0w30 vs 5w30 engine oil. What are the differences?

The engine oil is one of the most important fluids in your car, especially because the engine depends on it for its proper operation. With a few exceptions, the 0w30 vs 5w30 engine oil debate is a common subject for discussion among experts and regular drivers.

This article will give you an explanation of how these two types of engine oils differ and what to consider when making your decision on which one you want to buy. Furthermore, I will go a little bit into detail about the differences between both types on how they work in different conditions and how engines can be affected by them.

The most important differences between the 0w30 vs 5w30 engine oils are that 0w30 has a lighter viscosity than 5W30 engine oil. It will flow better at cold temperatures. In winter, the cold weather will make the engine oil become thicker as it becomes more viscous. A 5W30 engine oil is a better choice for engines that have slightly more mileage and has a better fuel consumption but don’t expect to be that much of a difference here, just about 1-2%.

The SAE technical fluid label classifies engine oils into groups. These groups are formed based on the climatic capabilities of the lubricants. There are three groups of car oils – winter, summer, and universal.

Read here more about engine oil properties

Both 0w30 and 5w30 are part of the universal category because they can be used in any season, and they need to be replaced at a certain interval, typically between 10000 km to 15000 km or 6200 miles to 9300 miles or when one year has passed since the last oil change

Oils from the first two categories have slowly disappeared because you would have needed to change the oil depending on the season so that implied wasted time and money.

Most often, 0w30 and 5w30 have a synthetic base, which ensures stable operation of the engine, helps to cope with overheating, and perfectly protects mechanisms from wear.

Differences between 0w30 and 5w30 engine oil

For 0w30, the operating temperature range is from -35 °C to + 30 °C or -31 °F to 86 °F, for 5w30 the temperature range is from -25 °C to + 30 °C or -13 °F to + 86 °F. This makes 0w30 to be a better option in winter.

Oils of the same standard may have a freezing point that differs by 6-7 degrees. The viscosity range for assigning a 0W standard is wide enough to cause this difference. Moreover, the obtained calculation does not indicate the impossibility of starting the engine at a temperature below. The engine should start successfully even at -35 °C or -31 °F on 5W oil, but the friction pairs of the motor, starter, pump, and other elements will receive a significant load.

5w30 engine oil provides better protection against wear than 0w30 because of its extra additive package. This means that less mechanical force is needed to overcome friction in the moving parts of the engine which keeps them from wearing out prematurely and making noise while driving.

5w30 has a slight advantage on fuel consumption over 0w30, but as I said above, this difference is not that significant.

Both oils ensure proper engine operation in all seasons conditions. It’s just that 0w30 has a slightly larger range.

When the engine is rather new a thinner oil like 0w30 can be used if the car manufacturer indicates it in the manual, but as the engine gathers miles due to long-term operation, the gaps between the mechanisms increase. Thus, the oil cannot provide the proper level of protection against subsequent wear, tear, and overheating anymore. 

This solution here is to use engine oil with a higher viscosity. So, it would be advisable to use the 0w30 composition for the first 6000 to 70000 miles, then if the indicator is exceeded, it is recommended to switch to a more viscous version like 5w30. This recommendation can be applied if it does not contradict the requirements of the car manufacturer.

At first glance you would say that the two types of oil are very similar, and you can replace one with another, but this is an error that I see drivers do a lot and the consequences can be serious.

You should be very careful at the manufacturer’s recommendations and apply them, and its prohibitions should be avoided. When the car manual states that only 0w30 is suitable, then it cannot be replaced with 5w30. Excessive viscosity can have a bad impact on the engine’s performance. The crankshaft will turn with great effort, the load on the engine will increase, overheating will appear, and fuel consumption will increase.

Another difference between 0w30 oil and 5w30 oil lies in the field of application. The first type is used most often in diesel cars with particulate filters. The second is in any type of motor.


When choosing either 0w30 or 5w30 you should take into account first of all the manufacturer’s recommendations. If it does not recommends one of these two types of oil then you should not add it into your engine at all. The car manual has a lot of valuable information about what oils are suitable for your engine

Another factor is climatic conditions. If you are living in a colder area, especially in winter, then 0w30 is a better option.

The condition of the engine. If the engine is not new anymore then you should consider using oil with a higher viscosity to ensure its proper protection and slow down its wear. In this case, the 5w30 has the upper hand.

Another important factor in my opinion is also the oil brand. There are a lot of brands out there and the quality of the produced engine oil differs significantly. You should only, as the first option, the OEM oil because most of the time the oil is of high quality. Also, there are a lot of good brands as well out there, but you should be careful at what types of additives they use.

Choosing a low-quality oil can have important consequences for your engine, either in the short term or in the long run.

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