5W-20 vs 0W-20 Engine Oils: What’s the Difference?

5W20 and 0W20 are two popular multi grade engine oils. Both the types are best-sellers because of the value they provide. These engine oils are different from single grade oils because they can flow under extreme cold temperatures as well as moderate hot temperatures. 

0W20 and 5W20 oils are widely used for diesel and gasoline engines all across the globe. Though they are very similar, there are some differences between them.

So, 5W20 vs 0W20: What’s the Difference? Well, these two multi grade best-sellers engine oils have slight differences regarding their viscosity, performance, fuel efficiency, and pricing. Can you switch from one type to another? Or is it possible to mix 5W20 and 0W20 oils? Here you will find all your answers.

Let’s find out everything about 5W20 and 0W20 multi grade engine oils right below.

5W20 vs 0W20: Quick Comparison Table

Before the in-depth discussion between the differences of the  engine oils, let’s make a quick comparison chart for you.

0W205W20
‘W’ stands for Winter. This engine oil is suitable for cold temperaturesThe 5W20 engine oil is also suitable for cold winters
It is 0W weight oil at cold temperatures It is 5W weight oil at cold temperatures  
The 0W20 performs better than 5W20 in cold temperatures The 5W20 performs good in cold temperatures, but not better than 0W20 
It performs good in normal operating temperatures (-22°F to 68°F), but not better than the 5W20It performs better than the 0W20 in normal operating temperatures (-22°F to 68°F)
It can flow in moderate warm temperatures It also can flow in moderate warm temperatures 
The 0W20 is thinner viscosity oil The 5W20 is thicker viscosity oil
The 0W20 is suitable for diesel and gasoline engines Likewise, the 5W20 is suitable for diesel and gasoline engines
The 0W20 comes in synthetic and semi-synthetic base oils and additives The 5W20 comes in synthetic, semi-synthetic, and conventional base oils and additives  
It is a little bit more expensive than the 5W20It is a little bit less expensive than the 0W20

5W20 vs 0W20: What’s the Difference?

The 5W20 and 0W20 engine oils have multi grade viscosities. Unlike single grade viscosity, these types offer fluidity in both cold and seasonal temperatures in the United States.

The SAE, Society of Automotive Engineers, is responsible for assigning grades to engine oils. The ‘W’ in the type name stands for Winter. It means, both the types here are suitable for winter weather. 

The numbers before and after the ‘W’ indicate the oil thickness or weight in cold and warm temperatures, respectively. So, the type names, 5W20 and 0W20, hint that one is thicker than the other, and so their viscosities are slightly different.

The 5W20 and 0W20 engine oils are very similar. Nonetheless, we can find slight differences in their Viscosities, versatility, performance, and pricing. Let’s have a look at the differences between 5W20 and 0W20 down here.

Cold and Warm Viscosities

The 5W20 and 0W20 are multi grade viscosity oils, assigned by the SAE. It means that they can flow well in both cold and moderate warm temperatures. But we can see the difference in their viscosities in cold, by the number before the ‘W’.

Viscosity stands for an oil’s measurement of resistance to flow. In other words, viscosity is the measurement of an oil’s thickness at different temperatures.

The 0W20 is 0W weight engine oil, meaning that it is thinner than its counterpart in cold temperatures. So, it is low viscosity engine oil in cold temperatures.

On the other hand, the 5W20 is 5W weight engine oil, and a bit thicker in viscosity than its counterpart in cold temperatures.

For operating at normal temperatures, both the types are grade 20, according to the SAE. So, the 0W20 and 5W20 engine oil are similar in viscosities at normal temperatures. Though, the latter performs slightly thicker in normal temperatures.

Performance

The lower the viscosity, the better it flows in cold temperatures. It is because in cold weather, the oil needs to flow smoothly to all the parts of the engine. Lower viscosity helps in this regard.

As the 0W20 is lower in viscosity at cold temperatures than the 5W20, it performs better in extreme cold winters and cold weather.

