Can I Use 5w20 Instead Of 5w30? Explained

While picking the best oil for colder weather, one might get stuck between the choices 5w20 and 5w30. We all have been there. If you’re going through the same occurrence and trying to find answers to the questions, can I use 5w20 instead of 5w30? We want to help you with the information you need. 

Simply, no! Although it’s a tricky question that comes with a bunch of potential answers, our overall judgment stands negative depending on the difference between the jobs the oils are used for and the viscosity difference.

Although it’s a tricky question that comes with a bunch of potential answers, our overall judgment stands negative depending on the difference between the jobs the oils are used for. If you want to know everything at length, then keep reading. 

What Happens If You Use 5w20 Rather Than 5w30?

Nothing major will happen. This mistake won’t cause any harm to the engine directly, but it would definitely cause some issues to some specific components. Here’s why:


Although 5w30 goes well with most vehicles, 5w20 isn’t good with that amount of cars. So, it’s obvious that your car won’t act right if you use 5w20 instead of 5w30. 


Viscosity is a significant factor to think about. While 5w20 comes with a low viscosity of grade 5, 5w30 is a grade oil that offers you higher consequences regarding the fact. On the bright side, you will get fuel efficiency and better performance in cold areas due to the lower viscosity of 5w20.

Oil Flow

If you use 5w20 instead of 5w30, the oil won’t be able to flow thoroughly through your vehicle

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to protect the engine’s internal parts. That happens due to the inappropriate temperature and vehicle type mostly since each oil is specified to deal with different ones.

Imbalance In Temperature

Using the wrong oil will put an end to flow perfectly when the temperature drops for any reason. Your vehicle won’t be able to face any high seasonal temperature fluctuations. 

No Extra hours

Your vehicle won’t be specified for more extended travelling hours if you use 5w20 rather than 5w30.

Significant Difference Between 5w20 and 5w30 Motor Oil

5w30 being popular can’t stop people from confusing 5w20 and 5w30 with each other. You might get either one, but not thinking about the consequences doesn’t lead to anything good.

The perfect grade oil for you would be decided by analyzing your requirements of yours. So while getting the oil for your car, you need to consider two major factors:

  • The temperature of the environment you drive your car regularly at
  • The viscosity requirements the manual says about

To make the whole deal easier for you to figure out your ideal kind grade, we’re about to present the table of major differences between those oils. 

Fuel Efficiency Performs exceptionally during freezing temperatures with great fuel efficiency Low at fuel efficiency, not so good at performing in freezing temperatures 
Viscosity Less dense and thin. Capable of flowing faster without friction. More viscosity, thicker, and flows slowly due to friction.
Weight Lesser in weight. The specialty of the oil is it’s much thinner and lighter than the other grade oils. Greater in weight. The weight is specially specified for hot weather. 
Exposure to high temperature It can’t keep up with higher temperatures for longer; it breaks down fastOverall engine protection 
Engine Performance Works on starting the engine fast in cooler weather Turn on the engine late in a cooler climate
Suitable Environment WinterSummer

In-depth Comparison: 5w20 vs 5w30

Let’s jump into more details between the two of them. That way, you’ll gather more knowledge and get rid of the confusion you have in your mind.

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The 5w30 is meant to offer superior performance in hotter climates. Besides, it also comes with a thick formulation to keep the engine fine to resist the more incredible heat.

5w20 gets outstanding performance in colder climates. The 5w20 starts the engine really quick in cold temperatures, including no higher viscosity and no greater friction. 

Fuel Economy

Compared to o 5w30, 5w20 is a less viscous oil, while the other one is pretty rich at allowing smoother circulation around your vehicle’s engine parts. So, it can impact reducing horsepower and fuel economy more effectively than 5w20. 

The fact that the oils are slightly different from each other prevents them from showing much difference in fuel economy. 

Motor Oil Weight

5w20 weighs 20 in winter with a lower viscosity rating. The thinner weight helps it get your car out of freezing situations safely.

Although 5w30 shows the same rating during winter, that increases to higher viscosity during summer, in higher temperatures. The oil would weigh 30 in summer. The thicker weight is for resisting the temperature during hotter days. 

Operating Temperatures

The critical difference between the oils is most noticeable when it comes to operating temperature. The oil with thinner viscosity, 5w20, is excellent at handling lower temperatures. On the other hand, 5w30 has proven to be extremely capable of operating at higher temperatures. 

You will find the 5w20 oil flowing smoothly and in seconds during winter days. The thicker one would flow freely, not in colder temperatures but in higher temperatures; the reason is its thick formulation. 

Are 5w20 and 5w30 Oil Synthetic? 

You’re offered to enjoy both synthetic and conventional variants along with both of the oils. 

Conventional oil is actually for offering you more excellent fuel economy, better protection against friction, and prevents the engine of your vehicle from being damaged. So it’s pretty apparent the 5w30 would be playing best as the role of conventional oil. 

Synthetic motor oil is impressive for offering reliability and stability during out-of-hand temperatures. It does so well with higher temperatures that experts certify 5w20 synthetic oil to do much better during hotter days than conventional 5w30. 

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However, both the oils are available in synthetic variations. 5w30 artificial variation works excellent too. So, which one would be best for you will totally depend on you and your vehicle’s engine requirements? 

Can You Mix 5w20 and 5w30 Oils?

Many people try mixing 5w30 and 5w20 up to experience even better performance than performing individually. 

It offers faster wear and tear than ever. But most mechanics would forbid you to do so since many car engines tend not to allow this. Moreover, the number of risks it can bring isn’t that poor. 

Mixing the oils up can even cause issues with functioning your engine sometimes. So, it’s better not to do so unless you’re very sure about the requirements of your machine and your vehicle’s engine shows a green flag to the idea. 

5w20 Vs 5w30: Which Oil Is Better? 

Depending on the vehicle’s temperature requirements, the oils will perform well only when you choose 5w20 for colder and 5w30 for the warmer environment.

After our detailed discussion above, you could acknowledge by now that 5w20 is oil for colder climates while 5w30 is for hotter summer days. Even both of them come in conventional and synthetic variations so that you can defeat the temperature issue too. 


This oil is specified to be used on freezing days during winter. It’s a lightweight, thinner oil that can offer convenience for a faster start-up even in cold temperatures. It is the best choice for engines that do not get too hot. 


People mostly love this oil because of its excellent compatibility with hot summer days. The way it protects your engine from extreme heat is remarkable. The conventional variation is for hotter days. 

Neither of the oils can fit in with the opposite of the task they’re meant to do. Both are excellent in their own respective places. So, you can choose a winner of yours based on the benefits you’re looking for. 

Wrapping Up

To sum up the answer to your question, can I use 5w20 instead of 5w30 would always be no because the oils are perfect for what they’re meant to do but not for an exact opposite situation. You can go with the 5w20 if you intend to drive during freezing days and 5w30 if you’re a driver during extreme temperatures. 

We hope we’ve cleared the whole fact properly and you will come up with a conclusion without damaging your vehicle’s engine. 

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Brian Polk

Brian is an automotive expert who has 12 years of experience in the industry. He has worked on a variety of cars, from high-end luxury vehicles to budget-friendly options, and has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. He is passionate about automobile and enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, whether they are looking to purchase a new motorized vehicle or simply learn more about the inner workings of these machines. In his free time, Brian enjoys working in his automobile workshop and spending time at the track.

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