0w30 Vs. 5w30 – The Key Differences

Engine oil performs several functions, primarily protecting the engine’s moving parts against wear and tear. The lubricant also cleans, prevents corrosion, and cleans the engine. You need to get the right oil depending on your driving conditions. As a car enthusiast, you probably have engaged in the 0w30 vs. 5w30 oil discussion.

The two lubricant varieties have varying viscosity levels, with 5w30 being heavier than 0w30. Read on to understand their differences and areas of use.


Chart Showing How 0w30 and 5w30 Differ

This cart will highlight the major points where and how these two engine oils Vary. This can help you decide quickly which version is right for you.

Aspect 0W30 Engine Oil 5W30  Engine Oil
Viscosity at Low Temperatures Excellent flow and so, suitable for very cold climates.       Good but not as low as 0W-30. Suitable for cold climates.
Cold Start Performance Provides quick and easy starts in frigid conditions. Good but not as quick as 0W-30.
Viscosity at Operating Temperatures Thins out less at high temperatures compared to 5W30. Slightly thicker at high temperatures compared to 0W30.
Fuel Efficiency Generally better fuel efficiency due to lower viscosity at low temperatures. Good, though not as high as 0W30 in extremely cold conditions.
Common Applications Recommended for extreme cold climates, especially for vehicles running in harsh winter conditions. Commonly used in a wide range of climates, suitable for both cold and moderate temperatures.
Vehicle Compatibility Suitable for vehicles where the manufacturer recommends or allows the use of 0W30 oil. Suitable for vehicles where the manufacturer recommends or allows the use of 5W30 oil.
Typical Base Oil May use synthetic base oils to achieve low-temperature performance. Typically a mix of synthetic and conventional base oils.
Usage in Modern Engines Recommended for modern engines with tight tolerances and advanced technologies. Widely used in modern engines, providing a balance between protection and efficiency.
Price Higher Lower

What Is 0w30 Engine Oil?

0w30 engine oil is mostly a fully synthetic lubricant ideal for winter driving due to its low viscosity. It is a multigrade product as it works within various temperature ranges. The naming follows the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) grading system, which focuses on oil suitability in different temperature ranges.

In the case of 0w30, the first number, zero, indicates its flow rate in low temperatures. The W stands for winter, while the 30 is its highest viscosity level in operating temperatures.

The operating temperature range of 0w30 is -31 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It will remain stable in freezing conditions allowing you to start your vehicle effortlessly.

What is the difference between 0w30 vs. 0w40? While both are perfect for cold conditions, 0w40 oil fares better than 0w30 due to its vast operating temperature range of -40 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the go-to solution for extremely cold or hot environments.

Despite its lightness, 0w30 does an excellent job of preventing engine wear. Additionally, it is handy against sludge buildup and promotes fuel efficiency.

Pros Of 0w30 Oils

0w30 oils are ideal for winter driving, as they remain stable when the temperatures dip. You won’t have an issue starting your car in freezing conditions, as the oil flows freely. The situation is different with regular oils, as they become denser in low temperatures.

Like most synthetic oils, 0w30 oil has several additives that clean the engine and prevent sludge buildup. This lubricant promotes heat transfer to curb engine degradation.

0w30 is versatile, as it has a wide operating temperature range. While it is perfect for low temperatures, it will support high temperatures of up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Furthermore, this engine oil enhances fuel efficiency.


0w30 is pricier than standard engine lubricant. The cost is justifiable when you consider its performance and adaptability. On rare occasions, this oil will leak due to its lightness. However, the leakage points to a problem with engine assembly, which you should attend to promptly.

Read Also: 10w30 vs. 5w30

What Is 5w30 Engine Oil?


5w30 engine oil, like 0w30, is a multigrade lubricant, though it has a lower winter flow rate. 5w30 is ideal for winter driving, though its operational temperature range is not as wide as 0w30. Its range is -13 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

5w30 is heavier than 0w30, a redeeming factor in medium to high operating temperatures. Its thickness is handy for protection against engine wear and tear. This synthetic lubricant contains additives such as detergent, anti-wear agents, and rust and corrosion inhibitors. These additives guarantee engine longevity.

