Car Care

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

5W30 vs. 10W30

Trying to choose oil for your vehicle is often quite overwhelming given the almost countless options available out there. And this is regardless of the vehicle make or model that you are driving.

Things become even confusing when you have to choose between two quite similar types like 5W30 and 10W30. Besides being quite similar, both oil types do an excellent job when it comes to engine lubrication and protection.

But, the difficulties in choosing between these two oils often stem from a lack of understanding of what they are and what sets them apart. In this piece, we aim to change this with a side by side comparison, and by highlighting the pros and cons of each.

What Do the Numbers Mean?

Viscosity is one of the first and most important differences between these oils. However, this is only so when looking at the low or cold temperature viscosity because from their rating, it is clear that the operating temperature viscosity is the same.

The viscosity of the two engine oils is what the numbers are used to indicate, and hence to ensure you know what you are buying it is important that you first understand what these numbers mean.

5W is the low-temperature viscosity of the 5W30 oil which is half of the 10W you get on the 10W30 oil at low temperatures. The lower viscosity is what makes 5W30 an excellent oil for cold weather as it will ensure easy start-up and good lubrication in these extreme temperatures.

While the higher viscosity of 10W30 at a low temperature means it will thicken faster in cold weather, and hence not lubricate very well, it should still be able to handle low temperatures fairly well.

Ideal Working Temperature


When trying to choose between the 5W30 and 10W30 engine oils, you will also need to consider the climate or more specifically the typical temperature of the area you use your vehicle. And this is because these oils are formulated to operate optimally at different temperature ranges.


5W30 has an ideal working temperature of -30 to 35 degrees centigrade, which means it will be more appropriate for colder areas and use during the summer.

This oil is formulated to handle the harshest cold weather as it will provide excellent lubrication and easy start even when the temperatures drop to as low as -30 degrees centigrade.

And contrary to what many motorists might easily assume, 5W30 is still an excellent choice for warmer temperatures as it will work well for temperatures up to 35 degrees centigrade. Hence, this oil is perfect for both hot and cold weather.


While 10W30 might not offer a working temperature range that is as wide as what you get with the 5W30, it will still be good enough for use in a wide variety of environments.

This oil can be used effectively at temperatures as low as -18 degrees centigrade and also withstand warmer temperatures of up to 30 degrees centigrade.

Note: The actual temperature range that you get with either oil types will also be highly dependent on the specific model that you buy. And this is because many manufacturers tend to add additives to their oils, which can lower or increase the working temperature significantly.

When to Use Which


The choice between 5W30 and 10W30 is also highly depended on how you intend to use the oil as they will be ideal for different kinds of vehicles and conditions.

The difference in viscosity and operating temperature should give you some idea of what each of these oils will be best for, and this is despite the fact they are typically used for similar applications.


The lower viscosity of 5W30 will be perfect for use in cold weather as the oil is thin enough to get into different parts of the engine even in cold weather and to ensure easy startups. The thinner nature of this oil will ensure your vehicle maintains optimal performance in winter.

Also, 5W30 is more ideal for use on the light-duty diesel or petrol vehicles because the lower viscosity means that it will not require a lot of power to move it around the engine.


Although it is possible to use 10W30 on your vehicle in cold weather and still get it to start easily, this oil is best suited for warmer weather due to the higher viscosity.

10W30 will also be more appropriate for heavy-load or commercial vehicles which often have larger and more powerful engines that can easily circulate the thicker oil without causing any strain.

This oil is also the better of the two types for the old engines and also for those that use special fuel like biodiesel engines. With the greater sealing capability, 10W30 will be more effective at protecting the older engines than 5W30.


Many motorists already have a specific engine oil that they prefer to use. However, in many instances, most will only use what their mechanic or vehicle manufacturer recommends. Hence, when it comes to picking between 5W30 and 10W30, many motorists will not have an idea of what to buy.

Choosing between these two amazing engine oils should not be a complicated affair as you only need to understand a few factors such as their viscosity, working temperatures, and ideal uses.

Using these factors, the 5W30 is your go-to oil when you want something that has a thin enough viscosity for use in cold weather, wider working temperatures and is ideal for light-duty diesel or petrol vehicles.

10W30 is the perfect choice if you want something for use in warmer weather, and the heavy load and commercial vehicles. Also, the greater sealing capability makes this your best bet if you have an older engine.

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