A car owner who fails to change the motor oil often may worsen the car. Hence, it would be best if you learned to change your motor oil regularly. If you want a car to run in good shape, you should maintain its oil viscosity. However, not all motor oils will work in your engine, and if you use the wrong oil you may damage it. Will 5W 30 hurt a 5W 20 engine? Let’s find out.
The Functionality of Motor Oil
Engine or motor oil works to lubricate a car’s internal engine components. In addition, oil keeps your engine safe from corrosion, and motor oil ensures that the internal components are not hot during operation. Two elements make up motor oil, including the additives and the base stock.
The additives take care of oil lubricity and viscosity, while the base stock manages heat build-up in the engine. In addition, it ensures that the engine is lubricated. What’s more, grade and viscosity are used in rating any motor oil. Meanwhile, motor oil can be multi-grade or single grade. The latter has a standard viscosity level, while multi-grade has two sets of viscosities according to the engine temperature.
Over time, the motor oil thickens due to movements around the combustion engine. As a result, the oil gets a sludge-like appearance. When this happens, you need to change the oil. Failure to change the oil can result in your engine suffering from poor performance. Not only that, a car could experience engine failure if the poor performance is not corrected.
5W 30 vs. 5W 20
Whether your car is using 5W 20 or 5W 30, the rating of the motor oil deals with viscosity. In simple terms, a car owner learns about the oil’s viscosity at different temperatures. Higher rating oil is thicker in viscosity and does not flow freely like lower rating oil.
As we mentioned before, multi-grade motor oil comes with two ratings that depend on temperature. For instance, 5W 20 motor oil has two viscosity rating numbers. The reason for this is that this type of oil provides a combination of polymers. When the temperatures increase, the polymers increase in size as well.
For instance, the numbering on the sequence for 5W 20-engine oil can be interpreted as follow:
- The first number is 5, which displays the winter rating. That means the viscosity when the temperature reaches 104°F (40°C).
- The second number is 20 that displays the oil’s viscosity at 212°F (100°C).
5W 30 and 5W 20 are winter-grade oils designed for light-duty use and older engines. The two motor oils work best in colder regions or temperatures. Hence, both oils display SAE 5W winter oil properties. However, the two motor oils are different.
Multi-grade oil products come with the “XW-XX” configuration. The ‘W’ in “XW-XX” means ‘Winter.’ The viscosity of the oil is the number before ‘W,’ which is below 0°C (32°F). In addition, the numbers you see after it displays the oil viscosity when the temperature is 100°C or 212°F. The 5W in both motor oils offers viscosity in winter, and both oils offer a higher winter viscosity grade. Simply put, the lower number in the oil ensures that the product performs excellently in any cold setting.
However, 5W 30 oil operates at a higher temperature than 5W 20, and it offers a thicker oil when you compare it with 5W 20. The 5W 30 oil does not break down at a higher temperature with ease, and this means that the oil can protect your engine when the internal combustion is under high temperature and moderate oil pressure.
The thinner or lower viscosity oil offers your car better fuel efficiency, and the lighter oil offers engines a less protection barrier under normal operating temperatures. As a result, the engine improves in performance and reduces fiction. The result is better gas mileage and efficient fuel usage.
5W-20 oil has a lower viscosity than 5W-30. Hence, car owners enjoy less fuel consumption. However, you may hardly notice their difference, and you find this difference over time. Meanwhile, you should use the recommended motor oil for your car engine for effective performance.
While 5W 20 oil is great for your fuel efficiency, you may harm your engine if it is not suitable for it. Ideally, you can use 5W 20 oil if you live in a colder temperate.
Which Oil Is Better?
The 5W 20 and 5W 30 motor oil preferences depend on the car type and engine requirements. Before you buy any of the motor oil, you should consider the following:
- The recommended engine’s oil viscosity grade
- The car’s regular temperature in a cold or hot climate
Although we have cars that allow owners to use different motor oil options, some vehicles require you use their standard viscosity grade. If you work contrary to recommended oil viscosity, you can harm the performance of your engine.
You can 5W 30 motor oil in a general setting in hotter or seasonal climates. The oil provides you with a greater viscosity index compared to what 5W 20 offers car engines. You will love the 5W 30 if you live in warmer regions. Regardless, the oil is suitable for those in the cold areas too.
However, 5W-20 oil works only in temperate regions. You can use the motor oil for your light-duty work. Meanwhile, older vehicles require regular oil with higher mileage variants. The result is the protection of engines from friction at extreme temperatures and engine drag.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can Happen if You Use 5W 20 Instead of 5W 30?
You can interchange 5W 20 with 5W 30 because your engine is flexible with both motor oil. You can use the car’s manual to decide what works best for your engine. However, if you use any motor oil without recommendation, you can reduce the engine performance. In addition, you put the engine under harm.
An engine can suffer from more fiction when it uses the wrong motor oil. Hence, the engine works harder than normal to perform its numerous duties. The internal combustion of your engine slows down when it uses heavier or lighter oil. As a result, it can experience the formation of sludge, engine deposits, or oil leaks. On top of that, this problem can void your new engine of its warranty. You must not destroy your engine with the wrong motor oil.
Is It Possible to Mix 5W 30 and 5W 20?
Many engines can let you mix the motor oils. However, consult a mechanic to advise you if it is harmless to your engine. In some cases, you lose your car’s warranty when you mix the oil. Also, you have to spend more money to repair your engine. You can weaken your engine’s internal combustion durability by combining 5W 30 and 5W 20.
An engine can wear and tear faster when you mix the wrong oil. Eventually, this affects the critical parts of your engine. Meanwhile, if your engine is flexible in accepting the mix, you may not realize a better result in the viscosity. We recommend that you stick to the motor oil your engine uses at a time.
What Can Happen to Your Engine if You Add the Wrong Motor Oil?
Do not drive a car when using the wrong motor oil. Drain the oil, then use the recommended oil. However, if you realize the mistake later, you can quickly change the oil.
- You need to drive slowly with an eye on your car’s speed
- Check the temperature limit of the car
- You must not allow the engine to get hot
- Turn off your engine when it gets to the red zone
- You can drive again or reach out to a mechanic when the engine cools
Will 5W 30 hurt a 5W 20 engine? Hopefully, this article has answered this question for you. You should read your vehicle’s manual to learn more about your vehicle’s engine viscosity. However, if the manual does not help you with the proper oil viscosity rating, consult a professional. Irrespective of the motor oil you want to use, always change your oil.