Pros of 5w30 Engine Oil

5w30 oil is versatile and can work in freezing and high temperatures. It can work in temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit, a limit enough to solidify regular lubricants and lower their efficiency.

This lubricant’s heaviness makes it suitable for wear prevention and heat dissipation. Its additives, such as detergent and antioxidants, further enhance its engine protection qualities.


5w30 engine oil is relatively pricier than standard lubricants. The good news is that you get your money’s worth, especially if you drive in areas with low temperatures.

0w30 Vs. 5w30: What Are the Differences?

The primary part of this discussion focuses on the 0w30 vs. 5w30 differences, which we look at based on various aspects, as highlighted below.


SAE engine oil grades focus on viscosity, a key contrast between 0w30 and 5w30. Oils fall under single-grade or multigrade categories.  The former are suitable for summer or winter, while the latter are ideal for both summer and winter, to varying degrees.

Oils suitable for high temperatures are highly viscous and graded as SAE 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 30, 40, and 60. On the other hand, lubricants for low temperatures have a W to indicate winter, such as 0w, 5w, 10w, and 20w.

0w30 and 5w30 are multigrade oils; hence, they are suitable for both winter and summer driving. Many car owners go for multigrade engine oils due to their versatility. The lubricant will remain stable whether it is hot or cold.

On the grading, 0w30 is more resilient to temperature changes than 5w30. It can withstand a drop of up to -31 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 5w30’s limit of -13 degrees Fahrenheit.


5w30 is slightly heavier than 0w30. The varying viscosity levels enhance the functionality of the two lubricants. For instance, the lighter 0w30 flows effortlessly, even in extremely low temperatures. Its fast flow rate boosts the engine’s efficiency.

On the other hand, 5w30 performs well in wear protection, sealing, and heat dissipation. 5w30 vs. 0w20, which is the better? 0w20 is also a multigrade lubricant suitable for low temperatures, though it has a lower heat range than 5w30.


We now understand that the number before the W in engine oils indicates their winter operating temperature, while the number after the letter is for their standard operating grade. 5w30 and 0w30 have the same operating temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The difference is their winter viscosity. 0w30 is more stable in the cold, with a -31 degrees Fahrenheit limit. While 5w30 is stable in freezing conditions, it does not match up to 0w30, with a-13 degrees Fahrenheit limit. 0w30 has a greater operating temperature range than 5w30, making it more adaptable.

Fuel Economy

The 0w30 vs. 5w30 fuel economy debate reveals that the former is the better, though by a slight margin. 0w30 is thin and flows fast to prevent excess friction, making the engine run smoothly. A smooth-running engine does not consume much fuel. 5w30 is also excellent in fuel efficiency, though its performance may drop with dipping temperatures, while 0w30 will withstand the changes to a higher degree.


Most of the time, 0w30 costs more than 5w30 due to its versatility, though the difference is minor. Other times, the reverse is true, especially if the 5w30 is fully synthetic and contains several additives for your engine’s health.

Motor oil brand significantly determines how much you will pay for the lubricants. Some brands are costly, but you get high-quality products.

Read Also: 0w20 vs. 5w20

Can I Use 5w30 Instead Of 0w30?

Your choice of lubricant depends on your driving conditions. You can use 5w30 and 0w30 interchangeably, as they are multigrade oils with the same standard operating temperature grade of 30. Both are excellent for winter driving, though 0w30 performs better as it can flow in chilly conditions.

What about 0w30 vs. 5w40? These two oils have varying viscosity levels, with 5w40 being on the higher side, making it suitable for summer driving, though it can also do well for moderately cold environments. 0w30 is perfect for winter driving and will fare well in averagely warm conditions.


Q: Is It Okay to Use 0w30 Instead Of 5w30?

