5w30 vs 10w30: Which one Should You use?

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Motor oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. So ensuring you have enough and the correct type of motor oil inside your engine is crucial to the health and longevity of your car.

Unfortunately, choosing the best oil is not always easy. With the confusing numbers and letters in the name, it can be hard to determine the difference between each motor oil.

5w30 and 10w30 are two of the most common motor oils used on the market today. So how do you decide which one to use?

Don’t worry; I’m here to help. In this post, I will tell you the difference between 5w30 and 10w30 motor oil and when you should use each one.

Let’s get started.

5w30 vs. 10w30: What's the Difference?

The short answer is that the only difference between 5w30 and 10w30 engine oil is their low-temperature performance.

At lower temperatures, 5w30 is thinner, and 10w30 is thicker.

This means that 5w30 has a wider working temperature making it more versatile. The 5w30 is better for cold weather than 10w30.

5w30 and 10w30 both perform similarly at high temperatures.

5w30’s maximum operating temperature is around 86 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, the maximum operating temperature of 10w30 motor oil is around 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

5w30 vs. 1030: Which One Is Better?

Your choice of motor oil between 5w30 vs. 10w30 will depend on the conditions and the type of vehicle you are driving. Each motor oil performs differently in different conditions. 

Some key conditions you should consider when choosing your motor oil include: 

  • Temperature / Weather
  • Size/ Load 
  • Mileage


Temperature / Weather

If you live in an area that experiences cold temperatures year-round or during winter, then 5w30 is the best option. This is because 5w30 performs better during cold temperatures than 10w30 and is much more effective at cold starts. 

In hotter temperatures, you want to use 10w30 over 5w30. This is because the viscosity of the 10w30 can operate at higher temperatures. 

10w30 is better during summer or in regions that are warmer year-round, such as California, Texas, and New Mexico. 


Size / Load 

5w30 is also more effective on lighter loads or smaller load vehicles. In contrast, 10w30 is more effective and can handle larger vehicles or heavier loads. 



You can use 5w30 and 10w30 on vehicles with high mileage. Typically when buying, you want to purchase oil with the high mileage designation. 

5w30 and 10w30 are both made with the high mileage designation. High mileage oil is made for cars with more than 75,000 miles. 

In some cases, you might want to use thicker oil such as 5w30 to reduce the chances of engine leaks. 

When To Use 5w30 Motor Oil?

You should use 5w30 in colder climates. The higher viscosity at lower temperatures allows it to perform better in cold temperatures.

5w30 allows your car to start easier during colder temperatures. If you live in regions where it often reaches below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, then 5w30 is a great option.

Likewise, 5w30 motor oil is also ideal for smaller loads or smaller cars. The viscosity of 5w30 allows smaller engines to perform better than using 10w30.

5w30 is the most recommended motor oil by professionals due to its versatility. 5w30 can be used in almost any engine, including passenger cars, small vans, SUVs, trucks, and turbo-enhanced vehicles.

When to Use 10w30 Motor Oil?

10W30 is a great oil for most people. This oil performs well in hot weather. It has a high operating temperature of degrees Fahrenheit.

It also performs well in cold starting temperatures and can reduce wear and tear on most casual driving vehicles.

10w30 is also a great option if you’re on a budget. 10w30 is more common and easier to find than 10w40, making it less expensive.

10w30 is the second most popular motor oil option due to its versatility. It works well in cold and hot weather and can be used in a variety of vehicles without any issues. 

Which Motor Oil Is Thicker 5w30 Or 10w30?

10w30 is thicker than 5w30 in cold weather. You can determine this due to the number before the “W”. The smaller the number, the thinner the oil is.

In this case, that means that 5w is thinner than 10w during cold weather. You might think that you always want a thicker oil. During winter, thinner oil performs better because it allows the engine to start faster and easier due to less friction.

At high temperatures, 10w30 and 5w30 have the same viscosity or thickness. This means they perform equally during high temperatures. With one exception being that 5w30 has a slightly higher operating temperature than 10w30.

Is 5w30 or 10w30 better for Car's with High Mileage

10w30 is typically considered better for cars with high mileage because it’s thicker than 5w30 at low temperatures.

If you are driving in hot weather, then both the 10w30 and 5w30 perform very similarly for high mileage vehicles. 5w30 has a slight upper hand because it’s slightly thicker and has a higher operating temperature.