Hence, if you are living in the North, and driving in below freezing temperatures, 0W20 should be ideal for you. Continue reading this article to know if you can switch to another grade engine oil.

On the other hand, both the types have great fluidity in normal temperatures. They perform well up to 68°F temperature.

However, the 5W20 performs slightly better in normal temperatures than 0W20 engine oil. It is because the former is thicker and the thickness comes in handy to perform well in normal temperatures.

Versatility

The 5W20 engine oil provides more versatility than its counterpart. The 0W20 engine oil comes in synthetic and semi-synthetic oil bases and additives. So, it is premium quality engine oil.

On the other hand, the 5W20 engine oil comes in synthetic, semi-synthetic, and conventional oil bases and additives. So, it is also premium and provides more versatility.

Costing

As the 0W20 engine oil only comes in synthetic and semi-synthetic, it is slightly more expensive than the 5W20 engine oil.

Though the price varies from brand to brand. It should be wise if you check out the price of different brands before purchasing.

Fuel Efficiency 

In terms of fuel efficiency, both types are good choices. This is, in fact, a reason why they are best-sellers of engine oils in the cold area.

As a matter of fact, the 0W20 multi grade engine oil should be a little better in terms of fuel efficiency.

It is because 0W20 is thinner and low viscosity engine oil, which makes it smoother to flow through the parts of engine. Again, full synthetic engine oils are better to provide good fuel efficiency.

Can I use 5W20 instead of 0W20?

You cannot use 5W20 instead of 0W20 engine oil, unless your manufacturer recommends it. It is generally recommended not to switch from one type to another.

You can find the suitable engine oil type for your engine in the owner’s manual. So, check it out before you switch.

5W20 engine oil is ideal for normal temperatures. Nonetheless it is also good for low temperature climates. But it is thicker in viscosity than the 0W20 engine oil. 

You cannot notice any immediate change if you use 5W20 instead of 0W20. But it will affect the oil change interval time and the fuel efficiency of your vehicle.

Moreover, if you drive in below freezing temperatures, you may not get good performance by using 5W20 instead of 0W20.

So, we recommend you not to use 5W20 instead of 0W20, unless your manufacturer recommends.

Can I use 0W20 instead of 5W20?

You cannot use 0W20 instead of 5W20 engine oil and vice-versa, unless your manufacturer recommends it. It is generally recommended not to switch from one type to another.

You can find the suitable engine oil type for your engine in the owner’s manual. So, check it out before you switch.

The 0W20 engine oil is more suitable for lower temperature climates. It is low in viscosity and thinner. On the contrary, the 5W20 engine oil is thicker than the former, though it is also compatible for lower temperature climates.

You cannot notice any immediate change if you use 0W20 instead of 5W20. But it will affect the oil change interval time and the fuel efficiency of your vehicle.

So, we recommend you not to use 0W20 instead of 5W20, unless your manufacturer recommends.

Can I mix 5W20 and 0W20 oil?

You cannot mix 5W20 and 0W20 engine oil together. Though they are similar, they are not the same things.

For instance, the 0W20 oil is always synthetic or semi-synthetic. But the 5W20 can be conventional. Nonetheless, you cannot blend two synthetic types. If you mix and use them together, it will increase the engine’s fuel consumption rate.

Moreover, there are different modifiers and additives in them. Mixing them would cause harm to your engine. Hence, we recommend you not to mix 5W20 and 0W20 oil.

Conclusion

5W-20 and 0W-20 are two multi grade engine oils, suitable for low temperature climates, and normal seasonal temperatures. Though they are very similar, there are some differences between them as well. 

The 0W20 engine oil is thinner and of low viscosity, performs better than 5W20 at below freezing temperatures. On the other hand, the 5W20 is thicker engine oil and more suitable for seasonal temperatures.

These two engine oils are best-sellers in the market for the values they provide. However, you shouldn’t switch from one type to another. Mixing them together should harm your engine. Always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations to choose engine oils for your engine.