Motor oil, 5W20 vs 5W30

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Motor oil, 5W20 vs 5W30

Postby SpringMan » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:02 am

Just had an oil change on a 2007, Chrysler Minivan with the standard 3.3 liter six cylinder motor. The oil filler says use 5W20 oil. The sticker given to me at my last oil change said 5W30 was used. The shop, a Mobil oil change franchise, said the 5W20 oil change would cost $7 more, so I opted for the cheaper 5W30. It looks like 5W20 oil, according to a quick google, can save up to .5% on EPA fuel economy. I also read using 5W30 won't void the manufacturers warranty. Can this cause any problems?
Best Wishes, SpringMan
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Postby Gekko » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:10 am

i highly doubt it. don't sweat the small stuff.

good luck.
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Postby hsv_climber » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:50 am

- It is the first time I've heard that oil of different viscosities, but the same brand/type can have different prices. Just go to Autozone / Advanced Auto and you'd see that prices are the same

- Look it up in your owner's manual. It usually has a chart of what type to use when. It is typically not just 1 type. It would most likely be less viscosity (i.e. 5W20) for the winter, more viscosity (5w30 and up) for the summer.

- Less viscosity oil (i.e. 5w20) can save you some fuel, but it is not recommended during the summer / high temperature season.
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Postby infecto » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:53 am

Do not worry about it. The chances of anything happening is close to 0.
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Postby jeffyscott » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:55 am

From what I've read some people will switch to the heavier oil when their engine is older and worn. I have also read that in some cases, the very same engine will specify 5W-20 in the US and 5W-30 in Europe.

So far, I've just stuck with 5W-20, if that is what the manufacturer specifies. I have never heard of there being a cost difference, though. I suppose maybe the place you went has a bulk supply of cheap 5W-30 and other grades are in bottles and so cost more :?: .

I thought usually if there was a cheap option it was typically a 10W-30, which I'd not use, since we have winter.
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Postby bottlecap » Sat Sep 11, 2010 10:06 am

It will be fine. Assuming a .5% fuel economy change and 16 mpg, you will have to buy an additional gallon of fuel over 3,000 miles. They saved you money. If you're worried about .5% fuel economy, changing your driving habits will get you the most bang for your buck.

That said, it's probably a good idea to follow the manufacturer's recommendation, but a slightly different grade of motor oil isn't a big deal. I'm sure mechanics deviate from the manufacturer's suggestion frequently with respect to oil and everybody's cars are still running fine.

Good luck,

JT
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Postby kenschmidt » Sat Sep 11, 2010 10:37 am

We have a 2002 Dodge Caravan with the same 3.3L engine and we've always used 5W30. We've not had any issues.

Changing the oil on the regular maintenance interval is far more important than the grade and viscosity of the oil used IMO.

Ken
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Postby SpringMan » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:10 am

Thanks to everyone for the responses. This is the second oil change with 5W30 and everything seems just fine, no observable difference. All things being equal I would use the 5W20. The oil I got was bulk 5W30, so maybe the 5W20 was in individual bottles/cans and therefore cost more. The shop said that the switch to 5W20 was around 2002, so Ken you may have been using what is recommended for the 2002 Dodge 3.3 liter.
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Postby NYnative » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:17 am

I used straight 50W non-detergent oil in an old beater that burned a quart every 50 or so miles. I had to bring the can of oil up to my office to keep it warm during the day - if I left it in the car, I would have to spoon it in as it was nearly solid after sitting in 20 degree temps all day :roll: Other than that minor problem, the car ran great :?
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Postby tdhg566 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:26 am

jeffyscott wrote:From what I've read some people will switch to the heavier oil when their engine is older and worn...

You betcha. Some of you may be too young to remember cars with manually adjusted points (anyone still have their dwell meter?), and a carb, not fuel injection (how about that vacuum gauge?). Those engines didn't last nearly as long as engines do today. When those lifters started to clack and the pistons started to slap, you clicked up your oil viscosity a notch. Like another poster, I've gone as high as 50w in a toyota corolla that had rust holes in the floorboards.

