SAE 30 vs 10W30: Which One is Better?

Written by

Charles Bolte


Vernon Hoppe 

sae 30 vs 10w30

There are many varieties of engine oil in the market from different brands, available as synthetic or blends with varying viscosity. While all of these oils work well in lubrication, cleaning, and reducing friction, some engines require specific types of oil depending on their age, make, and climate.

Today, we will look at two types of engine oils, SAE 30 vs 10w30, and see the differences between them and which would be the best one for you.

Factors SAE 30 10w30
Viscosity Thicker at higher temperatures Variable thickness depending on temperature
Temperature Range Works on operating temperature Can be used in both cold and warm temperatures
Engine Compatibility Older car engines, tractors, lawnmowers New car engines, generator, pressure washers

What Does SAE 30 Mean?


SAE 30 is a type of monograde oil that is used for engine lubrication and lawn mower engines. SAE stand for the Society of Automotive Engineers, an organization that sets the standards for automotive engineering across the globe.

SAE 30 is a viscosity specification of engine oil. The number “30” represents the kinematic viscosity of the oil at operating temperature or 100℃. This means that SAE 30 oil viscosity is higher compared to oils with lower values.

For example, SAE 30 is thicker than SAE 20 and SAE 12 engine oils.

10w30 Oil Meaning


10w-30 is a multi-viscosity oil commonly used in cars. This means that the oil has different thickness depending on temperatures. For higher temperatures, the oil is rated at 30, while at lower temperatures, it is rated at 10.

Lower temperatures require less viscosity. This is shown as the “W” or winter value of the oil, or the viscosity of the oil during cold starts.

Similarity and Difference Between SAE 30 and 10w30

1. Viscosity


As discussed earlier, SAE 30 is a monograde oil while 10w30 is multi-viscosity. That means if we compare 10w30 vs SAE 30, the former has a lower viscosity rating in cold temperatures and a similar thickness to its counterpart at operating temperature.

2. Temperature range

The engine’s temperature and the surrounding area are big factors when choosing the right engine oil. If you’re living in a colder climate, you would want to have an engine with a lower viscosity while a thicker one would work best in a warmer climate.

Is SAE 30 equivalent to 10w30 when it comes to high operating temperature? Yes. However, 10w30 engine oil is a versatile oil that offers a wider range of performance compared to SAE 30.

Check out this temperature equivalent chart to see the comparison between SAE 30, 10w30, and other engine viscosities.


3. Engine compatibility. When should you use SAE 30 or 10w30?


SAE 30 motor oil works best for engines constantly under high operating temperatures. You’ll find SAE 30 oil used for older engines like tractors, chainsaws, and lawnmowers, such as Kawasaki fr730v

Between SAE 30 oil vs 10w30, the former will work better in older engines and provide better lubrication and engine protection.

10w30, on the other hand, is used in more modern engines. Since it has a variable viscosity at lower and higher temps, the oil is used in most modern cars, generators, and pressure washer.

4. Cost


In terms of pricing, SAE 30 and 10W30 oils have similar costs, around 10 dollars per quart. But 10W30 oils can be cheaper, retailing for as little as 5 dollars for some brands.

Pros and Cons

Since we have a good idea about the similarities and differences between 10w30 vs SAE 30, let’s take a good look at the pros and cons of each oil type.

1. SAE 30

  • Works best at high operating temperatures
  • Can be used for older and smaller engines
  • Will not work in cold climates
  • Not recommended for use in larger more modern engines

2. 10w30

  • Multi-viscosity oil that can work in cold and warm environments
  • Can be used in larger and more modern engines
  • Is not as thick as SAE 30 under high operating temperatures

Recommended Brands for Motor Oil

The importance of good engine oil cannot be understated. With the right high-quality engine oil, your car can be properly lubricated and protected so that it can last a long time.

Here are the top 5 best brands of motor oil for your vehicle.

1. Mobil 1


Mobil 1 is one of the industry leaders and innovators when it comes to automotive products. With a huge catalog of transmission fluids, oil filters, and more, Mobil 1 has been at the forefront of new technologies and was one of the first adaptors of synthetic engine oil.

