent fuel efficiency level to users as it produces minimal drag on moving components and bearings of the engine.

Older engines in particular love 10w30 oils as the thickness also provides an additional seal.

4. Can I Put 10w30 In A 10w40 Engine?

Mixing 10w40 with 10w30 should be fine as long as you do not do that in freezing temperatures. Even if the conventional and synthetic oils are blended, they will not do any harm to your vehicle. Do we recommend it though? Not really.

5. Can I Use 10w40 Instead Of 5w20?

If the vehicle is used in exceptionally cold temperatures, well under 32-degrees, go ahead and use 5w30. That doesn’t mean that you cannot use 10w40 at all. It is perfectly fine to use if outdoor temperatures are under the freezing point (for more details, head over to our explainer on does oil freeze).

6. Can I Put In New Oil In With Old Oil?

You can add new oil to old oil – it is perfectly fine to do so. This is an accepted practice used to maintain correct levels of oil between the change services. Usually, modern cars functioning completely on synthetic oil require oil changes every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. For older cars, the duration may be as short as 3,000 miles.

7. Can I Change The Oil Without Changing The Oil Filter?

The short answer: yes. But keep in mind that an old oil filter will not effectively discard pollutants from the engine oil. Therefore, it can negatively affect performance. Check out this complete video tutorial on how to change engine oil.

8. Will Thicker Oil Damage My Vehicle’s Engine?

As thick oils do not transfer heat that efficiently, operating temperatures increase, perhaps even leading to faster breakdown of chemicals and harmful sludge deposits. Not only that, but the motor will waste more energy pumping the more viscose, thicker motor oil, decreasing fuel efficiency.

9. Can I Switch From 5w20 To 10w30?

The only notable difference between the two is the cold flowability: a 5w20 motor oil will move faster than a 10w30 oil in cold temperatures. You should try to use the recommended oil weight provided by the manufacturers to get the best performance from your car.

10. What Happens If I Use the Incorrect Oil?

The motor oil brand matters little. However, the grade of viscosity (for example 10w30) is still important. Use specifically the oil the owner manual tells you to use. Using the incorrect oil can shorten the engine life by reducing lubrication. If the manual suggests synthetic oil, trust it.

11. Is 10w30 Better For High Mileage?

At normal operating temperature, 10w30 is the same engine oil as 5w30. Simply changing cold viscosity will not do much for you. Try a high mileage oil if you would like and see if that does any better. High mileage oils feature seal conditioners.

12. Can Synthetic Oil Be Combined With Regular Oil?

Yes, it can. There is no known danger in mixing conventional and synthetic engine oil. That being said, regular oil will take away from the superior performance of the average synthetic oil and will cut off its benefits. If you still want to mix synthetic oil with a regular one after this, go ahead.

Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of 5w20 Essential Knowledge

  1. Car manufacturers provide oil specifications for each model and there is a reason for it.
  2. Motor oil is categorized according to its viscosity.
  3. 10w30 and 5w20 are the most common oil types.
  4. Thinner oil is easier to ignite even at temperatures below zero.
  5. 5w20 is suitable for temperatures below zero because it ignites quickly.
  6. 10w30 is thicker and protects older engines with its sealing capability.
  7. 5w20 is thinner and is pertinent for quick starts in the lowest temperatures.
  8. Thicker oil leads to a stronger film, which is suitable for parts like rod and main bearings that help to put up with a load on a rotating shaft.
  9. Thinner oil is preferable for parts like cooling nozzles.
  10. Using only specified engine oil by the manufacturer is beneficial for protecting the car from internal damages.

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