5w20 vs 5w30 Motor Oil- What You Need To Know

​Many people prefer to have the mechanic carry out the oil change in their car. This is all fine and dandy when you can afford these services. What would you do if you were stranded, in need of an oil change and had to do it on your own? This is where the rubber meets the road. You can therefore not afford to have no clue about the type of motor oil that works for your vehicle.

​Related: 5w30 vs 5w40 or, 5w30 vs 10w30

Function of Oil

​Motor oil, like any other grease, is used to lubricate various internal parts of the car. This reduces the friction between these parts which ultimately reduces wear and tear. With good motor oil, you will replace your car parts less because they stay intact for longer. Additionally, people ignore the fact that fuel efficiency is greatly influenced by the type of motor oil you use in your car. With these things on the line, you therefore need to get motor oil that works best for your vehicle. This is where the debate ​about 5w20 vs. 5w30 comes in.

​Single vs. Multi Grade Oils

Single vs Multi Grade Oils

​There are two broad classifications of motor oil according to the Society of Automotive Engineers, also known as the SAE.  These are: single grade and multi grade oil.

​​​​The single grade oil cannot be modified. It is pure without any additives whatsoever. It comes with a binary number and letter ‘w’ to signal its viscosity. Viscosity is a liquid’s resistance to flow. For single grade motor oil, you will find the letter ‘w’ which signifies winter. It is preceded by a binary number which can be 0, 5, 10, 20 or 30 onwards. These numbers show how viscous the liquid is during winter, i.e., at 0 degrees Celsius and below.

On the other hand, multi grade motor oil has additives. These are added in order to provide for cars in areas that have both extremely low and high temperatures. These have the same viscosity rating that is in the multi grade oils, the ‘w’ letter and then another binary number after the letter. The first number shows viscosity during winter or colder temperatures while the second refers to how thin or thick the oil is at higher temperatures.

​Weather Differences and Viscosity

​The differences in weather make multi grade oils important. Your car needs adequate lubrication in any type of weather. In lower temperatures, you want oil that flows through quickly and therefore lubricates every part keeping the car functioning well and the engine running. This can only be achieved by low viscosity oil. This is the reason why the 5w oils are more popular. In the​ 5w20 vs 5w30 oil debate, it is clear that both of these oils have the same characteristics at lower temperatures. They heat up fast and flow fast as well.

On the other hand, higher temperatures will demand a higher viscosity. The oil should be able to flow through your car in good time but it should also be on the heavier side to provide adequate protection between the moving parts. Another reason why you would need thicker oil for higher temperatures is because it makes it harder to breakdown.

When oil has served its purpose, it breaks down into a sludge or grime that needs to be changed out for new oil. This breakdown is influenced largely by the viscosity of the oil during the different temperatures. In that case,​ the 5w20 vs 5w30 comparison shows that the latter is thicker than the former.

​5w20 vs 5w30

​So the big question comes in: which is the best motor oil for your car? The truth is that every car comes with an owner’s manual which has this information. Some manufacturers will recommend the 5w20 or the 5w30 oils for specific cars. The best thing is to stick to what your owner’s manual provides for.

The person who manufactured the car clearly knows better than anyone else. Some people will also let their mechanics decide on which type of oil to use for their cars. They do not get into the details but will only buy the oil that they see the mechanic use if they are stranded and have to change the oil alone.

As for the 5w20 vs 5w30 oils, the choice lies in the weather that you experience. If you have slightly lower than average temperatures when it is hot, then you can go for the 5w20 oil. If, on the other hand, you live in an area with higher than average temperatures, the 5w30 would best suit your car. Both of these synthetic oils work for winter.

For more details info you can check this video:

​Fuel Efficiency and Vehicle Damage

​One of the advantages of using the 5w20 instead of the 5w30 oil is that the former provides better fuel efficiency. When the oil flows faster, the engine also ignites faster and therefore fuel is conserved. The efficiency, though significant, will not lead to an extremely noticeable jump on your MPG. However, you can definitely tell that the fuel efficiency in the two motor oils differs.

Some people are of the opinion that the 5w20 leads to damages in your car. The argument for this is that because the oil is thinner than its counterpart, it provides less protection for friction between the moving parts. This then forces you to replace parts frequently because of constant wear and tear. The truth is that this is a false way of thinking. As earlier mentioned, the two oils work well in higher temperatures depending on whether the weather is inclined towards lower than average or higher than average temperatures during the hotter seasons.

​Final Verdict

​The 5w20 vs ​5w30 debate has been on for quite a while now. Most car owners who are not knowledgeable about these differences have been left in the dark often wondering which they should use for their cars. With this information, you can now make an informed decision as you change your oil next time. You want to ensure that your car has the best.

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