What’s the difference between 5w20 and 5w30 oil?

So, I know that there are different motor oil ratings and such—for instance, I know my car uses 5w20 oil—but I don’t know what the difference between ratings is. What’s the difference between 5w20 oil and, say, 5w30 oil?

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Answer provided by
Andrew (Andy) Biro
Answered on Apr 28, 2022
This is an important question to ask! Ultimately, the difference between 5w20 oil and 5w30 oil comes down to their viscosity (or thickness), particularly once the engine reaches normal operating temperature.
While 5w20 oil and 5w30 oil have the same winter rating—meaning they exhibit the same viscosity in cold weather—they do not have the same viscosity when exposed to high temperatures.
When your engine runs for a few minutes and reaches an operating temperature of 212℉, 5w20 oil will be much thinner and flow with more ease than 5w30 oil, which remains thicker and flows with more resistance.
When used in their respective engines, these oils work without issue—5w20 oil operates with ease and works well even in cold weather, while 5w30 oil provides more protection and operates best under higher temperatures.
It is never recommended to use an oil weight different from the one recommended by your owner’s manual.
Filling your engine with the right oil helps keep it working at peak efficiency—make sure it and the rest of your vehicle is protected by the right insurance policy. Jerry, the super app for car insurance, makes it easy to compare affordable rates, saving the average user $887 a year on their car insurance payments.

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