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The 5W20 Oil Guide (What It Is + Uses + 4 FAQs)

October 27, 2021

5W20 oil is a popular multi grade oil known for its excellent start-up performance in cold temperature environments and for its engine protection properties.

But should you be using 5W-20 oil

In this article, we’ll examine 5W-20 oil in detail. 
We’ll look at how it differs from other viscosity grade oils, if it’s suitable for high mileage cars, and whether you can use it instead of 5W30 oil

This Article Contains: 

Let’s get started. 

What Does 5W-20 Mean In Oil?

5W20 oil is primarily a winter viscosity grade oil.   

The number immediately before the ‘W’ represents the oil viscosity at 0°F. The lower this number is, the better it will perform at low temperatures. 5W is a low viscosity rating that provides better engine performance and lubrication during winters.

The numbers after the ‘W’ (i.e., ‘20’) denote the oil viscosity at a high temperature of 212°F. The higher these digits are, the thicker your oil is — indicating how well it can successfully adhere to engine components at high temperatures. 

5W-20 oil is a relatively thin oil at very high temperatures, but it still provides decent protection and lubrication at a normal operating temperature in moderate climates. 

However, if you drive a lot in extremely higher temperature settings and hotter climates, you may want to switch to a higher oil viscosity grade.

So what is 5W-20 motor oil good for? Let’s take a look.

What Is 5W-20 Oil Good For?

As 5W-20 is a low viscosity oil, it’s best suited for cars that drive a lot in low temperatures and colder climates. It’s ideally recommended for light-duty petrol and gasoline engines, and can help with engine deposits and wear and tear problems. 

For a higher temperature climate, you may use 10W-30 as an alternative. 

Apart from its fantastic cold temperature performance, 5W-20 oil helps with the following:

Note: Despite these benefits, you should only use 5W-20 oil when recommended by your car manufacturer and mechanic. Using the wrong motor oil can cause serious harm to your engine and affect engine performance. 

Now, let’s look at some other frequently asked questions about 5W-20 oil and their answers. 

4 FAQs On 5W20 Oil

Here’s what you need to know about 5W-20 oil. 

1. How Is 5W-20 Different Than Other Oils?

When you compare 5W-20 to another winter viscosity grade oil like the 5W30 oil, there’s not much of a difference there. 5W30 oil may perform slightly better than 5W-20 in hotter climates due to its higher ‘30’ hot viscosity rating.

However, when compared to a higher temperature grade motor oil, like 10W-40, you may notice clear distinctions: 

5W-20 and 10W-40 are also very different viscosity grades and oil flows. 

2. Is 5W20 Oil A Synthetic Oil? 

5W-20 oil is available as conventional and synthetic variants. 

5W-20 conventional oil is made out of refined crude oil and several additives. It provides adequate performance at normal operating temperature and is recommended for engine protection and lubrication. 

5W-20 synthetic motor oil is made of synthetic base oil (refined and modified hydrocarbon atoms) and additives. The synthetic base oil and various additives make it comparatively more stable in hotter climates.

It can better handle extreme temperatures and help with engine cleanliness, protecting against engine wear and tear. Synthetic motor oil will also last longer when compared to conventional oil. 

5W-20 oil is also available as synthetic blend oil. Synthetic blend 5W-20 tends to be cheaper than synthetic motor oil, but it protects better and lasts longer than conventional oil. 

3. Can I Use 5W-20 Instead Of 5W30 Motor Oil?

5W-20 is a lightweight engine oil. 
Even though it’s very similar to 5W30 motor oil, you shouldn’t switch between the two.  

Using the wrong lubricants can be detrimental to your car’s engine parts. It can cause several problems like sludge formation and engine deposits, and even lead to engine wear. 

If your vehicle manufacturer’s manual recommends using 5W-20 oil, you should probably stick to it. 

While some vehicles are more versatile with their oil needs, most are designed and tuned to run on particular oil viscosity. Remember to check your oil’s product description to determine if it’s suitable for your car. 

If you accidentally add 5W-30 oil to your engine, you can simply reach out to your mechanic and get an oil change. It won’t lead to any immediate damage to your engine, but constant exposure may affect engine performance. 

4. Is 5W-20 Oil Good For High Mileage?

With high-mileage cars, you need to consider two factors before choosing a high mileage oil. They are:

While 5W-20 oil claims to help with fuel efficiency and reduce oil consumption, it also depends on your engine. An older engine will have a higher oil consumption rate, but it will also be more vulnerable to engine wear due to grinding gears. 

Ideally, 5W-20 should work as a high mileage oil as long as it suits your engine
If not, you can use a comparatively thicker oil like 5W-30 or a high mileage oil as an alternative. These protect your critical engine components without causing too much strain on engine parts. 

Closing Thoughts

5W-20 engine oil can be a great choice for your car. It offers a decent operating temperature range, helps with fuel efficiency and engine protection in colder climates, and boosts your fuel economy. 

The important thing to remember is to get a routine oil change and perform regular maintenance. This will help prolong your car’s engine life and prevent problems like engine deposits. 

If you’re looking for a reliable car maintenance solution, give RepairSmith a try! 

RepairSmith is a mobile car repair and maintenance service provider that offers competitive and upfront pricing. Their ASE-certified mechanics can help you with all your car maintenance needs, including getting an oil change service

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