What is the difference between 5w20 and 5w30?

Oil is one of the most important parts of your vehicle. The major function of engine oil is to properly lubricate metal parts so they can’t rub and generate friction. Lubrication also plays a big role in cooling the engine’s rotating parts. In addition, the oil also helps to seal the gaps between the cylinder and piston. It also protects engine components from acidic sludge, water, and other elements that may lead to rust and corrosion. 5w20 and 5w30 are the two most commonly used types of motor oil in cars. This article mainly describes the difference between 5w20 and 5w30.

5w20 vs 5w30

What is 5w20?

5w20 is one of the most common types of engine oil, ideal for cold climates. In simple words, 5w20 properly lubricates the engine like a 20-weight oil.

The number “20” after the “W” indicates 20-weight oil in hotter temperatures, and the number “5” before the “W” indicates the viscosity grade (W) of the oil in winter.

Being leaner, 5w20 performs better in cold and freezing temperatures because it has less friction and resistance as it flows into the deeper parts of the engine. The higher the number, the higher the viscosity, so 5w20 moves more smoothly than 5w30.

To start an engine in cold weather, it needs a thin oil that can lubricate the engine components rapidly. You should use the 5w20 in cold weather to get the best performance for your engine because this oil has a low viscosity. But once the engine has reached normal operating temperature, 5w20 starts to lose its viscosity needed to prevent engine components for a long time. Therefore, in a hot climate, 5w30 is preferred instead of 5w20.

At 100 degrees Celsius, 5w20 has a viscosity of 8.9, and 5w30 has a viscosity of 11.0. At 40 degrees Celsius, 5w20 is rated at 49.8 and 5w30 at 61.7.

What is 5w30?

5W30 oils are designed for both cold temperature and warm temperature climates. It offers a proper engine start in cold temperatures but also provides excellent protection in hot climates.

Compared to 5w20, 5w30 is considered the ideal oil for warmer temperatures. This engine oil has a higher viscosity than 5w20. When it flows through the engine parts, it faces a lot of friction and drag forces. Therefore, it takes longer to lubricate components in cold weather.

The engines that contain 5w30 may experience a delayed start in a cold climate. High-viscosity oils are not recommended in low-temperature areas because they do not flow easily and quickly to all parts of the engine. This worsens fuel consumption.

5w30 is the recommended type of engine oil once the engine has warmed up to normal operating temperature or when the vehicle is operating in a warmer environment. This is due to its higher viscosity which provides overall protection and improves the efficiency of engine components.

The term XwY in 5w30 has the same meaning as in 5w20. The number “5” before the “W” stands for the winter viscosity grade and the number “30” after the “W” indicates 30-weight oil in hotter temperatures. The higher the number, the higher the viscosity, so 5w30 has more viscosity than 5w20.

Difference Between 5w20 and 5w30 Oil

The main differences between 5W-20 and 5W-30 motor oils are given below:

5W-20 Motor Oil5W-30 Motor Oil
5W20 oil is a less viscous oil5W30 oil is a higher viscous oil
It has better fuel economy due to lower viscosity.It doesn’t have fuel economy as good as 5W-20
The viscosity grade (W) of this oil is 20W at high temperaturesThe viscosity grade (W) of this oil is 30W at high temperatures
5W-20 has 5W viscosity at low temperatures5W-30 has 5W viscosity at low temperatures
It is ideal for vehicles that have small to medium-sized enginesIt is ideal for older vehicles that have larger engines.
This oil offers slightly less protection due to lower viscosityIt offers slightly better protection due to higher viscosity
It makes the engine to start quickly in cold environmentIt makes the engine to start quickly in a hot environment
5W-30 oil is ideal for moderate to hot climates (depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations)5W-30 oil is ideal for moderate to hot climates (depending on manufacturer’s recommendations)

