What Does 5w20 Mean? (What Cars Take 5w20 Oil?) (2024)

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What does 5w20 mean? 5w30 basically indicates a multi-grade motor oil, meaning that this type of oil is designed to operate in different temperatures. (more on this later).

Every motor oil in the market has a code, and the code looks similar. The code includes 0w40, 5w20, 5w30, 10w40, 10w30, and so on. These codes are really important – they are the viscosity rating of the oils at different temperature ranges.

The lower the number, the lighter the oil, and the easier it’d flow. That said, 0w30 would flow more easily than 5w30 in cold temperatures, but both oils would flow at the same velocity in high temps.

On most modern cars, you’d see 5w20 as the recommended oil for the engine, and not all drivers clearly understand this.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the 5w20 motor oil and what cars take 5w20 oil, and some of the best 5w20 substitutes in the market.

How To Understand The Number Codes On Motor Oils

Every motor engine is designed to run with a particular type of oil; some engines need lighter oils, while some other need thicker oils. Usually, thicker oils are used for heavy-duty engines, while regular, everyday cars run use lighter oils.

So, what makes a motor oil light or thick? Simply, it is the numbers you see on the oil container. The first number represents the weight of the oil in cold temperatures, while the last number represents the weight in high temps.

The weight/viscosity of motor oil is indicated with numbers; the lower the number, the thinner the oil, which means the weight is lesser. In contrast, the higher the number, the thicker the oil, which means the weight is more.

Thus, a 5w20 oil is a motor oil with low-temperature dynamic viscosity at 40oF or 0oC (represented with 5 in viscosity index). The letter “W” in-between represents “Winter,” and the last number (20) is the kinematic viscosity at 100oF or 100oC.

Read Also: 5w20 Vs 5w30 On Ford Vehicles

What is Oil Viscosity?

What Does 5w20 Mean? (What Cars Take 5w20 Oil?) (1)

Viscosity refers to the resistance level of motor oils to flow at specific temperatures. Thin oils flow easily at low temperatures because they have lower viscosity. Mainly, thin oils are recommended for the Winter season.

On the other hand, thick oils would still flow at cold temperatures, but not as easily as thin oils. However, there are conditions to determine if your engine needs thick oil or thin oil.

What Does 5w20 Mean?

What does 5w20 mean? In clear terms, 5w20 is “Multi-Grade” motor oil, which means, it can operate in different temperatures, which is unlike “Single Grade” oils that run under specific temperatures.

A 5w20 oil will flow at both cold and hot temperatures. However, it may thin out if the operating temperature gets extremely high.

You should use 5w20 if it is specified for your engine, or if you live in an area where the temperatures don’t get too high (over 20oC or 68°F).

Are There Any Benefits Of 5w20?

Yes, as fully synthetic oils, they are good for all engine models and types. They also offer solid protection and help to keep the moving parts of any engine lubricant.

Because 5w20 oils are lighter, they flow easily, and as such, they can improve fuel efficiency and gas mileage.

Sounds good? Yes, they offer pretty many benefits because of the low viscosity. More so, they are best recommended for driving in the winter days.

Even if your car comes with 5w30 specifications or any other oil specification, you could still use 5w20 for the engine and still enjoy a cool ride. Without saying much, let’s see the cars that come with 5w20 specifications for their engines.

Read Also: How Many Months Does Synthetic Oil Last?

What Cars Take 5w20 Oil?

What Does 5w20 Mean? (What Cars Take 5w20 Oil?) (2)

Most car models from Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Toyota, Honda, Acura, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai come with 5w20 specifications.

In addition, Chevy, GMC, Buick, Pontiac, Saturn, Nissan, Lexus, Subaru, Volvo, BMW, Jaguar, and Cadillac also manufacture engines that are meant to run with 5w20 oils.

Virtually all automakers have a particular model of their vehicles required to run with 5w20 oils.

Automakers like Saab, Audi, VW, Kia, Isuzu, and Land Rover are not left out. You’d notice that 5w20 oils are among the first to get sold out on various stores, this is because they are used by most modern vehicles produced within the last 5 years.

It would be almost impossible to make a complete list of specific vehicle models that run with 5w20. However, this oil type is the specification for most modern engines. It has an alternative you could use as a substitute.

Is 5w20 Full Synthetic Oil?

Yes, 5w20 is fully synthetic oil meaning that it does not contain crude oil, and thus, it is a great oil for any engine. However, depending on the brand that made the 5w20, the additives may differ.

It is the additives used in making motor oils that determine the level of protection they offer, and their effectiveness. Notwithstanding, if your car engine specifies 5w20, stick to that so as not to void the car warranty or harm your engine.

Best 5w20 Substitutes

For better performance during the summer season and in areas of high temps, most drivers use 5w30 instead of 5w20. Yes, 5w30 is a decent substitute to use on a 5w20-specified engine.

Both oils have the same viscosity for cold temps but slightly differ in high temps. The 5w20 oil is liable to thin out during the summer season, but 5w30 would keep your engine running smoothly in and out of season.

Summarily, 5w20 is mainly the specification for most vehicles. It flows easily at high and low temps, and it offers good protection.

Read Also: What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Oil For 10000 Miles?

What Does 5w20 Mean? (What Cars Take 5w20 Oil?) (2024)
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