What Kind of Oil Does a Lawn Mower Take?

All gasoline-powered lawn mowers, except for two-stroke ones, use motor oil just like your car or motorcycle. That means oil is just as important in lawn mowers as it is for all internal combustion vehicles. Furthermore, lawn mowers require regular oil changes, and the correct type of oil is equally important as it is for cars. Unfortunately, it might be a little difficult to get the oil type right because the topic isn’t that well covered, but we will do our best to shine some light on it.

So, what kind of oil does a lawn mower take? Most lawn mowers engines require single-grade SAE30 motor oil. As an alternative, some manufacturers allow 10W-30, but you can use it on your own accord, and there won’t be any problems. Also, some people use much thicker 10W-50 or even 15W-60 oils, more on that later.

best oil for lawn mower

Type of Oil for Lawn Mowers

The type of oil a lawn mowerr needs depends on its age and what the manufacturer recommends. Still, the oil likely won’t be any different from the one you use in your car unless the manufacturer recommends single-grade oil.

Single-grade oil is only good for a specific outside temperature. For example, the most commonly used SAE-30 will do its job properly at outside temperatures of 5 to 35 degrees Celsius or 41 to 95 Fahrenheit. But that’s not a problem for lawn mowers because nobody will mow the lawn at freezing temperatures.

The alternative oil to SAE-30 is 10W-30. Most people are probably familiar with this type of oil grading because it’s used in cars too. These are also called multi-grade oils, and their advantage is that they change viscosity with temperatures. That means they are optimal in a much wider range of outside temperatures.

And in the case of 10W-30, that range is from -25  to 35 Celsius or -13 to 95 Fahrenheit. In other words, the 10W-30 oil has the same operating temperature viscosity as SAE-30 but maintains an optimal viscosity at much lower temperatures. So, for engines that require SAE-30, a 10W-30 will do the same job.

As for those who use thicker 10W-50 or 15W-60 oils, these are better when outside temperatures are extremely high or when you use the lawn mower for hours on end without stopping. That’s because the thicker oil will maintain the proper viscosity at higher temperatures and provide better lubrication.

However, almost no lawn mower manufacturer recommends that type of oil, so it’s not something we can recommend either, even though it makes sense. But it’s worth mentioning that in case you don’t have access to SAE-30 or 10W-30 oil, you should never substitute it with thinner motor oils. Instead, your best chance of not causing any damage is by using 15W-40, 10W-40, 10W-50, or 15W-60.

Types of Oil For Lawn Mowers:

  • Most Commonly Used – SAE-30
  • Best Substitute for SAE-30 – 10W-30
  • Other Safe Alternatives – 10W-40/10W-50

can you use car oil in a lawn mower

What Kind of Oil Does a Lawn Mower Take

As always, it’s best to check your owner’s manual to see what kind of oil your lawn mower requires, and even if you don’t have an owner’s manual, you can find them online for almost any model. That said, it’s safe to assume that older lawn mowers made in the nineties and earlier use conventional oil, while newer ones may use synthetic or conventional, depending on the model.

Before we go into more detail, it’s important to mention that using conventional oil in a lawn mower that requires synthetic will almost certainly destroy the engine. But when it’s the other way around, nothing will happen to the engine, and it will most likely last longer. 

That’s because synthetic oils perform miles better in extremely hot environments, which is the case in lawn mower engines since they don’t have a proper cooling system. Moreover, the lubrication properties of synthetic oil are incomparably better than conventional, which is why all modern cars use synthetic oils. Also, synthetic oil lasts much longer and doesn’t degrade as quickly, even at high temperatures; plus, you can get the recommended SAE-30 oil in synthetic form.

How to Choose the Right Type of Oil for a Lawn Mower

To choose the correct oil for your lawn mower, refer to your owner’s manual or contact the lawn mower dealer where you got it from. If that doesn’t work, we know that SAE-30 is the recommended oil for almost all lawn mowers.

And if you are not sure what oil base you need, going with synthetic SAE-30 is the only fail-proof option. And again, if you can’t find that, use 10W-30 synthetic or 10W-40 synthetic.


Q: What oil is best for a lawn mower?

The best oil for lawn mowers is either SAE 30 or 10W30 full synthetic. However, synthetic oils are more expensive, so if you want to save some money, check your owner’s manual, and if the manufacturer allows conventional oil, you can use that in the same SAE 30 or 10W30 spec.

Q: Can I use 5W30 in my lawn mower?

Yes, you can use 5W30 oil in your lawn mower. Virtually all lawn mowers require a hot viscosity grade of 30 which is SAE 30 or 5W30, 10W30, 0W30, etc. Just make sure you get the oil base right, which is conventional or synthetic.

Q: Can I just add oil to my lawn mower?

Yes, you can just add oil to your lawn mower, but only if it’s low and not as a substitute for an oil change. Too much oil in the engine will increase the oil pressure and lead to engine failure, and the same thing will happen if you don’t change the oil at manufacturer-set intervals.

Q: Can I use 10W30 instead of SAE 30 in my lawn mower?

Yes, you can use 10W30 in your lawn mower instead of SAE 30. The 10W30 viscosity spec is the closest one to SAE 30 and the best substitute. Moreover, a lot of lawn mower manufacturers nowadays recommend 10W30 instead of SAE 30.

Q: Can you use car engine oil in a lawn mower?

Yes, you can use car engine oil in a lawn mower. Lawn mowers have the same type of engine you will find in a car, which means the oil is also the same. However, make sure the viscosity rating is correct for your lawn mower.

Q: Is lawn mower oil the same as car oil?

Yes, all lawn mower oils are the same as car oils, instead of SAE 30. The SAE 30 oil is reserved for lawn mowers with small engines and is not to be used in cars. However, all synthetic car oils can be used in lawn mowers as long as the viscosity rating is correct.

Q: Can you use any SAE 30 in lawn mowers?

No, you can’t use any SAE 30 in lawn mowers. Some lawn mowers require conventional SAE 30 oil, while others require synthetic SAE 30. Now, you can put synthetic SAE 30 into conventional oil mowers, but not the other way around.

Q: How often does a lawn mower need oil?

Most lawn mower manufacturers recommend replacing the oil every 50 hours of use or once a year, whichever comes first. If you are not sure how many hours are on your mower, replace the oil and keep track in the future.


In the end, the best oil you can use in your lawn mower is either SAE 30 or 10W30 synthetic. Although it’s best to check your owner’s manual to see what oil the manufacturer recommends, the previously mentioned ones are the best. But if you don’t have either of the two, you can use thicker oils like 10W40 and 10W50 or oils with a lower cold viscosity like 5W30.

Ibro Cehic

Ever since I was bitten by the automotive bug during early childhood I was obsessed with cars. My first driving experience came when I was ten and I already started tinkering with cars and motorcycles at thirteen. So, right from the beginning, I knew my life would revolve around cars, even if I wasn’t sure how that would happen. And today, thanks to my second passion, writing, I get to share my love for automobiles with other enthusiasts through my articles.

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