0W20 vs 5W30 – What Are the Differences?

Choosing the best engine oil for your car can be challenging. We get it. Many people are unsure whether to use 0W20 or 5W30 oils. So, what exactly is the difference between 5W30 and 0W20?

0W20 engine oil wins the competition in terms of performance. Compared to the 5W30 oil, 0W20 flows well even at low temperatures. It can keep the same viscosity or semi-fluid consistency throughout an engine’s internal structure. Moreover, 0W20 oil is thicker than 5W30, especially when your car engine reaches its optimal operating temperature.

Temperature fluctuations substantially impact the oil’s viscosity. So, the viscosity will increase as the temperature rises, and then it decreases when the temperature falls.

Read on to learn more about the difference between 0W20 and 5W30, the benefits, and whether you can use them interchangeably. 

0W20 vs. 5W30 Explained

0W20 vs 5W30

Most Popular Engine Oil Is 0W20

Both are there to lubricate and preserve a healthy engine. The most popular engine oil is 0W20, which provides the best performance for your car.

0W20 Oil Flows Well at Low Temperatures Than 5W-30

0W20 oil flows well even at low temperatures when compared to 5W-30. It can maintain the same viscosity or semi-fluid consistency throughout the internal structure of an engine. 

5W-20 Oil Is Thinner at Extreme Temperatures

Furthermore, when the ambient temperature is too cold or too hot, 0W20 tends to be thicker than 5W30. Both oils essentially act as a buffer between moving parts within the engine. What parts of the engine are we talking about here? The piston rings and cylinder walls.

As the piston rings rotate up and down in their chambers, generating compression for ignition and pushing exhaust out of the chamber during the power stroke, they are exposed to extremely high temperatures.

Damaged Piston Rings Due to Tremendous Heat

If suitable lubrication procedures are not followed, you could have damaged piston rings due to the tremendous heat. 

The cylinder walls are also subjected to extreme heat, though not as much as the piston rings. The friction causes high temperatures on cylinder walls over time, especially in high-performance engines under load or remarkably sedate engines that operate for extended periods.

Essential to Choose the Right Oil

Choosing the right oil is so vital for your engine’s health. If you choose the wrong one, it may cause engine damage. You should also evaluate whether the oil type is compatible with your car. 

There are various factors to consider when comparing engine oils, including price, weather, driving conditions, internal components, mileage, and others.

What Is the Difference Between 0W20 and 5W30 Engine Oils?

So, let’s take a closer look at 0W20 and 5W30 engine oils and see what sets them apart:

0W-20 Oil 

All-season Formula Manufactured in Japan

0W20 oil is all-season formula manufactured in Japan. You can use this oil in all weather conditions. Its standard components make it easier to start the engine in cold weather, while the synthetic components offer superior protection in hot weather.

Has a Relatively Low Viscosity Rating Than Other Engine Oils

0W20 has a relatively low viscosity rating than other engine oils. Meaning it is more fluid or thinner. This allows air to circulate more freely around the engine.

Has an Excellent Sealing Ability

Its excellent sealing ability allows for higher fuel mileage while protecting the engine. This type of oil is mostly used in cars with high-performance engines, and it is more expensive than other engine oils.

Best to Use in Temperatures Below 50°F

It is best used in temperatures below 50°F since it protects against cold starts. However, once the engine has reached normal operating temperature, 0W20 oil is still the best choice for performance and protection.

5W30 Oil

Has a Medium Viscosity Rating

This type of oil has a medium viscosity rating, meaning it’s thicker than 0W20 but thinner than other engine oils with higher viscosity ratings. 

This makes it more difficult for the air to circulate, protecting the engine from any potential damage caused by friction during normal operation.

Best Used When Temperatures Are Below 100°F

Plus, 5W30 oil is best used when temperatures are below 100°F and will guard against cold starts. You can, however, still use it in hotter weather.

5w-20 vs. 5w-30 Oil: Which Is Better?

Characteristics of 5W30 Engine Oil 

Multigrade Engine Oil

The 5W30 engine oil is multigrade, meaning it contains viscosities ranging from a low of 5 to a high of 30. This is similar to the majority of today’s engine oils.

The W stands for “winter,” and the number before it represents the viscosity (or thickness) of the oil at low temperatures (thus the W), while the number after it represents the viscosity of the oil at higher temperatures.

Can Work at Temperatures as Low as -86°F and as High as 95°F

Always use the oil that your car’s manufacturer recommends. 5W30, on the other hand, can work at temperatures as low as -86°F and as high as 95°F, making it an excellent choice if you drive in an area where the ambient temperature varies significantly.

Can Lubricate, Seal, and Protect an Engine’s Internal Components

5W30 is especially useful if you always drive in cold climates. It can lubricate, seal, and protect an engine’s internal components in a wide range of weather circumstances, thanks to its viscosity range of 5W. You can use this type of oil both in summer and winter.

