Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20? (+ Key Differences)

Can I use 5w30 instead of 5w20? While this is a simple question, it has a complex answer.

The short answer is no, but you may wonder why? Generally, older engines make use of the 5w30 oil.

However, for the recent cars with fuel injectors and different high technologies, their engine could operate with 5w20, which is why most manufacturers recommend it.

As you read further in this article, you will get a detailed answer to the question, “can I use 5w30 instead of 5w20”.

You will also learn what will happen if you use 5w30 instead of 5w20, the key difference between 5w30 and 5w20, and lots more.

What Will Happen if You Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20?

Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20

The car engine is at risk of faulting if you use 5w30 instead of 5w20 because the internal part of the engine functions well with the 5w20 oil.

5w30 and 5w20 have a similar winter rating. This means that the motor oils have similar thickness when the temperature is cold.

Nevertheless, 5w30 has a little higher thickness at 212°F than 5w20. Hence 5w30 oil is thicker than the 5w20 oil when the engine gets to the standard temperature.

The thickness or viscosity index of the oil is displayed with an oil rating which can be 5w20 or 5w30. How the oil flows at the standard temperature regulates the thickness rating.

When there are high viscosity figures, it simply means that the oil is heavy and flows slowly.

Oil with low viscosity in some engines is used to lessen the resistance of the oil flows and upgrade the effectiveness when the weather is cold, but oil with high viscosity supplies defense to the internal part of the engine, especially when the temperature is warm.

The car owner’s manual contains useful details of the oil the manufacturers are advised to use. This manual also contains the oil viscosity rating. They also give suggestions of oil that has a certain rating to be used.

The manual will help you verify if you can use other oil grades. In a situation where another oil is not specified, using the wrong oil can make the warranty of the vehicle invalid.

So for the question, “can I use 5w30 instead of 5w20?”. The answer is No, to avoid damaging your engine.

Also Read: Oil Smells Like Gas (Causes & Solutions)

In the end, the performance of the engine and the lifespan are affected. Therefore, it is better to stick with the recommendation from the manufacturers. Doing this will also allow the warranty of your engine to be valid.

What Will Happen if You Use 5w20 Instead of 5w30?

It is not recommended to use 5w20 instead of 5w30 because 5w30 oil has a greater viscosity than 5w20 oil. The 5w20 is a lightweight oil built to operate with new engines.

Nevertheless, if it is stated in the manual that you can use other types of oil, you can make use of 5w20 in place of the 5w30 because sometimes the 5w30 is good for high temperatures where there’s a breakdown of thinner oils.

Compared to light oils, heavier oils need more force to pass through the engine.

Engine oils with multiple viscosities are accessible and can function in different temperatures. When driving in temperatures of 120°F or -30°F, you can use the 5w20 or the 5w30 without being scared of any engine damage.

What Does 5W-30 or 5W-20 Stand For?

Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20

Oil Ratings such as the 5w20 or the 5w30 enable you to know the thickness of the oil. It also helps you know your oil’s flow resistance at various temperatures.

When the rating of an oil is high, it simply means that the oil is thick and does not easily start flowing like oil with a low rating. This is why it is ideal for people who drive when the temperature is hot or for an engine that operates at a high temperature.

Alternatively, you can also allow oil with low viscosity in the engines to reduce the flow and help your car work smoothly even under cold temperatures.

Multiple Grade Oils

As mentioned earlier, multiple grade oils are likely to have a different rating, and this is based on the temperature outside. For instance, the 5w20 oil in its viscosity rating has two different numbers. This is because of the special mixture of polymer, which rises as the temperature increases.

When this polymer increases, the oil viscosity gets thicker. The number you’ll see first shows the oil rating for winter, which is the oil’s viscosity whenever the temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40°C).

