SAE 30 Vs 5w30: Underline The Difference

What are the differences between SAE 30 and 5W30 motor oils? Well, they look the same as each other, right? But, NO, these oils are different!

For instance, SAE 30 is designed for small motor engines, while 5W30 is best used for cars and trucks. But they don’t stop there!

In this article, I will unfold everything about SAE 30 Vs. 5W30 motor oils. You’d surely get complete knowledge of them and understand their differences.

Let’s dive in!

SAE 30 Vs 5W30: What Are The Differences?

Oil Grade

SAE 30 – Single Oil

SAE means Society of Automotive Engineers. It is an association that designs the code-based system of defining oil’s viscosity. Typically, motor oils have ratings from 0 to 50. For cars and other machines that run a hydraulic system, viscosity means how long it will take an oil to flow through all your automotive components. It implies that SAE 30 is a motor oil that has a viscosity of 30. 

So, SAE 30 is a single oil that is designed to meet the high-temperature requirement only.  It means it is thick and can only work perfectly for your machine during the hot conditions. However, when the temperature decreases or the weather is chilly, the motor oil will be considerably thicker. So, even though SAE30 oil can work well for your engine when it is warmed up and temperature increases, you can have a hard time starting your car during the cold winter morning. That’s why it’s not advisable using single oil for cars. 

5W30 – Multigrade Oil

5W30 is a multigrade oil that is designed to have two different flows. One for when the engine is warm and the other for when the weather is cold. The 5 preceding W is the oil’s viscosity when it is cold. So, the lower this number before W, the thinner the oil is at low temperatures and the better the performance at such cold temperatures. 

The W stands for Winter, and the 30 after W is the viscosity of the motor oil at high temperature. Unlike the SAE 30, the 5w30 motor oil gets thinner when it is hot. By being thinner, the 5w30 pumps rapidly in your engine and gives it more protection than how the SAE 30m performs.

Related Post: 5w20 Vs. 5w30: Head-to-Head Comparison


SAE 30 – Non-detergent Oil

SAE 30 is a non-detergent oil. It acts like a magnet that gathers all the contaminants, which can damage your engine. This helps prevent the contaminants from sticking to the open cracks, sidewalls, and damaging bearing surfaces. Besides, non-detergent motor oil is an excellent idea to keep your car healthy and shorten the interval time between oil changes.  

5W30 – Oil With Additives

5W30 has detergents, corrosion preventers, enhanced addictive packages, and other chemicals to break down sludge, prevent rust, and stabilize acids for oil life longevity. Compared to non-detergent oils, it keeps your engine running more smoothly and cleaner.  

Moreover, viscosity index improvers are the other noteworthy additives in the oil. It helps stabilize the oil from thinning after exposure to temperature. When exposed to temperature, these improvers tend to expand in the surface area, thus increasing intermolecular friction of the particles and reducing the flowage in higher temperatures. Hence, having additives in the oils will be more advantageous since they help maintain the lubricative function over a wide temp range. 

sae 30 vs 5w30 comparison table
These two oils are different, do not mix them together. Mixing various types of oils won’t necessarily improve your engine’s performance but cause disastrous consequences.


SAE 30

SAE 30 is typically used for smaller air-cooled engines such as chain saws, lawnmowers, small tractors, generators, and other 4stroke garden tools. Additionally, they are used mainly in older machines. 


5w30, on the other hand, can work for car and truck engines. The 5W30 also provides an extended drain interval in high mileage vehicles, trucks, and SUVs. This motor oil is commonly used in newer machines. 

SAE 30 Oil Equivalent

When looking for SAE 30 oil replacements, you should ensure that the equivalent has the same flow rate as SAE 30 at a normal operating temperature. It means the number after W must be 30. For example, you can use 5W30, and 10W30 as SAE 30 motor oil alternatives. Besides, according to the PSC oil viscosity comparison chart, ISO 100 is equivalent to SAE 30. ISO implies International Organization for Standardization and there is no significant difference between the organization and SAE. Both develop technical standards for road vehicles and intelligent vehicle systems. 

bonus: Best Oil For Honda Lawn Mower

FAQs About SAE 30 and 5W30

1. Can I use SAE 30 instead of 5w30?

No, it’s not advisable, even though both have the same flow rate at average operating temperatures, swapping SAE 30 for 5w30 is not recommended. If your engine runs on 5W30, using the SAE30 as a replacement can result in accelerated wear and tear. Also, the SAE30 will not protect your engine as the 5W30 will do during the winter or cold weather.  

2. Can I mix SAE 30 with 5w30? 

No, it’s a terrible idea to mix SAE 30 with 5w30 because they are not of the same grade. The SAE 30 is a single-grade oil, while the 5W30 is a double-grade oil. Mixing them might have you counting losses, and your engine will pay for it. 

3. Can I use SAE 30 in my car?  

Using SAE 30 for your vehicle is not disastrous, especially if your car has been running on SAE 30 oil for years. Besides, you don’t have anything to worry about as it will work perfectly fine in vehicles that run on multigrade oils like 5W30. However, ensure the oil temperature does not cool down to 25-degree Celsius to avoid making the oil massively less slippery. 


You may ask yourself, should I change from SAE 30 to 5W30 or vice versa?  Both are suitable for use in specific applications. With size as a factor in consideration, single oils like Sae 30 are advisable for smaller engines, while multi-grade oils are recommended for larger engines.

Remember, always use the ideal oil grade for your engine to keep it in good working condition. 

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  1. Pingback: Mixing 5w30 and 10w30 Motor Oils: Effects and Safety Explained - Oils Advisor

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