Characteristics of 0W20 Engine Oil

The first number “0” (winter index) and the last number “20” (summer index) refer to the temperature range. This oil has a minimum viscosity of 5.6 mm²/s and can withstand -300 to +395°F. It will undoubtedly push your car to its limits.

Due to its cost, European companies rarely recommend this type of oil. This has to do with the internal combustion engine’s design and the significant modes of operation.

Add to this; you should only use 0W20 in engines with a low degree of wear, ranging from 20% to 30%.

Benefits of 5W30 Oil

0w20 vs 5w30 fuel economy
Using 5W-30 Oil Will Result in Greater Fuel Economy.

1. Allows for a Smoother Start on Cold Mornings

A lighter weight oil flows faster, so 5W30 allows for a smoother start on cold mornings. This will lead to significantly less thickening as the engine starts.

2. It Reduces Oil Consumption

This will generate the least amount of pollution possible as there will be significantly less smoke and exhaust deposits.

3. Greater Fuel Economy

It boasts fuel economy because the lower the oil’s viscosity, the greater the fuel economy of your car or truck.

4. Boosts in Power Output

5W30 allows your engines’ high-pressure pumps to transfer oil with smaller high-pressure pumps. This will boost the power output.

5. Lower Friction

Lowering friction is vitally important for your engine. The tiny molecules of 5W30 oil will adhere to all of the engine components and thus improve friction over time.

Benefits Of 0W20 Engine Oil

1. Effectively Lubricates the Internal Combustion Engines

It effectively lubricates the internal combustion engines of cars, lorries, motorbikes, and other vehicles. 

2. Suitable in Cold Climates

You can use it in cold climates where nighttime temperatures can dip below freezing or throughout the winter months.

3. Excellent for Modern Gasoline-engine Cars

It is an excellent choice for modern gasoline-engine cars.

4. Helps Reduce Sludge Formation

This oil helps reduce engine deposits, sludge formation, and corrosion, protecting the engine from potential damage.

5. Excellent Thermal and Oxidation Stability

6. Improves Fuel Economy

Its synthetic viscosity is low, which improves fuel economy.

Again, what is the difference between 0W20 vs. 5W30? The 0w20 engine oil is a popular choice since it gives an excellent performance. In cold temperatures, 0w20 engine oil flows well due to its ability to maintain its viscosity.

5W30 vs. 0W20 Main Differences

Many car owners are still unaware of how important it is to select the right and recommended engine oil for their car. You should always avoid using oils that are incompatible with your car. 

We will go over the main differences between 0W20 and 5W30 engine oils and take four factors into account: viscosity, vehicles, fuel economy, and weather conditions:

1. Viscosity

0W20 Is Considered Multi-viscosity

The viscosity of 0W20 is 20. The lower the number, the thinner the oil’s viscosity is. Now, 0W20 is considered multi-viscosity. This is because it contains a certain number of particular additives. These additives will cause the oil’s viscosity to change in cold temperatures. 

The viscosity of 0W20 will increase in the summer. On the other hand, this soil’s viscosity decreases throughout the winter, so people prefer to use 0W20 in the summer.

5W30 oil Is a Multi-grade Motor Oil

If you use a 5W30 motor oil in your engine throughout the summer, the weather will certainly thin the oil and cause future harm. The viscosity level of the 5W30 is a 5. 

The lower the number, the better the cold start temperature will be, and the motor oil will be thinner. The 5W30 oil is also a multi-grade motor oil because it comes in two viscosity ratings.

2. 5W-30 Oil Is Suitable for Gasoline-powered Cars

The 5W30 oil is suitable for gasoline-powered cars, such as:

  • Small trucks,
  • Passenger cars,
  • SUVs, and
  • High-performance turbo vehicles.

The 0W20 is designed for four-wheel, commercial, and passenger cars. It is also suited for LPG-powered vehicles from later models.

3. Fuel Economy

0W20 Engine Oil Provides Exceptional Performance

Given that the 0W20 engine oil has a low viscosity, it provides exceptional performance and helps with fuel economy. It also has a thinner protective oil film in high temperatures, and when you go beyond fifty thousand miles, 

5W30 doesn’t have that. However, a thinner oil filter can be a problem if the internal combustion engine runs at high speed and with a heavy load.

10 to 12% Improved Efficiency

Your car’s engine will consume more oil and thus leads to poor fuel economy. The viscosity of 0W20 motor oil, on the other hand, is lower. This means that this oil will improve the efficiency of your car with time.

When you compare it to 5W30, the reduction is approximately 10 to 12%, which is significant.

4. Weather Condition

0W20 oil will flow freely in cold weather and much better than in hot weather. It will also be considerably smoother than 5W30 while maintaining the same viscosity. If the engine is running in cold temperatures, the 0W20 oil has an extremely low viscosity.

