There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to the topic of motor oils. For instance, there’s the issue of viscosity, oil thickness, and the ability to resist breakage when exposed to extreme temperatures. Now, your vehicle’s engine is designed to use a particular type of oil. So, if you’re a novice driver that knows nothing about oils, then one question that’s likely to give you sleepless nights is “can I use 10w30 instead of 5w30″?
You see, there’s a reason why car manufacturers specify the type of oil to use in your car model. Although interchanging the oils won’t hurt the engine much, it can void your car’s warranty, and worse, the oil can fail to deliver the full benefits it’s designed to offer to your engine.
Now, motor oils come in many types and variations. However, two of the most common multi-grade oils that are available are 10w30 and 5w30. If you inspect these oils closely, you’ll notice that they have identical densities but different viscosities. The real test here lies in their viscosities, which in this case is our main point of discussion.
But First, What Do the Numbers Mean?
To begin our discussion, we’ll first try to explain the meaning of these numbers. If you’re seeing this for the first time, then you must be wondering who the heck came up with these numbers and what do they represent. The good thing about these numbers is that they’re pretty easy to understand.
i) Let’s Start with the Numbers Before W
In this case, we’re referring to 10 in the case of 10w30 and 5 in the case of 5w30. These two numbers simply refer to the easiness of pouring motor oil at low temperatures. So, if you inspect a motor oil measuring scale, you’ll realize that the oil with the number 5 flows more easily at low temperatures than that with the number 10.
In our case, 5w30 can flow more easily and more smoothly than 10w30 during winter. Such oil is hence said to be less viscous as it flows smoothly.
Now, paying attention to oil viscosity is very important. Since 5w30 is less viscous than 10w30 in cold temperatures, this oil doesn’t thicken when poured into the engine. As a result, the oil travels faster across all engine parts to lubricate them on time.
ii) The Letter W
Next to the first numbers is a letter indicated as ‘W’. This one simply stands for winter. Its purpose is simply to convey how well a motor oil performs at low temperatures.
iii) Number After W
Right after the W, there’s another number you’re likely to see. In our case, we have the 30, which appears in both oils. These numbers refer to the oil’s density when the engine reaches its optimal operating temperature.
Since the engine is likely to get very hot when operating, a higher number is better as it represents a thick oil that doesn’t break easily when tasked to protect the various engine components. So, to summarize things up, the first number represents the oil’s viscosity, W refers to winter and the last numbers after W represent the oil’s density.
iv) Multi-Grade Oil
When it comes to motor oils, you must have heard of the term multi-grade oils. The opposite of this is single-grade oils. Multi-grade oils, such as the ones we’re discussing here, are made from a blend of low-viscosity base oil and special improver additives such as polymer additives.
When blended in the correct proportions, the result is a motor oil that offers a wider range of engine protection at an extended temperature range. So, such an oil (such as 5w30 and 10w30), is capable of keeping the engine in good condition in both hot and cold temperatures.
Now, 10w30 is among the best motor oils that are specifically designed for heavy-duty engines. The reason is due to the oil’s viscosity rating which ranges from 10 at low temperatures and 30 at high temperatures. So, what this means is that this engine oil is basically thick meaning it can operate for a longer time on heavily loaded engines.
For your motor oil to qualify as an authentic oil, it must meet or exceed certain parameters set by the American Petroleum Institute. Some of these parameters include the ACEA, API SN, and oil viscosity ratings.
The good news is that the 10w30 motor oil has fulfilled all these requirements. This basically implies that this motor oil can protect the engine and all its moving parts against sludge and unpleasant gels at high temperatures.
Lastly, when buying the 10w30 motor oil, you should ensure that it has an ACEA A3/B4 or A3/B3 rating. This is according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Are There Any Advantages of Using the 10w30 Motor Oil?
Of course, Yes! Now, when it comes to oils, two of the main tasks they’re offered to handle are lubricating movable engine parts and cooling the engine. The 10w30 motor oil does exactly that but in a bit of style.
First, this motor oil provides a layer of protection to all moving parts to prevent them from premature wear caused by friction.
The second benefit of the 10w30 motor oil is reducing cases of rust on the engine. It does this by nourishing the various engine parts to prolong the life of the engine. This advantage promotes smooth and noiseless gear and clutch performance when shifting gears in a manual transmission.
Another advantage of using 10w30 motor oil is that it’s the ideal choice for engines that use high-grade fuels such as biofuels and biodiesels.
Lastly, 10w30 oil is the best motor oil to consider for extremely high temperatures. Though it’s suited for hot weather, the oil doesn’t disappoint when used in cold weather.
About 5w30 Motor Oil
While 10w30 is best suited for high temperatures, 5w30 is the direct opposite. This type of motor oil is designed to prosper in cold temperatures. The reason for this is its low viscosity in cold temperatures. Naturally, liquids tend to thicken when exposed to cold temperatures. The same applies to oils. So, with 5w30, this motor oil has special additives that prevent it from thickening.
The result is a low viscous oil that flows easily. This easy flow is what allows this oil to penetrate various engine parts fast enough to lubricate them. Remember, if an oil thickens (due to cold temperatures) and fails to reach various engine parts on time, the result is extreme friction and overheating of the engine, which of course, is dangerous.
