Can I Use 10w30 Instead of 5w30? 10w30 vs 5w30 Engine Oil

In this article, we are going to discuss the similarities and differences of a 10w30 oil against a 5w30 oil. And whether or not you can use them interchangeably. Answering the question: Can I use 10w30 instead of 5w30?

Whether you are a car owner or auto mechanic, you might have encountered the terms SAE 0W-20 oil, SAE 5W-30 oil, and SAE 10W-30 oil. The question is, can you use 10W30 instead of 5W30? Or the other way around?

It’s not uncommon for buyers to ask this question when considering what motor oil to use in their vehicle. In fact, you might have asked this question too before deciding on which motor oil to purchase for your car.

Can I use 10w30 instead of 5w30?

Can I use 10w30 Instead of 5w30
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The answer is yes. You can use 10w30 instead of 5w30 oil since both meet the SAE standard for viscosity at operating temperature. Generally, the viscosity difference between the two is neglectable.

The proper question is should you use 10w30 and 5w30 interchangeably? Car manufacturers go through a lot of studies and tests to provide the best performing engine oil specifications for your car so you can’t go wrong by following the manual. You can try searching for your manual here if you don’t have it with you.

Unless you are in a situation where you have no other choice but to use what is available between the do, it is ideal to use the manufacturer’s specifications. The point is, don’t go out and use 10W30 oil instead of 5w30. Use it if you’re stuck out in the desert and all you can get ahold of is 10W30. Otherwise, stick with the recommended 5W30 oil for your vehicle.

Related: Can You Mix Fully Synthetic With Semi Synthetic Oil? 

What is the difference between 10w30 and 5w30 oil?

10w30 vs 5w30, what is the difference? To answer this question we need to learn about engine oil types, weights, and viscosity. According to Valvoline, each motor oil’s grade is determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to determine an oil’s viscosity. The viscosity of these oils determines how easily they flow through a motor when it is cold, hot, or anywhere in between.

SAE 5W

This is the thinnest oil of all. It is recommended for temperatures below -20 degrees Fahrenheit. (It is not just a matter of viscosity, though. Some 0W oils are not recommended for use in cold weather at all.)

SAE 10W

This oil is a little thicker than 5W oil. It is recommended for temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is the meaning of code in motor oils?

The “W” in 10W30 or 5w30 stands for winter and is the oil’s flow characteristic at low temperatures. Most engine manufacturers recommend a 5W or 10W oil for cold-weather starting. A 5W oil flows better at low temperatures than a 10W oil.

Number Before

  • Implies a lower range in cold temperature. 
  • A lower number means lower viscosity/runnier.
  • Lower viscosity means oil stays liquid in cold
  • 5>10 

Number After

  • Implies thickness of oil in higher temperatures
  • A higher number is better here

Which is better 5w30 or 10w30?

In the previous sections, we answered the question, “Can I use 10w30 Instead of 5w30 oil?”. As you can see, the differences are minimal, and these two oils are very similar to one another. Now you may be asking which is better, 5w30 or 10w30?

The answer is it depends on where you live.

When two or more of these numbers are in sequence, it means the oil meets the requirements of each number. For example, if oil is labeled 5W-30, then it will meet the requirements of both SAE 5W and SAE 30.

The lower the first number the better the oil’s flow in cold weather (the temperature range is from 0 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit). The second number indicates how well the oil flows at high temperatures (this number represents temperatures above 212 degrees F).

The higher this number is, the better protection for your engine and its parts. This number also reflects how well your engine will start up in very cold weather and protects against wear when your engine is running at high speeds.

Related: Can you mix 5w20 and 5w30 engine oil? Read First

What will happen if I substitute 10w30 for 5w30?

As discussed earlier, unless it is an emergency, it’s never a good idea to deviate from the recommendation of your car manufacturer. What will happen if I put 10w30 instead of 5w30 oil? Can I use 10w30 instead of 5w30 in summer?

If you were to use 10W-30 instead of 5W-30, the engine would be slightly less protected against wear during startup and colder temperatures. 10W-30 is also slightly less efficient at protecting your engine in extreme heat (above 140 degrees Fahrenheit). But unless you live in an extreme climate, the difference in protection should be negligible.

Another potential issue is that a thicker oil won’t flow as quickly through your engine. This could decrease fuel economy by a fraction of a percent. Again, the difference is negligible and shouldn’t have a drastic effect on your fuel economy.

Can I mix 10w30 and 5w30?

If you are just topping up, then there is no issue with mixing 5w30 and 10w30 engine oils. It is usually fine to mix different weights of oil as long as it falls within the range recommended by the manufacturer of your car. Both 5w30 and 10w30 are within this range so either will work safely. However, we recommend only using one or the other when doing regular maintenance.

The most important thing is to keep the oil level between the minimum and maximum marks of the dipstick. If you find that the level is below the minimum mark, then you can top-up with 5w30 or 10w30 oil.

Related: Can You Mix 5w30 And 5w40 Oil? Yes But Not Ideal

Conclusion

This article, answers the question can I use 10w30 instead of 5w30? The answer is yes. If you are not in a situation where low-temperature startup anti-wear protection is not critical to you, then using 10w30 oil can be fine as well.

The main difference between 5w30 and 10w30 is that the latter has a higher Viscosity Index (VI) than the former. In layman terms, your engine will be able to handle higher revolutions per minute (RPMs) at startup thanks to the thicker oil in 10W-30.

The choice between what engine oil to use is highly dependent on the climate you live in. In most regions, there is not a significant difference in the engine wear and tear results. Even though there may be no difference or minimal loss in performance, your car will still feel sluggish during the cold and dead of winter if the viscosity of the engine oil isn’t adequate for the conditions.

In the end, using an unrecommended engine oil will reduce your engine protection over time.

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