A Quick Summary of 5w20 VS 5w30

  • 5w20 is an oil characterized by its winter rating of 5 and an oil weight of 20 in warm weather. 5w30 has a similar viscosity grade 5 in col temperature, but it is thicker at higher temperatures because the weight of the oil is 30.
  • The main difference between 5w20 and 5w30 is their viscosity. The 5w30 has higher viscosity or thickness than the 5w20 motor oil.
  • 5W20 oils provide better fuel economy than 5W30.
  • 5w20 is ideal for cold weather. However, 5w30 is considered ideal in hot weather.
  • 5w20 flows rapidly and smoothly to deeper parts of the engine with less friction for quick engine starts. The 5w30 can’t flow more quickly than the 5w20 because it is thicker than the 5w20. Therefore, 5w30 improves the overall protection of engine parts at the normal working temperature.
  • 5w20 is ideal for cold climates; it has a lower viscosity and less friction on engine components resulting in faster engine starts. 5w30 is ideal for hot climates where a high-viscosity oil is required to bear extreme temperatures.
  • In cold weather, 5w20 is associated with better fuel efficiency and performance, and 5w30 is associated with the improved overall safety of engine parts.

FAQ Section

What is the difference between 5w20 and 5w30?

The main difference between 5w20 and 5w30 is their viscosity. 5w20 is a thinner oil that is ideal for the latest, high-performance engines, while 5w30 is a thicker oil that is ideal for older engines.

What is Oil Viscosity?

The viscosity of an oil is calculated by its resistance to flow when utilized at specific temperatures. You can easily power the low-viscosity oil at a low temperature, while higher-viscosity oil is hard to pour at a low temperature.

Winter oils such as 5w20 generally have low viscosity because such oil reduces friction in the engine parts and makes it easier to start in cold weather. However, hot weather oils generally have high viscosity to offer better strength and film sealing at a higher temperature.

Which viscosity Oil is best?

Using the oil recommended in your owner’s manual is the ideal method to improve your engine efficiency and maximize fuel economy.

Different manufacturer’s manuals list different motor oils. So, the difference between 5W20, 5W30, and 10W30 is the temperature at which they operate efficiently, so the answer varies according to your living area and the weather condition. As with most cars made in the last 20 years, if your vehicle’s manual recommends a certain weight, follow it.

What happens if I use 5W30 instead of 5W20 oil?

If your engine allows, you can use 5W30 oil instead of 5W20. The surest method to ensure this is to read your vehicle’s manual.

Otherwise, pouring the wrong oil into your engine may be risky for your engine and may reduce your engine performance. This is because exposing the engine to slightly thicker oil than before causes more friction.

The increased friction of high-viscosity oils may slow the movement of the internal engine parts and lead to various issues, such as sludge build-up, engine deposits, and oil leaks.

In addition, using the wrong oil in a new engine can void your warranty and put your engine at risk of ultimate damage.

What do oil numbers mean?

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) classifies engine oils by the viscosity grade of the oil. For this, a digital system is used. Lower numbers correspond to thinner oils that flow more easily at lower temperatures, while higher numbers link to thicker oils that maintain their characteristics at a higher temperature.

Maximum vehicle oils are classified into one of five viscosity grades: 0, 5, 10, 20, or 30. The first number in the oil grade represents low viscosity (cold start temperature).

The second number specifies its viscosity at high temperatures (hot work). For example, 5W20 oil is a good winter oil because it flows easily at low temperatures and remains a lubricant at high temperatures.

What Is 5w20 Oil Used For?

5w20 engine oil is a type of engine oil typically used in small engine vehicles. This oil is thinner than other oils, making it easier to start the engine in cold weather. 5w20 oil is also designed to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.

What is 5w30 oil used for?

5w30 oils are often used in high-performance engines as they provide excellent wear protection. This oil is also very viscous, allowing it to withstand high temperatures. Also, 5w30 oil helps improve fuel economy.

What happens if I use the wrong Oil in your Car?

If you use the wrong oil in your car, it can cause a decrease in lubrication and lead to a shorter engine lifespan. Using the wrong engine may lead to different issues such as poor engine performance, poor fuel economy, increased engine wear, or engine damage. Therefore, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation in the owner’s manual, especially when it comes to the use of synthetic oil.

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