Not all lawnmowers are built the same. Some have large engines whilst others are smaller. However, even when an engine is small, there are still many moving components that require oil to operate properly.
Not all oils are the same, either. Because there is a large variety of oils out there, it can be pretty challenging when trying to find the right one for your mower.
Two common motor oils used for lawnmowers are SAE 30 and 10w30. Although both have the number “30,” they have their own, unique characteristics and benefits. Therefore, one is typically better for a lawnmower than the other.
Motor oils are generally graded by how they behave under certain conditions and temperatures. Their viscosity (thickness) is what gives them a certain rating. When the temperature is hot, oil is less viscous, and can move more freely. In low temperatures, the viscosity of oil is usually thicker and flows slower.
Because of these characteristics, and others, it is important to find the right type of oil for your particular lawnmower. Some even include additives to alter their viscosity, allowing them to flow when the engine is very hot or very cold.
So, what’s best for your mower? Read on as we find out whether SAE 30 or 10w30 oil is best suited for your lawnmower.
SAE30 VS 10w30: Are They The Same?
Both SAE 30 and 10w30 oils are commonly used in lawnmowers. But, this does not mean they are the same type of motor oil. Why? Well, it all comes down to how they are graded and classified.
Notice the number “30” in both types of oil. This number represents the viscosity measurement. This was set out as a standard by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) at 100 degrees Celsius.
Therefore, both SAE 30 and 10w30 have viscosity values of 30 when hot.
Okay, so the viscosity grade of both is the same, but here’s where the differences creep in. The “10w” represents another viscosity grade, but rather than being rated for hot temperatures, this is rated for cold conditions. The “w” represents “winter.”
10w30 oil has been rated for various viscosities at both hot and cold temperatures. Because it is graded twice, 10w30 motor oil is multi-grade. In cold, winter temperatures, its viscosity grade is 10, and when it is hot, its viscosity grade is 30.
SAE 30 oil is single-grade oil because its viscosity only gets rated once when hot.
The reason 10w30 oil is multi-grade and has different viscosities in different temperatures is down to additives in the oil’s properties.
When choosing between SAE 30 and 10w30 oil, you need to keep in mind the conditions you’re operating the mower. For older lawnmower models, SAE 30 is considered the safest option, but newer models are typically designed for use with 10w30.
If you’re unsure, consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or contact the manufacturer to discover what oil is recommended.
SAE 30 Oil Characteristics
The main characteristic of SAE 30 oil is its viscosity grade of 30 when used at high temperatures (Also check out The Main Differences Between SAE 30 And 5w30).
The SAE grading system goes from 0 to 60. Therefore, SAE 30 sits right in the middle. What does this mean? Simply put, SAE 30 has an average viscosity and is somewhat resistant to flowing.
As you can imagine, being smack, bang in the middle of the SAE ratings, SAE 30 is considered a standard oil type and is usually used in small engines.
Single-grade oil works best in simple engines with fewer moving parts. This is why SAE 30 is often used in older lawnmower models.
One key benefit of SAE 30 is that it tends to be quite affordable, especially when compared to multi-grade oils. However, its cost can depend on whether you buy standard, conventional oil, or a synthetic type.
As we have already mentioned above, 10w30 is a multi-grade oil because it has two different viscosity ratings that are based on the temperature it is used under.
When the temperature is hot, its viscosity rating is 30. When cold, its viscosity rating is 10.
Because of this dual viscosity, 10w30 can adapt to different temperatures and situations the engine may find itself in. This is why multi-grade oil is typically used in larger engines, such as cars, vans, and aeroplanes.
Large engines in these types of machines require lubrication, even when the temperatures are freezing outside, or when the engine is starting. Therefore, oil needs to flow easily.
Lawn mowing isn’t usually performed during the colder times of the year. Therefore, multi-grade oil, such as 10w30, is not generally required. Nonetheless, if you live in a region where the temperatures can get very cold during the mowing season, using a multi-grade oil like 10w30 may be a good option.
So, Can You Use 10w30 Instead Of SAE 30 In Your Lawnmower?
On occasions, it can actually be a good idea to use 10w30 oil instead of SAE 30 in your mower. Because 10w30 has an equal viscosity grade as SAE30 oil when used at running temperatures, you shouldn’t have any issues using it.
If you mow in colder temperatures, 10w30 may be the better option. Moreover, many new lawnmower models are designed to be compatible with 10w30 oil, rather than SAE 30.
Although SAE 30 oil has been the most commonly used oil in lawnmowers, things have started to change with 10w30 being recommended more and more for new models.
Can You Use SAE 30 Instead Of 10w30 In Your Lawnmower?
Using single-grade oil in a lawnmower can create some issues on occasions, but it is possible to use SAE 30 without facing any consequences. This is because the viscosity grade of both oil types is the same when hot.
It may be safe to use SAE 30 oil in your lawnmower if the temperatures where you mow rarely get very cold. Both types of oil flow the same when hot so using wither shouldn’t be an issue. So, if you don’t need to start your lawnmower in cold temperatures, SAE 30 should be safe to use.
If your owner’s manual recommends using SAE 30, then it is certainly safe to use. Nevertheless, this is mostly found with older lawnmowers. Always check the manufacturer’s manual before topping up or using new oil.
This way, you can be sure you’re using the right type of oil and not damaging your mower’s engine in any way.
Can You Use 10w40 Instead Of 10w30 Oil In A Lawnmower?
The majority of lawnmower engines are made with a viscosity rating of 30. 10w40 oil has a higher viscosity of 40 which may lead to your mower’s engine not being able to lubricate itself correctly.
Over time, this can result in additional wear and strain on the engine’s components, shortening its lifespan. Therefore, you should not use 10w40 oil in a lawnmower, unless the manual recommends it.
How Frequently Should You Change The Oil in A Lawnmower?
We recommend changing a push lawnmower’s oil after 50 hours of use. This equates to at least once a season on average (depending on how often you use you mow and how large your garden is).
For riding lawnmowers, it is recommended that the oil is changed every 100 hours of run time, or once a season. Regular maintenance and oil changes will help your mower last longer and run efficiently.
Generally speaking, both SAE 30 and 10w30 oils are very similar, but they are certainly not the same.
If you have an old mower and live in a hot climate, SAE 30 is the best option. If your mower is new or you live in a cold climate, 10W30 oil is the safer bet.
Always check your mower’s manual and manufacturer’s guidelines to see what oil is recommended. Therefore, you can be sure you’re not damaging the engine
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