0w30 and 5w30 are multigrade, mostly-synthetic engine oils suitable for winter driving. You can use them interchangeably, as they have the same operating viscosity value. You can use 0w30 in place of 5w30, as it is more adaptable than 5w30, courtesy of its vast working temperature range.

You won’t lose much by opting for 0w30 instead of 5w30, with 0w30’s resilience for low temperatures being its primary selling appeal. As for the downside, 0w30 is pricier than 5w30 in most situations.

Q: Is 0w or 5w Better?

0w and 5w are single-grade engine lubricants for winter driving, as denoted by the letter W. 0w is light and flows freely when the temperatures are extremely low. 5w oil is also excellent for winter, though it is thicker and will thicken further with depreciating temperatures.

0w oil is ideal if you frequently drive in the cold, helping you avoid starting problems. 5w is perfect for cold environments, though it works well in moderately warm conditions. Its high viscosity is handy for wear protection, sealing properties, and heat transfer.

Q: Is 0w30 Good for Hot Weather?

0w30, being a multigrade lubricant, is perfect for winter and summer driving. 0 is its winter driving viscosity grade: it flows freely up to -31 degrees Fahrenheit. 30 is its operational viscosity grade, a heat level of 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

0w30 can work well in hot weather, though its functionality depreciates past 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It does a better job for cold driving.

Q: Can I Use 5w Oil Instead Of 0w?

5w and 0w single-grade engine oils are ideal for driving in freezing environments. The key difference, 5w is denser than 0w, making 0w suitable for extreme temperature dips of up to -31 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use 5w if the temperatures are not past -13 degrees Fahrenheit. The thickness of 5w oil is crucial for engine wear protection and heat transfer.

Q: What Vehicles Use 0w-30?

0w30 engine oil is the go-to option for winter driving. Most vehicle manufacturers targeting markets with a cold environment recommend 0w30. As for proof, notable cars that use this lubricant include BMW, Volvo, Citroen, and Peugeot.

While you can use 5w30 on these models, you won’t get the best performance when it is freezing, especially on fuel economy.

Q: Why Did BMW Switch To 0w30?

The 0w30 vs. 5w30 BMW debate is common among car pundits. BMW used to stock 5w30 engine oil but switched to 0w30 around 2016, discontinuing the production of 5w30. The primary reason behind this move was to improve fuel efficiency and combat emissions on cold starts.

The logic is that 5w30 is heavier than 0w30 and may have a problem flowing when temperatures drop. 0w30 flows freely even in exceedingly cold conditions, making cold start-ups easy and boosting fuel economy.

Q: Why Is 5w-30 Oil So Popular?

Multigrade engine lubricants like 5w30 are popular due to their adaptability to various driving conditions. 5w30 works well within a -13 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit range and is excellent for winter driving.

The thickness of 5w30 is essential for engine protection against wear, primarily due to heat buildup. Furthermore, 5w30 is cheaper than other winter oils, such as 0w30 and 0w40.

Final Word

Winter driving is challenging and calls for the right utilities for a bearable experience. You need engine oil suitable for winter, which won’t freeze when temperatures drop. The 0w30 vs. 5w30 discussion looks at some engine oil grades you should go for if driving in the cold.

These lubricants’ low viscosity is the redeeming factor against freezing temperatures. We deduce that 0w30 is more diverse than 5w30 due to its lower viscosity, and it can withstand extreme cold. The thickness of 5w30 translates to excellent protection against engine degradation.

Pick the best option between 0w30 and 5w30 for smooth driving in various environments and your engine’s longevity.

Purity Wachira

Hi, I am Purity a researcher and technical writer since 2015. I hold a Masters in Supply Chain Management working in an automotive company. I am a resourceful lady with vast knowledge and interest in vehicles. My enthusiasm for cars drove me to more research, and the more information I got, the more I felt the need to share the knowledge through writing. My biggest win is to leave a positive impact on the automotive field and solve people's problems through articles, product descriptions, and product reviews.

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