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Can I use 5w30 instead of 5w20? It’s a simple question with complex answer. The short answer is no. But why, you ask? Traditionally 5w30 was recommended for older engine cars. But modern vehicles equipped with fuel injectors and other high-tech technologies can work with lighter engine oils like 5w20, so the manufacturers recommend.

But, there’s more. Let’s find out.

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It is not recommended. Although they both have the same winter rating of 5, the thickness (viscosity) of 5w30 is a bit higher than 5w20. That means your engine’s at stake for using the high viscosity oil. So if your owner’s manual says to use 5w30, I’d recommend sticking to it. Cause they’ve made the engine and knows better.

What Will Happen If You Put 5w30 Instead Of 5w20?

Using 5W-30 instead of 5W-20, you risk damaging your car’s engine because the internal engine components work with 5W-20 motor oil.

5W-20 and 5W-30 motor oil both have the same winter rating. It means that both motor oils have the same viscosity under cold temperature. However, 5W-30 has a slightly higher viscosity at 212 degrees Fahrenheit than 5W-20. It implies that 5W-30 oil will be thicker than 5W-20 oil once the engine reaches the normal operating temperature.

The viscosity index of the motor oil is shown by an oil rating, such as 5W-30 or 5W-20. The resistance to flow that an oil exhibit at a temperature determines its viscosity rating. Higher viscosity numbers suggest a heavier oil that flows slower.

Lower viscosity oil is used in some engines to reduce oil flow resistance and improve efficiency in cold weather, but high-viscosity lubricants provide more protection to engine internals, especially at warmer temperature.

Detailed information regarding the manufacturer’s recommended motor oil can be found in the owner’s manual. For most vehicles, this may include the oil viscosity rating only. Car manufacturers also recommend a particular type of oil with a specific rating.

Your owner’s manual will clarify if any other oil grades are allowed. If no alternative to 5W-20 is mentioned, then using a wrong oil type may void the vehicles’ power train warranty. So, to answer, can 5w30 be used instead of 5w20, is no, it may kill your engine in the long run.

Best 5w30 Oils

It is not safe to use 5w20 instead of 5w30. 5W20 is thinner and made for colder temperature. If you use 5w20 in warmer temperature instead of 5w30, you may have to deal with more friction and faster engine wear. Eventually your engine performance and longevity will be affected. I’d advise sticking with the manufacturer’s recommended grade in normal situation. This way your engine warranty remains valid too.

What Will Happen If You Put 5w20 Instead Of 5w30?

It is not advisable either. Because 5w30 has a higher viscosity grade than 5w20. 5w20 is a lightweight oil that is designed to work with newer engines.

However, if the manufacturer allows, you can use 5w20 instead of 5w30 in some cases because 5w30 motor oil is better for higher temperature where thinner oils tend to break down.

Manufacturers are using motor oil as part of a program to help vehicle’s engine get better gas mileage.

Heavier oils require more horsepower to flow through an engine than lighter lubricants.

Motor oils with multiple viscosities are now available that work in a wide range of temperatures. Unless you regularly drive in temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or -30(minus thirty) degrees Fahrenheit, you can use either 5w-20 or 5w-30 in your engine without the danger of harming it.

Best 5w20 Oils

5w-30 oil is suitable for a wide range of temperatures. It is one of the most widely used oils in the market.

It is a multi-grade oil that ranges from a low viscosity of grade 5 to high viscosity of grade 30.

The letter “W” stands for the word “winter,” and the number before it represents the thickness of the oil at low temperatures, and the number which follows it shows viscosity at extreme temperatures when the car is running.

5w30 motor oil is ideal for cars that are driven in cold climates. If you start an engine at low temperatures, it can flow freely enough to coat and protect the engine’s internal components.

The best motor oil for your vehicle is one that will endure the highest temperatures and still can be able to flow well when the temperature drops.

Always use the oil that your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. However, 5w30 motor oil can operate at temperatures as high as 95°F and as low as -22°F, making it ideal if you drive your vehicle in an area that experiences high seasonal temperature fluctuations.

5w30 meets API SN requirements under the American Petroleum Institute. APA SN is a new category of motor oils which the Institute introduced in 2010. Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Porsche, and Ford also approved the motor oil.

It’s also ideal for long travels that require higher fuel use and heat exposure. It’s best for personal cars, gasoline engines, light-duty gasoline engines, and light-duty diesel engines, especially older engine.

5w-20 is a popular motor oil grade that is well suited to colder areas. The number before the “W” refers to the oil’s viscosity rating in winter (W), whereas the “20” after the “W” refers to the thickness of the oil in warmer weather.

Because it is thinner, 5w20 works well in cold and freezing weather because it has less friction and drag when flowing to deeper engine components. The viscosity increases with the number. Therefore, 5w20 flows more readily than 5w30.

