Difference Between 5W20 and 5W30 Motor Oil

It is often said that the engine oil is the lifeblood of any engine, and your choice of engine oil will determine how long your car engine will remain useful. You will not enjoy your investment in purchasing a car if the engine is not in proper condition. 

What Does the Engine Consist Of?

The automobile engine is comprised of several metals and non-metallic components that are constantly in motion. This motion is what drives the shafts and propels the car forward. While this motion is taking place, friction is being generated, and without proper lubrication, much heat will be generated, and the components will wear out very quickly. In a worse scenario, it could result in a total breakdown of the engine.

No doubt, most car owners do not have to bother about their car oil details since they take it to an automobile mechanic whenever it is due for servicing. This is a nice way to keep your car healthy, but it shouldn’t stop you from knowing what works best for your engine and why. Such a piece of knowledge will come handy should you find yourself in a situation where your machine needs to be serviced, and there is no mechanic in sight.

This article examines the 5w20 and 5w30 engine oils because they are both appropriate for cold and hot weather conditions. The Society of Automotive Engineers classifies engine oil based on its viscosity, and the higher the number, the higher the density. The viscosity of oil under this classification varies from the very thick ones, almost the thickness of honey, and the very light one, as light as water.

What Does Viscosity Mean?

This might not be the first time you are coming across the word viscosity. However, if it is, viscosity simply means the thickness of the oil, which inadvertently determines its speed of flow. The higher the density of the oil, the lower its ability to flow. 

Low viscous oil will perform better in the engine as it will quickly get to the hidden components and keep them lubricated during operation. The w that is written in the middle of numbers signifies winter and not weight as many erroneously believe. The number 5 at the right side of w in both cases represents the oil’s viscosity during winter (i.e., extremely cold temperature).

The primary job of lubrication oil is to reduce the friction between moving parts. However, there are many more features that many are not aware of.

They help regulate the engine’s temperature, thus not allowing some parts to overheat due to constant grinding against each other. Beyond that, the engine oil helps remove silicon oxide, and any acidic content in the engine occurs. Whenever you flush out engine oil during servicing, the waste materials end up being flushed out with the oil.

As time goes on, the engine oil will lose its quality and look like sludge. This process of oil deteriorating is a natural one but can be stopped by regular check-ups and maintenance. Although engine oils are very important in the engine and play different roles, if you refuse to care for your machine, no oil will be able to help you.

Difference Between 5w30 and 5w20

The only remarkable difference that exists between the 5w20 and 5w30 engine oil is their viscosity. This means the time it will take both to flow through an orifice is different. Therefore, the 5w20 oil produces less drag and friction in the engine than 5w30 due to its thinner viscosity. 

Parts of the engine susceptible to drag include the crankshaft, pistons, and valve train. Since the machine will be doing less work against itself, the 5w20 oil offers a greater oil economy. 

The free flow of the oil means that all engine components will easily get enough oil to lubricate them during operation. The 5w20 oil is the best choice under a cold weather condition.

The 5w30 oil is the more suitable option in hot weather conditions where the temperature changes the oil state. Under this condition, the more viscous oil is, the better it will withdraw the heat.

Between 5w20 and 5w30, the latter is the better choice as it gives better engine protection than the former no wonder it is one of the most preferred oil types by car owners and experts. This is partly because of two reasons: it is suitable for most types of car engines, and secondly, it is ideal for a broad range of weather conditions range from warmer to hotter climate.

Making A Choice

If you find yourself in a situation where you must choose between these two oil grades, you should note that there is only a little difference between the protection you will get from 5w20 and 5w30. However, the environmental conditions under which your vehicle will be operating should influence your choice. 

If it is winter, or winter is around the corner; your car will fare better with a 5w20 oil type, but if it is under a warm or high-temperature condition, you should go for the 5w30 oil.

As we already stated, the difference between these two oils is not very much, but you must make a tight decision between the two. We would advise that you go for the 5w30.

This recommendation is because 5w30 oil has a better shear strength and compared to the 5w20; hence it works smoothly regardless of engine type and temperature. However, if you can’t find a 5w30 oil, you can go for a 5w20. The difference in your engine performance won’t be too much.

Conclusion – Can You Use 5W20 Instead of 5W30

As you have seen, the considerations for selecting the appropriate oil for your engine are numerous. Firstly, the atmospheric condition now would make one the right join in a season and it becomes the wrong choice in another season. 

For example, the 5w20 will be the best choice during winter and in summer, the 5w30 becomes the right choice. However, we would recommend that you always refer to your user manual for the best advice about what grade of oil you should use. 

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