Differences between 0w20 vs 5w40 engine oil

Motor oils come in a variety of brands, viscosities, and prices. The viscosity is an important consideration in all of these motor oils. Routine maintenance necessitates knowledge of the best oil for your engine to ensure peak performance.

So, which oil do you choose between 0w20 and 5w40 engine oils? Aside from your engine’s makeup, there are a number of other factors that influence the type of oil you use, including climate and weather. In this article, we will discuss the differences between these two oils. 

Continue reading for more information. 

About 0w20 and 5w40 engine oils

We can’t fully understand these motor oils unless we discuss what the number and letters mean. The letter ‘W’ stands for winter, and the numbers represent the viscosity of the oil (or thickness).

The first number before the letter “W” refers to the viscosity of the oil at cold temperatures. While the number after the letter “W” signifies the viscosity when your engine reaches normal operating temperatures. 

Although 5w40 is not as widely used as 0w20, it is engineered to protect the engine against sludge buildup, deposits, and damage.

Some users prefer 5w40 because it is less expensive and readily available compared to 0w20 synthetic oil. 0w20, on the other hand, is gaining popularity as it is increasingly being used in both new and existing vehicles. Its effectiveness speaks for itself, and this has drawn many people to it.

However, it is always a good idea to consult your owner’s manual to determine the recommended viscosity, but we will list the most important features of each motor oil.

Features of 0w20 engine oil

The viscosity grade 0w20 engine oil is becoming incredibly common for a wide range of vehicle types. Some of its features are listed below

  • 0w20 meets the API SN requirements 
  • It is approved by many vehicle manufacturers as a recommended oil
  • Reduces friction between moving components
  • Excellent cold startup
  • Good anti-wear and anti-corrosion properties 
  • Capacity to improve fuel efficiency
  • Highly recommended for use in cold environments
  • Excellent lubricating ability
  • Provides outstanding protection to the engine.
  • Long time between oil changes

Features of 5w40 engine oil

The 5w40 oil is a multi-viscosity oil with the following features. 

  • It ensures the engine is protected from deposit buildup
  • Covers a wide range of  temperatures
  • It provides wear protection
  • Outstanding lubricating properties 
  • This oil also meets all the API SN requirements
  • Recommended for a variety of vehicles with various engine types 
  • Prevent the engines from corroding
  • Ensures good cold starting and quick circulation in freezing temperatures 

What do 0w20 and 5w40 engine oils have in common?

In general, 0w20 and 5w40 have some similarities in terms of benefits, which include

  • They are both considered multigrade oil, which means they can perform well at high and low temperatures
  • They provide adequate lubrication for moving parts, resulting in improved engine performance
  • 0w20 and 5w40 are both high-quality synthetic oils that ensure protection against deposits 

Differences between 0w20 and 5w40 engine oils

Temperature range

The temperature range of 0w20 is -40 °C to 20 °C, making it ideal for cold climates, but also suitable for mild summers.

The operating temperature of 5w40 oil is between – 35 °C and 35 °C, indicating that it can be used in any season. The temperature range of 5w40 oil is significantly greater than that of 0w20 oil.


Both 0w20 and 5w40 are low-viscosity, high-quality synthetic oils intended for use in cold temperatures. The viscosity of 0w20 oil is 0 at cold temperatures and 20 at operating temperatures. The 5 in 5w40 indicates that the viscosity is 5 at cold temperatures and 40 at high temperatures.

Since 0W20 is less viscous than 5w40, it will flow through the engine better at cold temperatures. 5w40 has a higher viscosity and will function better with higher temperatures in summer. 

Fuel economy

5w40 has a poor fuel economy compared to 0w20. The lower the viscosity of the oil, the better the fuel economy because the lubricant flows more easily. Because the 0w20 is thinner and less viscous than the 5w40, it is thought to be more fuel-efficient. 

High mileage

For high mileage, 0w20 engine oil provides adequate mileage when used in conjunction with regular maintenance and normal driving habits.

Some mechanics advise using a higher viscosity oil – 5w40. 5w40 is often used in higher mileage engines. The heavier base weight oil creates a slightly thicker oil film, which can help protect worn engine bearings.

Keep engine clean

Both 0w20 and 5w40 oils are designed to provide protection for your vehicle. It accomplishes this by reducing high-temperature deposits on the cylinder walls, thereby keeping the engine cleaner. So in terms of keeping your engine clean, these two oils provide the same efficiency. 

When is it best to use 0w20 and 5w40 motor oils?

Although both oils are designed for use in cold climates, 0w20 is a better choice for those who live in colder climates. 

If you live in a region prone to freezing temperatures, 0W20 is without a doubt the best option. 0w20 also provides slightly less wear when starting the engine in extremely cold temperatures. Conversely, 5w40 has a higher viscosity, making it more preferable for use in warmer weather. 

Factor0w20 Engine Oil5w40 Engine Oil
ViscosityExhibits lower viscosity, resulting in swift flow and minimal friction within the engine.Has a higher viscosity, leading to slower flow and increased friction compared to 0w20​.
Fuel EfficiencyEnhances fuel efficiency due to decreased friction and better fluid dynamics​​.Its fuel efficiency isn’t as remarkable as 0w20 due to its slower fluid dynamics and higher viscosity​​.
Climate SuitabilityIdeal for extremely cold conditions, operating efficiently from -35°C and providing dependable lubrication up to 30°C​​.Performs better in high temperatures and under severe driving conditions, functioning seamlessly from -25°C and maintaining lubrication up to 40°C​​.
Usage in High Mileage VehiclesNot recommended for high mileage vehicles due to its tendency to leak from worn out seals and gaskets​.More suitable for high mileage vehicles as its thickness may reduce oil leaks. Some older vehicles are specifically designed to use conventional oil, available in 5w-40 viscosity​​.
CostThe cost of 0w-20 full synthetic oil typically falls between $25 and $40. It’s usually a bit cheaper than 5w-40 due to its narrower viscosity range​​.The cost of 5w-40 full synthetic oil generally ranges from $30 to $45, and it’s likely to be $5 more expensive per quart than 0w-20 because of its wider viscosity range​​.
Intended UseRecommended for use in contemporary gasoline-powered vehicles like passenger cars, light trucks, and SUVs. There’s a growing trend towards lighter oils like 0w-20 among manufacturers​​.Advised for vehicles exposed to high temperatures and those involved in heavy-duty operations. It’s designed to guard the engine under severe driving conditions and can resist oxidation and maintain thermal stability as temperatures climb​​.


Engine oil is critical to the performance of your engine, so choose wisely. The right grade oil for your vehicle allows for faster start-up flow, easier lubrication of parts, faster engine warm-up, and better fuel economy.

When these two oils were compared, it was discovered that 0w20 is preferred by the majority of users. 0w20 is far more sought after because it is considered to be more efficient and suitable for cold climates.

However, it is more expensive and not readily available. 5w40 has a broader temperature range and is also effective in terms of performance. 

Based on the information provided, you can select the best option for your needs. To find the proper oil for your vehicle, always refer to your owner’s manual. If both options are on the list, go ahead and use them.

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