My, how my heart pines for the old days LOL :lol:
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Postby jeffyscott » Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:36 am

VW still specifies 40 weight, as in 5W-40. I think bmw may specify 5w-50 or even 5w-60 for at least some of their engines.

When my kid's car was having oil pressure issues we tried a conventional 20W-50, trying to maximize viscosity at engine operating temp. For winter, I thought about having him mix one quart of a straight 50 or 60 weight in with a 5W-40, as I had read that is essentially what various "engine repair" goos essentially consists of...ended up not having to do that as the issue apparently went away by just using conventional oil instead of synthetic.
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Postby Scott S » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:04 pm

5W20 is generally more expensive, partly because they need to use some synthetic basestock to get the desired viscocity index with a minimum of VIIs, and because they can charge it, knowing that some manufacturers call for it exclusively. You'll be just fine using 5W30.

I just switched my '96 Subaru to 5W40. With nearly 200K miles on the odometer, a little thicker (at operating temp) oil might be helpful for longevity. Plus, I love the smell of Rotella. :lol:

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Postby rec7 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:06 pm

In this case the first number is more important than the second number. When the engine starts it is a 5 weight oil.
Disclaimer: You might lose money doing anything I say. Although that was not my intent.
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Postby Scott S » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:09 pm

rec7 wrote:In this case the first number is more important than the second number.


How so?
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Postby retcaveman » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:17 pm

Back in the late 50's/early 60's a lot of people used straight 30 weight. The new innovation was multigrade oil afterwhich 10W30 became the standard for years (which I still use today).

tdhg566 - I remember but we were too poor to have a dwell meter so we used a feeler guage. Hit the ignition to get to a cam lobe on the distributor shaft and would gap away. And don't forget to change the condensor when you change your points. Most of the guys I hung with back then did their own work: wheel bearings, tune ups, clutches, shocks, water and fuel pumps, brakes (which you had to manually adjust) and exhaust. About all I do now is pump my own gas and occasionally check the tire pressure.

SpringMan - no it won't cause any problems.
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Postby rec7 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:27 pm

Scott S wrote:
rec7 wrote:In this case the first number is more important than the second number.


How so?


When the engine first starts that is the time of most of the wear if the oil is to thick. This oil is 5 weight so it is the right thickness when it first starts up. The oil does not turn to 30 weight untill it heats up.
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Postby rwwoods » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:46 pm

You should ensure the oil complies with the car maufacturer's minimum required API rating. Also check to see if your engine requires synthetic or semi-senthetic blend. A synthetic 5W-20 will cost more than a plain 10W-30. Pehaps that was the reason for the cost difference. In cold weather, a 20W will provide improved oil flow during warmup and thus limit engine wear.
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Postby wintermute » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:59 pm

Check out the bobistheoilguy.com forums. People there debate endlessly over oil brands, additives (the ones already in your oil - not those snake oil additives), and used oil analysis.
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Postby Scott S » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:42 pm

rec7 wrote:
Scott S wrote:
rec7 wrote:In this case the first number is more important than the second number.


How so?


When the engine first starts that is the time of most of the wear if the oil is to thick. This oil is 5 weight so it is the right thickness when it first starts up. The oil does not turn to 30 weight untill it heats up.


Which is mostly a concern in cold winter temperatures. Cars in moderate or hot temps can run straight weights year-round with excellent engine life.

The unfortunate thing about the XXwXX scheme for multiweight oil is that it leads people to the misconception that the first number is on the same scale as the second -- that the oil somehow transitions from one weight to another as it warms. The first has a completely different set of specs that has changed a couple times over the years. IMO, we would be much better off had we adopted a system where the prefix is a letter, i.e. BW30, CW45, etc.

Which is a digression, though. The main point is that the OP can use 5W30 or 10W30 without concern of damage (just slightly lower fuel economy). Just don't pour 20W50 or straight 40 into the thing and expect it to like you on a cold morning. :wink:

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Postby Norris » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:11 pm

retcaveman wrote:Back in the late 50's/early 60's a lot of people used straight 30 weight. The new innovation was multigrade oil afterwhich 10W30 became the standard for years (which I still use today).

tdhg566 - I remember but we were too poor to have a dwell meter so we used a feeler guage. Hit the ignition to get to a cam lobe on the distributor shaft and would gap away. And don't forget to change the condensor when you change your points.


