5w20 vs 10w30 – Difference and Comparison

What is 5w20?

5w20 is a low-viscosity oil used in low temperatures or cold temperatures. There is a specific meaning of the numbers before and after ‘w’. The number before the letter ‘w’ represents the oil’s viscosity at 0°F. The lesser the number is the better it is because it tells its capability to perform at lower temperatures. The numbers after the letter ‘w’ represent the capability of oil to perform at a high temperature of  212°F. The greater the number is the better it will perform at high temperatures. Overall, the combination makes 5w20 suitable for low-temperature areas. 

5w20 engine oil is used in cars that drive mostly in low-temperature locations. Its lower viscosity helps in reducing the friction and wear of engine components. It provides good protection in moderate climates too. Using it in high-temperature areas can be a bad choice as it becomes thin in high temperatures. It is recommended to use for gasoline and light-duty petrol engines. 

What is 10w30?

10w30 is a high viscosity oil perfectly suitable for high temperatures. The number before w represents the oil viscosity in lower temperatures. The lower the number is, the better its performance will be. Whereas the number after w represents the oil viscosity in high temperatures. The bigger the number is, the greater its performance will be. Overall, the combination of 10w30 makes it perfectly suitable for hot climates. 

It is used in high-load vehicles that drive in high-temperature areas. It can survive temperatures as high as 81°F as it remains stable. It does not cause much friction so it easily runs through critical engine parts. The consistency of 10w30 is similar to that of grease making it a perfect fit for high temperatures. It cannot be used as an alternative to 5w20 in low temperatures because of its thick consistency. It is used in vehicles with heavy-duty petrol and diesel engines. Engine parts like pistons are protected from creating engine deposits when 10w30 is applied. 

Difference Between 5w20 and 10w30

  1. 5w20 is suitable for low temperatures because of its thin consistency whereas 10w30 is suitable for high temperatures because of its thick consistency. 
  2. 5w20 is used in light-duty petrol and gasoline engines whereas 10w30 is used in heavy-duty petrol and diesel engines. 
  3. 5w20 becomes thin in high temperatures whereas 10w30 becomes thick in low temperatures. 
  4. Both of the oils cannot be used as an alternative to each other.
  5. 5w20 is a low viscosity oil whereas 10w30 is a high viscosity oil. 

Comparison Between 5w20 and 10w30

Parameter of Comparison5w2010w30
Type 5w20 is available as synthetic and conventional oil.10w30 is available in the synthetic, synthetic blend, and conventional (mineral oil) variants. 
Temperature Suitability5w20 works best in low temperatures and cold climates because of its thinness. 10w30 works best in high temperatures because of the thickness of the oil. 
Replacement with each other5w20 cannot be used as an alternative to 10w30 as it will get thin in high temperatures. 10w30 cannot be used as an alternative to 5w20 as it becomes thick in low temperatures. 
Thickness/ThinnessThin in high temperatures;Thin in low temperaturesThick in high temperatures;Thick in low temperatures


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44615136