The number that comes second, which could be 20, for instance, is the one that tells you the viscosity of your oil when the temperature increases to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Is the Difference Between 5W-30 and 5W-20 Oil

The 5w30 and the 5w20 oils both have the SAE 5W winter oil type characteristics, yet they are different. Here are the differences between 5w30 and 5w20:

1. Operating Temperature

The format “XW-XX” is used in grading multiple-grade oils. The ‘W’ represents ‘Winter,’ the number that comes before states the viscosity of the oil when the temperature is 0 degrees Celsius (32°F), whereas the number that comes after denotes the oil viscosity when the temperature is 100 degrees Celsius (212°F)

The two oils both have 5W as their winter viscosity, which is a good oil winter viscosity grade, i.e., the lesser the figure is, the greater the performance of the oil when the temperature is cold.

5w30 operates quite more than the 5w20 when referring to the temperature performance, and the 5w30 is thicker than the other.

2. Gas Mileage

In general, oils with low viscosity produce efficient use of your car fuel

How?

With oil with a low viscosity, a thinner obstacle is created to guide between engine components, which reduces friction and increases engine performance. This will affect fuel efficiency and consumption.

The 5w20, which is the oil with low viscosity, may increase the economical use of fuel. This might not be very obvious, but it accumulates as time goes on.

Nevertheless, never forget to always use the oil that the manufacturers suggest or the one the mechanic suggests.

Although the 5w20 is great for fuel economy, changing the oil you normally use can cause more harm to your engine than good.

3. Motor Oil Weight

The winter rating of 5w20 is 5, and the weight in warm weather is 20. The viscosity is low compared to that of 5w30. They both have the same rating for viscosity, but the weight is different. For 5w30, in summer, the weight is 30, which makes it thicker.

The major reason for oil in engines is to grease the metal components to prevent clashing, which will result in friction.

The lubrication assists in helping the engine stay cool, filling cylinder gaps and pistons, and protecting the various parts of the engine from things like water and substances that could be corrosive.

In addition, oils remove acids and silicon oxide from components of the engine. The viscosity of the oil is very important in all these.

Viscosity characterizes the thickness of the oil and the resistance flow, and how it operates at severe temperatures. This shows that the more the oil’s viscosity, the more the oil gets thicker.

All kinds of oil have a rating on the container that indicates the type of motor oil and if it’s the right oil for the vehicle.

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) calculates how fast the oil flow via a certain size of tube to get the viscosity number.

The most accepted oil ratings are the 5w20 and the 5w30 because they are perfect for many different types of car engines.

4. Performance

They both work perfectly in their different climates. The 5w30 is best used in hot climates. Since thicker oil is important to withstand the heat, the engine will need some viscous oil because the engine will no doubt be hot.

The 5w20 is best used in cold weather, and the engine starts quickly because it has lesser viscosity and low friction. As a result, the 5w20 increases fuel efficiency and is also known for great performance.

On the other hand, the 5w30 is known for upgraded engine parts protection.

5w20 vs. 5w30: Which Oil Is Better?

Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20

Between the 5W20 and 5W30, No one is considered worse or better than the other. It all falls on what your engine wants and the type of your car.

Here are two factors to put into consideration when selecting the correct multiple grade oil for your vehicle:

  1. The temperature you drive in most of the time. Verify if it’s cold or hot temperature.
  2. The recommended viscosity grade of the oil for your engine.

Even though some vehicles do not accept different oil options, the majority have the viscosity grade of the oil recommended.

Since the engines are designed to work on specific oil viscosity, altering this can affect the engine’s performance.

Preferably, the 5w30 is best for persons who drive during the hot weather. The oil has a good viscosity index compared to the 5w20, and in warmer temperatures, they are more flexible. The 5w30 provides protection both in cold and hotter climates.

The 5w20 is perfect for people who live in places with cold weather and lesser temperatures. It can be used subtly for engines that do not get to severe temperatures. It also provides good onset performance in cold climates.

Note: old cars might require a high mileage variant for the oil they regularly use, which can be the 5w30 or 5w20.

In a situation like this, the oil with high mileage safeguards your engine at severe temperatures from drags and frictions in the engine.