So, varying temperatures will have a greater impact on using 0W20 motor oil than 5W30 oil. The latter, however, can still perform well in both cold and scorching temperatures.

0W20 vs. 5W30 Performance 

Both Contain Minerals, Base Oil, and Additives

0W20 and 5W30 contain minerals, base oil, and additives in variable amounts and concentrations, just like any other motor oil. The base oil can be synthetic or semi-synthetic, which determines the oil’s quality. The additives also affect the overall efficiency of the oil.

0W39 Has Less Drag

Thinner oils, such as 0W20, have less drag, which means less friction and, over time, less wear. That is why it is a suitable option for test engines.

5W30 Provides More Protection for Cars Involved in Demanding Activities

When a car is designed for more demanding activities, however, thicker oils like 5W30 are more effective at providing protection. If you are going to drive in the mountains, for instance, heavier oils will help your car perform better.

Any abrasive particle that is too large for the thickness of the oil will wear off over time. Filters may be sufficient to keep the size of impurities to a minimum. You should still evaluate the thickness of the oil film because richer oils produce thicker films, which can hold more pollutants.

0W20 vs. 5W30 Mileage

0w20 vs 5w30 viscosity

0W20 Motor Oil Is Designed for High-mileage Cars

The 0W20 motor oil is specially designed for high-mileage cars. It is made with a proprietary blend of high-performance synthetic base stocks strengthened with a precise, well-balanced additive component system.

5W30 Motor Oil Is Made for Newer Cars

A high mileage 5W30 motor oil, on the other hand, is specially made for late-model or newer cars. It stretches for over 75,000 miles. 

Oil Leak Prevention

High-mileage motor oil will help prevent oil leaks and reduce burn-off, especially in old engines. This is all thanks to its unique ingredients and formulation.

More Expensive 0W20 Synthetic Engine Oil

Many car manufacturers are constantly switching to 0W20 synthetic engine oil to save the environment. However, because 0W20 oil might be slightly more expensive than 5W30, this still puts some people off as they opt to go for 5W30.

5W30 Oil Is Designed to Withstand Temperatures Below 22° F

The 5W30 oil is designed to withstand temperatures dropping below 22° F.

With that being said, we still expect to see many people using the 0W20 engine oil soon. This is because many oil suppliers are trying to reduce fuel consumption while also improving the efficiency of car engines:

0W20 Engine Oil5W30 Engine Oil
Thermal stability and good oxidationImproved thermal stability
Better protection against friction in normal driving circumstancesBetter protection against friction in harsh climates
Excellent start-up and lubrication Good lubrication and a slower start
Fuel usage is lower, but it is more expensiveLess costly and more widely available
Long lifespanIt prevents rust on different engine parts


Which Is Better Between 0W20 or 5W30?

Both are good, but 0W20 is the popular choice. It has a low viscosity, provides exceptional performance, and helps fuel economy. Moreover, compared to the 5W30 engine oil, it flows well even at low temperatures.

Also, it maintains the same level of consistency throughout an engine’s internal structure. 0W20 is thicker than 5W30 even when the ambient temperature gets too cold or too hot.

Is It Possible to Mix 5W30 with 0W20?

No. It is never a good idea to mix these two. The 5W20 is a thick synthetic oil, whereas the 0W20 is an organic oil. So they won’t blend in properly. Plus, at extremely cold temperatures, they certainly won’t function well. Oil efficiency will also be a problem for your engine.

Can I Use 5W30 Instead of 0W20?

Yes, you can substitute 0W20 for 5W30 and vice versa. There are some commonalities between these two oils as well. These oils have synthetic materials, which means they are very fluid. They also have great lubricating features, undoubtedly saving you a lot of money on gas. 

They have chemical stability as well. Both oils have a broad temperature range, so both are approved for modern internal use.

What Is the Difference Between 5W30 and 0W20 Engine Oils in Terms of Temperature?

The way they perform in cold weather. The synthetic 0W20 engine oil acts like 0W oil when cold and 0W20 oil when hot. At the same time, the 5W30 engine oil acts like 5W oil when it is cold and 30W oil when the weather is hot.

Conclusion – 0W20 vs 5W30

Car oils keep your engine cool and reduce wear and friction, so you should choose the right oil for your car.

0W20 is the top pick here, given the optimum performance it offers. Compared to 5W30, 0W20 flows well even at low temperatures while maintaining the same viscosity or semi-fluid consistency. 

Plus, 0W20 tends to be thicker than 5W30, especially when the ambient temperature gets too cold or hot.

Picking one of these two engine oils is difficult if you only consider one factor. As we laid out in this article, there are many factors to consider, such as the weather you’re driving in, the number of years your car’s engine has been running, and your goals and driving habits. 

Last but not least, always remember to change the engine oil regularly as it is essential for getting the best driving experience.

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