5W30 vs 10W30 Engine Oil Viscosity: Which Oil is Better?

Whether you’re looking for motorcycle oil or car engine oil, it can be overwhelming finding the right one for your vehicle. Even in the owner’s manual, there’s usually more than one recommendation.

When you’re checking what type of oil to use, you’re probably going to see more than one type. It’s even more difficult when you have to choose between two similar types, such as 5W30 and 10W30.

Both of these oils are very similar and do an excellent job for both lubricating and protecting the engine. However, the confusing part when it comes to choosing between them stems from a lack of understanding what these oils are and what sets them apart.

In this post, we’re going to look at each of these different types so you can have a better idea of the main differences. You’ll also be more informed on which is the best for your engine and whether or not you should be listening to the recommendations in the owner’s manual.

5W30 vs 10W30: What Do the Numbers Mean?

The main difference between these two oils is the viscosity. However, there is only a difference when you’re looking at the low or cold temperature viscosity.

From the rating, the operating temperature viscosity is the same. The numbers you see relate to the viscosity of the two engine oils. To make sure you know what you’re buying, it’s important to understand what these numbers mean.

5W is the low-temperature viscosity of the 5W30 oil. This is half of the 10W viscosity you get with the 10W30 oil at low temperatures.

Having the lower viscosity rating makes the 5W30 oil an excellent choice for cold weather. This helps to ensure an easier start up and better lubrication in these extreme winter temperatures.

The higher viscosity rating, 10W, of the 10W30 oil at a lower temperature means that it will thicken faster in cold weather. Compared to the 5W30, it won’t lubricate as effectively, though it should still be able to handle colder temperatures fairly well.

Ideal Working Temperature

When you’re looking at the differences between 5W30 and 10W30 engine oils, it’s important to also consider the climate you’ll be driving in. These oils are formulated specifically to operate optimally in different temperature ranges.

5W30 Engine Oil

With a working temperature of -30 to 35 degrees Centigrade, the 5W30 is more appropriate for colder areas and average, humid summers. This is an oil that will provide excellent lubrication and easy starts even during the harshest cold winter weather conditions.

Even as the temperature has dropped to as low as -30 degrees Centigrade, this oil will continue to work effectively. It’s also a great choice for warmer temperatures up to 35 degrees Centigrade.

Using a 5W30 oil would work well in both hot and cold weather conditions. Those of you living in most Western and Northern climates will find this oil to be suitable.

Don’t forget to refer to your owner’s manual to see what they recommend. This is where you’ll be able to find the most helpful information on choosing the right oil for your vehicle.

10W30 Engine Oil

Although 10W30 doesn’t offer the same working temperature range, it’s still good enough to use in most weather conditions and environments. This is an engine oil that can be used in temperatures as low as -18 degrees Centigrade.

It’s also a good choice for warmer temperatures and can be used up to 30 degrees Centigrade. Those of you living in generally warmer climates without harsh winters will find this oil to be ideal, as long as it’s recommended.

Keep in mind that the actual temperature range with either oil type depends on the model that you buy. Most manufacturers will use additives as well, which can increase or lower the working temperature noticeably.

When to Use Which Oil

Deciding between 10W30 v.s. 5W30 depends on how you intend on using the oil. Each oil is ideal for different conditions and vehicles.

Looking at the difference in operating temperature and viscosity should give you a better idea when to use each of these oils. Although they’re typically used for similar applications, there are certain conditions where one would be better than the other.

When to Use 5W30

Using 5W30 would be ideal if you’re doing a lot of cold weather driving. The oil is thin enough so it can get into the different parts of the engine, even during cold weather conditions, to ensure easy startups.

Thanks to the thinner nature of this oil, your vehicle will better maintain optimal performance during the winter. It’s also a good idea to use 5W30 with light duty diesel or gas vehicles, because the lower viscosity doesn’t require as much power to move it around the engine.

When to Use 10W30

While it’s still possible to use 10W30 oil in your vehicle during cold weather without any problems, due to the higher viscosity it’s better suited for warmer weather. It’s also more appropriate for heavy load for commercial vehicles with larger and more powerful Engines.

The 10W30 is able to easily circulate through a bigger engine without causing any strain. It’s also a good choice for older engines or those that use special tools, like biodiesel.

The reason to use 10W30 for older engines is that it provides a better sealing capacity. This means it’s more effective at protecting older engines and the moving components compared to 5W30.


Most people doing their own oil changes already have a specific engine oil that they like to use. On the other hand, people will typically only use what the vehicle manufacturer or mechanic recommends.

That’s why when it comes to choosing between 5W30 and 10W30, many drivers generally don’t have any idea what to buy. Thankfully, it’s not a complicated affair to choose between these different engine oils.

There’s only a few factors you need to understand, including the viscosity, working temperatures, and the ideal uses. With this in mind, 5W30 is a better choice if you’re looking for an oil with thin enough viscosity to use in cold weather and wider working temperatures. It’s the best option for light-duty diesel and gas vehicles.

On the other hand, 10W30 is a great choice to use during warmer weather and in heavy duty or commercial vehicles. The sealing capability of 10W30 also makes it a better choice for older, high-mileage engines.

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