Similar to 10w30, the 5w30 oil meets and exceeds all the standards set by the various institutions. This oil is also approved and recommended by giant car manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Ford, and Porsche.
But, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind. When we say the 5w30 oil is approved by major car-making companies, what we mean is the oil itself. Therefore, when buying this oil, you need to check the specific brand you’re buying the oil from to avoid buying a low-grade 5w30 oil.
Does the 5w30 Oil have Any Benefits?
Yes, of course. The 5w30 is an outstanding oil that benefits your engine in myriad ways. The oil works the same way as the 10w30 oil where it forms a continuous layer of protection to various engine parts. The oil lubricates the engine and protects movable parts against premature wear and tear caused by friction and rust.
Now, the 5w30 oil has one major advantage over other motor oils—it has superior thermal stability. What this means is that the properties of this oil remain the same even when exposed to extreme weather conditions such as high temperature and pressure.
Besides, 5w30 lowers the engine’s fuel consumption meaning you’ll enjoy improved fuel efficiency when using it. Lastly, 5w30 oil is best suited to vehicles that use gas-powered engines. Since light-duty petrol engines have low power during cold startups, 5w30 oil kicks in by improving the effectiveness of the engine when starting your car in cold climate conditions.
So, Can I Use 10w30 Instead of 5w30?
The simple answer is yes. You can use either oil interchangeably depending on your situation. From what we’ve learned, these two multi-grade oils have different viscosities in low temperatures but identical densities at optimal operating temperatures.
Now, 10w30 motor oil can be interchanged with 5w30 in specific cases. One of them is the type of weather you’re driving on. For instance, if you live in tropical climates where it’s extremely hot, then you’ll need a more viscous oil.
An oil such as 10w30 has special additives that make it thick enough to resist thinning when exposed to high temperatures. With such an advantage, this type of oil will offer advanced lubrication to all parts of the engine without breaking or thinning beyond its operational viscosity.
Another scenario where 10w30 can be preferred over 5w30 is when you’re driving an old or a high-mileage vehicle. You see, as your vehicle gets old, pipes and other oil passages wear out causing a reduction in oil pressure.
So, to compensate for this reduction in pressure, owners of such vehicles prefer to use high viscous oils to increase oil pressure even when using worn-out passage pipes.
When Should I Switch to 5w30?
The best time to switch from 10w30 to 5w30 is if you’re located in extremely cold regions. In fact, this mostly happens when the climate changes from being so hot to be so cold. Under such weather, most gas-powered engines face a lot of difficulty during cold startups.
So, to compensate for the loss of power, most people prefer to use a low viscous oil such as 5w30 to offer the engine an extra boost. The best thing about this motor oil is that its light meaning it pours easily. This property allows 5w30 oil to penetrate quickly across all the engine parts to help the engine fire up quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Which Oil is Better Between 10w30 and 5w30?
When it comes to 10w30 vs 5w30, both of these oils are good. The reason why they’re good is simply that each manufacturer recommends a specific type of oil to their engines. However, for modern engines, an oil that is thinner during engine startup is better and safer.
According to most automotive experts, most engines wear out during cold startups. So, to prevent this premature engine wear, less viscous oil is needed at the time of startup to quickly move across all engine parts to lubricate them. In our case, the 5w30 motor oil is the preferred candidate. However, one setback with this oil is that it faces evaporation tendencies when used in high-temperature regions.
Q2. What’s the Difference Between 5w30 and 5w20?
If you look at these two multi-grade oils, you’ll realize that their viscosities are identical at low temperatures. However, at 100°C, 5w30 is considered thicker than 5w20 at a slight margin. This, therefore, makes 5w30 the best motor oil to consider when it’s extremely hot or when the engine is operating at optimal temperature. 5w20, on the other hand, is suitable for cold temperatures but not hot climates as it thins out quickly.
Q3. Can I Use Thicker Oil in My Engine?
Yes, you can. In fact, this is a method that applies to old engines or vehicles with high mileage. Here, a slightly thicker oil will improve pressure when the oil is moving through worn our pipes. This type of oil also aids in protecting worn-out bearings and reducing leakages.
However, there are cases when this type of oil cannot be used. One of those cases is in cold regions. Using thick oil in such conditions will put the engine under high stress to pump the thick oil through the various parts. As a result, this will consume a lot of fuel leading to poor fuel economy.
It will also lead to premature engine wear, overheating of the engine, and buildup of sludge and piston deposits on the engine.
The main purpose of motor oils is to cool the engine and lubricate engine parts. As a result, this aids in improving engine performance, prolonging the life of the engine, and improving fuel efficiency. With this in mind, it’s clear that oils can be used interchangeably.
However, how you use the motor oil will depend on your needs, the type of engine you’ve got, and the external temperatures. For instance, if you have an old car with high mileage, a heavy-duty engine, or if the temperatures are extremely high, switching to 10w30 motor oil is the best choice. So, this alone answers the question of whether it’s okay to use 10w30 instead of 5w30.
But, there’s an exemption. If temperatures are extremely low, or if you want to cold start a gas-powered engine at low temperatures, then a 5w30 motor oil is the ideal solution. But, other than all these, it’s always good to refer to your car’s manual to see the type of motor oil they’ve suggested for your specific engine.