2. Valvoline


Since 1866, Valvoline has been a staple in American car culture. Nowadays, Valvoline offers advanced synthetic engine oil in different viscosities. With high-mileage motor oils and a long history of quality, you can’t go wrong with Valvoline.

3. Castrol


Castrol are the masters of liquid engineering, and having good quality oil in your new European or American car is important. Castrol provides a long list of motor oils to support any kind of car in the market today.

4. STP


Popular for its high mileage oil that can operate for 5000 to 7000 miles, STP is one of the best engine oil brands in the world. Its extra protection and lubrication might be on the more expensive side of things, but the price is worth it.

5. Pennzoil


Available in more than 70 countries in the world, Pennzoil is a global brand of engine oil. The company is known for Pennzoil Platinum, the first motor oil made from natural gas.

Mineral vs Synthetic Oil: Which One is Better for Your Engine?


Engine oils come in different types. Nowadays, there are 2 main types, mineral and synthetic oil. Each has its own unique characteristic and offers different benefits.

  • Mineral oil

Mineral oil is derived from crude petroleum and is refined to remove most impurities. This traditional engine oil has been used for many years and in many engines. However, it has limited thermal stability and will change its viscosity much faster when exposed to extreme temperatures.

  • Synthetic oil

Synthetic oils are man-made chemical mixtures that are designed to fit the needs of any given engine. Some synthetic oils contain some amount of petroleum, but there are others that can be made from natural gas.

These oils undergo a complex manufacturing and refining process, resulting in a much more uniform oil. They can withstand high temperatures and can be made with multi-viscous properties.

  • The Winner: Synthetic oil

For most modern engines, synthetic oil is the best choice. It provides better engine performance, especially under extreme temperatures, lasts longer, and provides better mileage. Although synthetic oil is much more expensive than mineral oil, the difference in quality can be extreme and is well worth the extra money you spend.

However, it is important to note that different engines require different oils as well, and you should always check your car manual.

Frequently Asked Questions


Oil Viscosity: What does it rate?

SAE or the Society of Automotive Engineers rates engine oil based on its viscosity. This is related to the oil’s ability to operate at different temperatures.

Oils with a higher number are more viscous, and those with a number followed by the letter “W” like 10W30 are multi-viscosity oil that can work even in winter.

Can I mix SAE 30 with 10w30?

Yes, you can mix SAE 30 and 10w30. Mixing them will make the oil viscosity lower than SAE 30 but higher than 10w30. The major downside is that oil additives can be diluted and cause more wear and tear in the car.

Can using the wrong motor oil damage my car’s engine?

Using the wrong oil for your engine can cause it to be under-lubricated and overheat. Using the wrong oil can also lead to leaks and low fuel efficiency.

Can I use SAE 30 instead of 10w30?

SAE 30 is not a good equivalent oil for 10w30 if you’re using the latter for cars or cold environments. Using SAE 30 oil this way may lead to warranty loss and engine wear.

Is SAE 30 the same as 10w30?

No. SAE 30 weight oil vs 10w30 is not the same type of oil. SAE 30 is much more viscous and works on smaller engines. 10w30, on the other hand, is multi-viscous and is used in modern cars.

What is the difference between SAE 30 vs 5w30?

SAE 30 is made for smaller and older engines, while 5w30 is a multi-viscosity synthetic oil that is commonly used for larger vehicle engines.

What is the difference between SAE 30 vs 10w40?

Much like other multi-viscosity oil, 10w40 works best in fluctuating temperatures. SAE 30, on the other hand, is much thicker and is best used for engines operating at higher temperatures.


There are many types of engine oils in the market. Knowing the differences and similarities between them can greatly help you when you are choosing the right product for your engine.

SAE 30 vs 10w30 are two different types of oils with distinct characteristics that are better for certain types of engines and operating conditions.

Ultimately, the choice between SAE 30 and 10W30 depends on a lot of factors such as the age of the engine, the intended application, and the temperature range.

Looking at your car or equipment manual and seeking professional advice can help ensure that you choose the best type of oil for your needs and maximize performance and longevity.

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