5w20 delivers optimized fuel efficiency and performance in cold areas because of its lower viscosity.

Thinner motor oil ignites easily even at freezing temperatures that are below negative. So 5w-20 is suitable for use if the temperature is below zero. It is ideal for cars, trucks, and other modern gasoline-powered vehicles, SUVs, and light trucks.

Though 5w-30 and 5w-20 are two of the most popular motor oils used in vehicles, there’s so much confusion about these motor oil grades that some people use them interchangeably. Let’s get the difference between 5w30 and 5w20 straight.

There’s a substantial difference between the oil grades, primarily because of their viscosity—the capacity to flow or the motor oil’s thickness to flow against friction. These motor oil grades are suited for different conditions because of the variance in viscosities.

Key Difference Between 5w30 And 5w20 Motor Oil

Feature5w30 Oil5w20 Oil
WeightNumber 5 before the W describes the viscosity during winter. 30 represents the weight of the oil in hot climates. Means it has greater weight.Number 5 before the W describes the viscosity during winter. 20 represents the weight of the oil in hot climates. Means it's thinner and lighter.
ViscosityMore viscous and thick. Flows slowly because of friction.Less viscous and thin. Flows quickly and freely with less friction.
Fuel Efficiency Has lesser fuel efficiency and performs poorer in freezing temperatures.Has greater fuel efficiency and performs better in freezing temperatures.
Exposure to high temperatures It gives overall engine protection because it does not break down faster in tropical climates.Breaks down faster in high temperatures, exposing engine parts to wear.
Engine PerformanceEngine Makes the car engine start slowly in cooler climates Enables the car engine to start faster in cooler temperatures.Enables the car engine to start faster in cooler temperatures.
Suitable ClimateUsed in hotter conditions and summer.Best used in winter.


Both 5w30 and 5w20 perform effectively in their respective climates. 5w30 is a favorite in hotter climates, where a thicker oil is necessary to resist the greater heat. The engine will undoubtedly become hot, requiring viscous oil.

While 5w20 is a favorite in colder temperatures, the faster engine starts because it has a lower viscosity and less friction in the engine parts. In colder temperatures, 5w20 is associated with better performance and improved fuel efficiency.

In contrast, 5w30 is associated with improved overall engine parts protection.

Operating Temperatures

Because of the thinner viscosity, 5W-20 performs well at lower operating temperature, whereas 5W-30 is thicker and works best in higher operating temperature.

The 5w20 would easily flow in cold temperatures (during the winter), but it would thin up in hot temperatures. 5w30 flows freely (exactly as 5w20), but it performs better at high operating temperatures due to the higher weight.

Fuel Economy

5w20 will be slightly less viscous than a 5w30 at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The viscosity of the 5w30 oil will cause less drag and allow for smoother circulation around your engine parts. It can reduce horsepower, but it can significantly reduce fuel economy.

The difference between the two types of motor oil is minor, and switching from one grade to the other is unlikely to drop fuel economy. Savings at the pump can build up with time.

Motor Oil Weight

5w20 has a winter rating of 5 and a weight of 20 in warmer weather. It has a lower viscosity than 5w30. 5w30 has the same viscosity rating of 5 in the winter but a higher oil weight of 30 in the summer, making it thicker.

The primary purpose of motor oil in an engine is to lubricate the metal parts to avoid rubbing against each other, as this will cause friction.

The lubricant helps to keep the engine cool, fills piston and cylinder gaps, and protects engine parts from water and other corrosive substances.Besides, motor oil eliminates silicon oxide and acids from engine components. The motor oil’s viscosity of the oil is a vital factor in all these functions.

Viscosity describes the oil’s thickness and resistance to flow and how it performs at extreme temperatures. It means that the higher the oil viscosity number, the thicker the oil. Every type of motor oil has a rating on the bottle that shows what kind of oil it is and whether it’s suitable oil for your vehicle.

The viscosity number results from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) calculating how quickly oil will flow through a specific size tube.
5w30 and 5w20 motor oils are two of the most common oil ratings because they’re ideal for a wide range of car engine types.

Wrap Up

So to wrap up, short answer to your question, can I use 5w30 instead of 5w20 is no. Because, a lower motor oil viscosity number such as 5w20 implies a thinner oil that flows faster, and a higher oil viscosity number such as 5w30 tells a thicker oil that works better in extreme conditions.

Can I use 5w20 instead of 5w30 is also a no. A lower viscosity oil should be used for a cold start-up, engines with no specified weight for winter, and colder temperatures. For a warmer climate, use a higher viscosity oil.

Always follow your owner’s manual. Don’t forget comeback and checkout the 5w-20 vs 5w-30 section and refer to it if when necessary.

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