Ah yes. I remember it well: Points, plugs, condenser. Tune-up and a fill-up. S&H or Gold Bell, Sir?
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Postby Midwest_Investor » Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:40 am

Someone very wise once told me:

1] most important: Just have the right amount of oil in the engine.

2] after that, we can talk about the small differences in different oils.
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Postby norookie » Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:24 pm

Theres little difference IMO. Motors have tighter tolerances these days thats all. I recall 10-40w to 20-50w in the 80s. The heavier oil just disperses slower in starting and lasts a little longer in viscosity. The question is akin to .001 vs .002 IMO.JMO. :?
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best for mileage or best for engine life

Postby rocket » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:25 am

Amsoil website has a lot to say about oil weight.
If you want what's best for your engine life, use 30 weight.
If you want what's best for your mileage, use 20 weight.
I will use 30 weight.
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Re: Motor oil, 5W20 vs 5W30

Postby Dagwood » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:36 am

SpringMan wrote:Just had an oil change on a 2007, Chrysler Minivan with the standard 3.3 liter six cylinder motor. The oil filler says use 5W20 oil. The sticker given to me at my last oil change said 5W30 was used. The shop, a Mobil oil change franchise, said the 5W20 oil change would cost $7 more, so I opted for the cheaper 5W30. It looks like 5W20 oil, according to a quick google, can save up to .5% on EPA fuel economy. I also read using 5W30 won't void the manufacturers warranty. Can this cause any problems?


It won't cause any issues. 5w20 is more expensive likely because it is more unusual formulation -- not as common, at least not yet. The 5w30 is a very standard synthetic weight. Honda uses 5w20, fwiw.
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Re: best for mileage or best for engine life

Postby Dagwood » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:41 am

rocket wrote:Amsoil website has a lot to say about oil weight.
If you want what's best for your engine life, use 30 weight.
If you want what's best for your mileage, use 20 weight.
I will use 30 weight.


No offense, but this is plain wrong. Honda, for example, would never take the chance of destroying its reputation by using an oil formulation that would cause the engine to wear out prematurely. I doubt Chrysler would either but frankly I have more confidence in Honda given its long track record of producing long-lasting cars. Moreover, Honda's engine reputation is even better than its overall reputation -- think racing, motorcycles, power equipment -- so there's no way in you know what they would have the engines wear out prematurely chasing fuel economy.

Our 04 CRV uses 5w20 per the manual. We've owned it since new. At 75k miles the engine is tight, leak free, does not burn or otherwise use oil, and runs like a top. The biggest problem we have with this car is that after 7 something years of daily use you are in the mood for something new but the car is so sound I cannot rationalize it at this point.
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Postby Frugal Al » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:09 am

Scott S wrote:Which is mostly a concern in cold winter temperatures. Cars in moderate or hot temps can run straight weights year-round with excellent engine life.

Scott, your statement is misleading and borderline wrong. You don't need cold winter temperatures to benefit from multiweight oil with a good cold viscosity. Most wear occurs at start up for a typical engine. Most modern engines with tight tolerances benefit with a good 5 or 0 weight cold viscosity.

On the other hand, with an old engine design that sounds like a tractor, and is prone to piston slap on start-up, I can understand why you would prefer to run something with the consistency of molasses in your Subaru :wink:. Modern engines (like Hondas) with watchlike tolerances prefer something more akin to watch oil on start-up.

As for the OP's question, either 5w20 or 5w30 is fine.
Last edited by Frugal Al on Tue Jun 14, 2011 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby isaidit » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:22 am

Read your owner's manual. If you trust the manufacturer to design and build a product that you put your family inside of then drive in at speeds over 70mph, it's probably not too much of a stretch to trust what oil they recommend.
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Postby Mister Whale » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:30 pm

rec7 wrote:In this case the first number is more important than the second number. When the engine starts it is a 5 weight oil.


Agreed.

5w30 is fine.
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Re: best for mileage or best for engine life

Postby infecto » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:51 pm

Dagwood wrote:
rocket wrote:Amsoil website has a lot to say about oil weight.
If you want what's best for your engine life, use 30 weight.
If you want what's best for your mileage, use 20 weight.
I will use 30 weight.


