5W20 vs 5W30: The Best Motor Oil for Your Car and What You Need to Know
Manufacturers do not produce motor oil for it to fit in all kinds of vehicles and situations. Many vehicles have varying needs depending on their model, temperature, and geographic location.
However, differentiating between motor oils can be challenging. That is why you have questions like the 5W20 vs 5W30 popping out. Car owners tend to be unsure, and that’s fine. Today, we’ll give you all the things you need to know about these two motor oils. Stick around to find out more!
Motor Oil 101: Important Things to Remember
To better understand motor oil, let’s use our body as an example. Similar to a car, our body also comes with complex material, mostly minerals. Moreover, the human body works in an interconnected and intricate system.
These interconnected and complex principles are applied similarly to our vehicles. We have the cerebral, circulatory, digestive, nervous, and skeletal systems. On the flip side, our vehicles have the engine, transmission, electrical, and chassis as its primary working systems.
Despite the differences of these, each system requires an agent to ease out its friction, wear, and more importantly, heat. In our case, our body needs a fluid intake to keep our activity efficient and vigorous.
Thus, engine oil isn’t engineered to be a simple fluid. It’s a composition of many substances that are primarily oil-based. The catch here, however, is that the base oils have a lot of additives to it.
In fact, it has a ton of additives to meet specific demands of your car. It can be an anti-corrosive element, a thickening agent for viscosity, dispersants, and much more. That is why companies manufacture motor oil using a lot of compounds.
Rubbing Compound Guide You May Enjoy here: https://automotiveward.com/best-rubbing-compound/
The Single vs. Multi Grade Oil
Now that we got the basics done when it comes to motor oil, we can now shift our focus closer to the point of this article. If we’re trying to understand the differences and advantages of 5W20 and 5W30, we’ll need to concentrate on the two distinctions of motor oil.
For starters, it’s important to understand that the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) initiates the single and multi-grade classification of oils. This classification is a numerical index that they base on the viscosity of each type.
First, let’s talk about the single grade oils. These are oils that are mostly single-based. That means that you cannot give them additives, the most notable is a polymer which enhances viscosity or modifies it in general.
So, how does SAE determine and classify these motor oils? For one, they created two types of measurements. The first one is the viscosity of the engine oil when you expose this to cold temperature.
That can you can notice in their coding as “W”. The letter W stands for winter, indicating that the message pertains to the performance of the engine oil during cold temperatures. The performance, on the other hand, is based on the oil’s travel time throughout the system.
Before the winter rating, there is a digital number. That binary number indicates the weight of the oil. So the higher the weight, the heavier the oil is.
For example, if the engine oil travels at a much slower pace during cold temperatures, then it will have higher viscosity. That’s because it’s thicker during low temperature.
On the other hand, the faster it travels, the lower the viscosity. In fact, this makes it smoother. Remember, the lower the viscosity, the better it can pass through colder temperatures. With that said, some of the leading high viscosity numerical codes are 0W, 5W, and 10W.
This grading is handed out via trial and error with the product. If the engine oil passes through a 5W and 10W grade, but not at a 0W, then it would be labelled as 5W.
Now let’s shift to the multi grade oils, which is really where the 5W20 and 5W30 belong. Single grade oils, as mentioned earlier, cannot be modified. On the other hand, multi grade oils can be.
This modification is born out of the necessity to bring viscosity levels closer when temperatures are fluctuating. Meaning, in a single grade engine oil, the viscosity significantly differs during cold and hot temperatures.
Since we’ve discussed the single grade already, it’s a lot easier to understand the multi grade oils. The main reason for this is that SAE simply added a new number after the winter rating.
Now, using the 5W20 and 5W30 as an example, let’s see how this grading works. First, imagine the two as single grade oils. That means if they’re under that classification, they’re essentially the same at 5W.
However, the next number is what distinguishes them. The numbers 20 and 30 indicate their performance when temperatures rise. Notably, SAE used 100 degrees Celsius (or 242 degrees Fahrenheit) as the basis for this figure.
The principle here is that the lower the number, the thinner the engine oil is at that temperature. Meaning, during a long drive in summer, the 5W20 will lubricate and spread out faster than the 5W30.
Wrap Up: 5W20 vs 5W30 – Advantages and Disadvantages?
These two engine oils are better used depending on what your car’s manual instructs you. However, using its principles, we can find a clear-cut advantage of the two. For one, the 5W20 oil is ideal if you want better fuel efficiency.
That is because the oil spreads out faster, allowing it to reach the engine that’s responsible for combustion of the fuel. However, as soon as it reaches it, it’s also faster to thin out and disintegrate in hotter temperatures.
That’s where the 5W30 comes into play. It travels slower; making its life inside the engine is also longer. So, it causes it to be more capable of protecting the motor. The battle boils down to fuel efficiency vs engine oil longevity.
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