Can You Mix 5W-20 and 5W-30 Oils?

Though some engines permit it, most mechanics will not advise you to mix 5W-20 And 5W-30 Oils. This is because in some situations, mixing different oils or using the wrong oil can void the car’s warranty and increase the cost of repair.

It is also putting the engine’s lifespan at risk, and it also weakens the longevity of the internal combustion of the engine.

Combining both oils and any other oil can result in engine depreciation, resulting in issues with severe damage to the engine parts.

Even though the engine permits it, you will not get good results when you mix various oils. Regardless of whether your car is flexible when it comes to oil viscosity grade, ensure you keep using an oil with the same viscosity rating.

What Happens if You Use the Wrong Oil in Your Vehicle?

Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20 oil

If, by chance, you make use of the wrong oil, firstly, you have to drain the oil and change it to the correct one. These might not affect the engine’s life immediately, but it’s better not to take chances.

Adhere to the following guide if you happen to be driving and have no place to change your oil:

  1. Ensure your driving is slow and your speed is monitored
  2. Always check the temperature limit of the engine, and don’t allow the engine to get to a very hot temperature
  3. If the standard temperature gets to the red zone, park your car and switch off the engine. Allow the engine to cool down before you continue driving.
  4. If the high temperature persists, call for help at the roadside.

Remember to keep a close watch on the oil you are using for the engine’s sake. In case the mechanic has put the wrong oil in by mistake, bring it to their attention so that they can replace it.

If not done, it might result in issues such as noise from the engine, engine deposits, and oil leakage. You might also perceive burns from your engine, a rise in oil consumption, and low fuel efficiency.

Also Read: Oil on Spark Plug Threads (Causes & Solutions)

Frequently Asked Questions – Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20?

Is 5w30 Ok to Use Instead of 5w20?

It is not recommended to use 5w30instead of 5W20. Because of the high resistance and thickness of 5w30 oil, the engine fuel economy and low energy output will be reduced. In addition, when you use 5w30 in place of 5w20, the engine could get damaged because the internal engine parts are made to work with the 5w20 oil.

Is There a Big Difference Between 5w20 and 5w30?

Yes, there is. The 5w20 winter rating is 5, and in warm conditions, it weighs 20. Compared to the 5w30, the 5w20 is less viscous. 5w30 shares the same viscosity rating in winter, but in warm or hot conditions, its weight is 30, which means it’s thicker than 5w20.

Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20 in My Toyota?

Using 5w30 will do your engine no damage; there might be added cost when it comes to low fuel economy because it uses oil with high viscosity.

Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20 in My FordF150?

Ford cars have a specific viscosity rating of SAE 5W-20. Ford also specified that when you use other oil in place of 5W-30, it reduces the engine’s longevity. So do not use 5w30 instead of 5w20 in your Fordf150.

Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20 in My Ford Fusion?

As stated by ford, using any oil apart from the 5w20 decreases the engine’s life. So it would be best to keep on using the 5w20 motor oil.

Can You Mix 5w20 and 5W-30 Oil?

It is possible to mix both oils only if your engine allows it. The two oil should be from the same brand to avoid damage, and both should have the same API service level.

What if I Accidentally Put 5W-30 Instead of 5w20?

If you put in the wrong oil, let’s say 5W-30 instead of 5w20, you are exposing the car engine to damage risk because the internal engine components are meant to operate with the 5w20 oil.

Conclusion – Can I Use 5w30 Instead of 5w20?

It is not recommended to use 5w30 instead of 5w20. This is because the low viscosity number like the 5w20 shows light oil that flows quickly, while the high viscosity number like the 5w30 means a thicker oil that operates well in severe conditions.

Using a 5w20 instead of a 5w30 is not also recommended. This is because an oil with low viscosity helps in the start-up process and is for engines with no specific weight for cold temperatures and winter. However, in warm conditions, oils with high viscosity are recommended.

At all times, adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions found in the manual. You can always go back to check the section for oil whenever it’s important.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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