Both 10w30 and 5w30 work great on high mileage cars.

Thicker oil provides a better seal and reduces the chance of a leak. Thinner oil is more likely to leak, especially in a ca with high mileage. Car’s with high mileage are more likely to wear and tear, resulting in oil leaks.

Should I use 5w30 or 10w30 During Summer?

During the summer, both 5w30 and 10w30 perform nearly identical. Both are ideal for operating at high temperatures.

5w30 has a slight advantage in operating temperature with a maximum temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, 10w30 only has a maximum operating temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you live in a region that frequently reaches temperatures above 95 degrees, you might opt for 5w30. On the other hand, if you typically experience temperatures lower than 95 degrees, then both 10w30 and 5w30 are a great option during the summer.

Can you mix 5w30 and 10w30?

Yes, it’s typically safe to mix 5w30 and 10w30 motor oil. In addition, you can typically mix motor oils together without causing harm to your vehicle.

In particular, 5w30 and 10w30 are safe to mix because they have very similar viscosity. Combining 5w30 with an engine running 10w30 motor oil will not change to overall viscosity inside the engine. Likewise, combining 10w30 with an engine running 5w30 motor oil will have the same result.

Combining motor oil that has drastically different viscosity can cause issues in your engine. For example, combining 20w50 and 5w30 will change the overall viscosity inside the engine and cause some issues.

What Does The "W" Represent In 10w30 And 5w30?​

The “w” in 10w30 and 5w30 is an indicator for the first number.

This means that the first number represents the viscosity at winter temperatures.

10w30 and 5w30 are both multi-grade oils which means a “w will always follow the first number.”

There are single-grade oils that only have a single number, such as 20w or 30. These oils are only made for a single temperature.

The “w” will tell you if it’s made for winter, oils without a “w” are made for summer.

What Does The First Number Represent in 10w30 and 5w30?

What Does The First Number Represent in 10w30 and 5w30?

The first number is the only difference between 10w30 and 5w30 motor oil. This is because the first number represents the oil’s viscosity at winter temperatures.

5w30 has a smaller value than 10w30, which means it has a higher viscosity or is thinner than 10w30 during winter temperatures.

5w30 is the preferred motor oil if you are driving in cold winter temperatures. This is because, at lower temperatures, you want thinner oil. Thinner oil makes it easy for your engine to start at low temperatures.

What Does the second number mean in 10w30 and 5w30?

The second number in multi-grade oils such as 10w30 and 5w30 represents the viscosity of the oil at summer temperatures.

Summer temperatures or hotter temperatures typically refer to temperatures greater than 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is typically regarded as the viscosity of the oil when the engine is running.
The larger the second the number, the more viscous it is at higher temperatures.

This means that 10w30 and 5w30 have the same viscosity at higher temperatures. 

As a result, both provide the same protection against metal-to-metal contact and fuel efficiency.

Although they have the same viscosity 5w30 performs slightly better at high temperatures. This is because 5w30 has an operating temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit while 10w30 has a maximum operating temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  

What is viscosity?

Viscosity is a liquid’s resistance to flow.

The difference between motor oil such as 10w-30 and 10w40 is all about viscosity. Before we move on, it’s essential to understand what viscosity means.

When a liquid is less viscous, it flows faster and thus has less resistance to flow. Likewise, when a liquid is more viscous, it flows slower and thus has more resistance to flow.
For example, water is more viscous than honey because it flows faster.

If you were to pour 1 cup of water and 1 cup of honey into a container, the water would fill the container much faster.

The same applies to motor oil. In this case, 10w30 is more viscous than 10w40 at higher temperatures.

How Is Motor oil graded?

Oil is graded on the SAE J300 standardized scale. This sale classified oil based on its viscosity at different temperatures.

There are typically two numbers in each oil’s grading system. The first number is followed by a “W”.

The first number represents the oil’s viscosity at winder or cold temperatures.

This is typically the viscosity when you are starting your vehicle. Winter temperatures include any temperature below 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

The second number represents the oil’s viscosity at summer or hot temperatures. 

This is the viscosity when the engine is running. Summer temperatures include any temperature greater than 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees.

Each number is is given ascending grades from: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 and 60.

Oil with two values are multi-grade oil designed to perform all year – during winter and summer. 

Oil with only one number is considered a single-grade oil. These oils are only intended to operate during either summer or winter and not both.

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