No offense, but this is plain wrong. Honda, for example, would never take the chance of destroying its reputation by using an oil formulation that would cause the engine to wear out prematurely. I doubt Chrysler would either but frankly I have more confidence in Honda given its long track record of producing long-lasting cars. Moreover, Honda's engine reputation is even better than its overall reputation -- think racing, motorcycles, power equipment -- so there's no way in you know what they would have the engines wear out prematurely chasing fuel economy.

Our 04 CRV uses 5w20 per the manual. We've owned it since new. At 75k miles the engine is tight, leak free, does not burn or otherwise use oil, and runs like a top. The biggest problem we have with this car is that after 7 something years of daily use you are in the mood for something new but the car is so sound I cannot rationalize it at this point.


Agreed.

Even if you go to bobtheoilguy forums you will see people spout these crazy recommendations for oil and oil change intervals. Sure if you want to change the oil every 3-5k go for it but when my honda recommends 5w-20 and says 10k every change I am inclined to trust it. They do after all run these engines in specific test parameters to figure out what works and what does not work.
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Postby zaplunken » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:16 am

tdhg566 wrote:
jeffyscott wrote:From what I've read some people will switch to the heavier oil when their engine is older and worn...

You betcha. Some of you may be too young to remember cars with manually adjusted points (anyone still have their dwell meter?), and a carb, not fuel injection (how about that vacuum gauge?). Those engines didn't last nearly as long as engines do today. When those lifters started to clack and the pistons started to slap, you clicked up your oil viscosity a notch. Like another poster, I've gone as high as 50w in a toyota corolla that had rust holes in the floorboards.

My, how my heart pines for the old days LOL :lol:


Yes I still have my dwell meter, some feeler gauges and a timing light. I still tune up my old vehicle using these as this is how it's done and yes it has a carb.
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Postby Scott S » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:15 am

Nice thread bump, guys.

Frugal Al wrote:
Scott S wrote:Which is mostly a concern in cold winter temperatures. Cars in moderate or hot temps can run straight weights year-round with excellent engine life.

Scott, your statement is misleading and borderline wrong. You don't need cold winter temperatures to benefit from multiweight oil with a good cold viscosity. Most wear occurs at start up for a typical engine. Most modern engines with tight tolerances benefit with a good 5 or 0 weight cold viscosity.

I never said that cars can't benefit from a multiweight oil in warmer climates, just that it was less necessary. The pour point depressants used to get that "0" or "5" rating aren't doing very much when it's warm out.

BTW, I used to run 0W30 in the Subaru before I realized it was a waste of money. The EJ22 engine has a tendency to outlive the body no matter what you do. :razz:

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Postby rob » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:44 am

tdhg566 wrote:
jeffyscott wrote:From what I've read some people will switch to the heavier oil when their engine is older and worn...

You betcha. Some of you may be too young to remember cars with manually adjusted points (anyone still have their dwell meter?), and a carb, not fuel injection (how about that vacuum gauge?). Those engines didn't last nearly as long as engines do today. When those lifters started to clack and the pistons started to slap, you clicked up your oil viscosity a notch. Like another poster, I've gone as high as 50w in a toyota corolla that had rust holes in the floorboards.

My, how my heart pines for the old days LOL :lol:

lol - Some memories in there from some real clunkers that got me thru uni and more... Now I look under the bonnet and um um um close it again.
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Postby HardKnocker » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:54 am

You should use the oil recommended by the manufacturer, in this case 5w20.

No way does 5w20 cost more than 5w30. What nonsense.

Find another service shop. These guys are full of BS.
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Postby Frugal Al » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:06 am

Scott S wrote:BTW, I used to run 0W30 in the Subaru before I realized it was a waste of money. The EJ22 engine has a tendency to outlive the body no matter what you do. :razz:- Scott


Fair enough. Thanks for taking my comment on your Subaru in jest. You're right, some people have had great luck with the EJ22, including my parents. I, however, had the unfortunate luck of having a 2000 Forester with the EJ25 (251) engine. Not all Subarus are created equal.
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