Can I Use 10W30 Instead of SAE30 in My Lawn Mower?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

For many homeowners, choosing the grade of oil they use in their lawn mower can be tricky. A common oil grade that people use in their lawn mower is SAE30. However, many people wonder whether or not they can swap out the SAE30 in favor of 10W30.

You can definitely use 10W30 engine oil instead of the SAE30 in your mower. Older engines benefit from using SAE30, while newer engines mostly use 10W30. While SAE30 is ideal for use during warmer temperatures, it is too thin at low temperatures. 10W30 is thicker, and so the higher viscosity makes it suitable for wintertime or year-round use.

Swapping out motor oil in your lawn mower is not a frivolous decision, so you will want to put thought into it. Follow along and see what you should consider before choosing between 10W30 and SAE30 for your lawn mower.

What is SAE30?

SAE30 is a type of motor oil. The 30 in its name refers to its viscosity rating. Viscosity ratings are determined by how the oil pours at different temperatures.

One of the things that SAE30 is known for is that handles warm temperatures well. That is due to its viscosity, or overall thickness. To better understand oil viscosity, refer to the figure below.

Society of Automotive Engineers ScaleIdeal for Specific Climate

The 0W-25W figures are ideal for cold climates. In fact, the “W” refers to winter. Motor oils ranging from 0W to 25W are considered to be thin. All of the oil grades without a “W” moniker are thicker and better for warm climates.

Specifically, SAE30 motor oil is quite viscous. It is not as thick as the thickest grade, which is 60, but SAE30 oil has high viscosity. Because of that, it is perfect for lawn mowers.

What is 10W30?

10W30 is considered multi-viscosity motor oil. What that means is that it is a combination of sorts of two different viscosities.

That combination is marked by the 10W, meaning low viscosity, and the 30, meaning high viscosity. It seems contradictory, doesn’t it?

In a way, it is contradictory, but in fact, the strange combination is what makes 10W30 so versatile. The 10W component of it makes 10W30 ideal for cold weather.

Conversely, the 30 in the moniker 10W30 means that it also great for warm weather. The key advantage to 10W30 motor oil is that you can use it in your mower all year long.

Not only that, but when the cold weather hits, starting your mower will be quick using 10W30. Generally speaking, most modern lawn mowers are equipped to use 10W30 oil.

Can You Use 10W30 Over SAE30 in Your Mower?

Yes, you can, but you need to consider the climate around you. If you are in a climate that is quite warm year round, SAE30 may be all that you need.

After all, if your climate is constantly warm, you won’t need the multi-viscosity that 10W30 provides. If you don’t experience changes in temperature where you live, the thickness of SAE30 is perfect for your mower.

However, if you live somewhere that experiences the seasons in full, 10W30 is your best bet. That way, when it gets cold you don’t need to worry about your mower failing to start. Plus, the 10W30 will help your mower handle heat just as well.

Besides the benefits of handling many temperatures, 10W30 oil can also protect your mower. That is because 10W30 protects your engine from contaminates that can cause corrosion and clogging.

Does it Matter Which Type of Oil I Use?

Yes, it matters because it affects the performance of your lawn mower. In effect, your mower can only run as well as the oil that you put into it.

If you live in a bitterly cold climate and strictly use SAE30 motor oil in your mower, you are going to have problems. That is because SAE30 will be way too thick and viscous for your mower to handle it in the cold.

You want to use a motor oil that will let you get the most out of your mower, like 10W30.

Using SAE30 is ultimately somewhat limiting for your lawn mower. Due to the versatility of 10W30 motor oil, it is the best option that you have. Hot or cold, 10W30 motor oil will get your lawn mower running.

It is worth noting that some forms of 10W30 motor oil contains oil detergent. Oil detergent essentially cleans your engine by keeping sludge out of it.

The Importance of Checking Your Oil

Checking the oil in your mower is just as important as using the right one. If your oil levels get too low, you often can’t even start the mower.

However, if your mower has too much oil, it can lead to smoking and trouble keeping it running. To ensure that your mower’s engine will stay in good shape, you need to check the oil.

Follow these steps to check your lawn mower’s oil level.

1. Allow Your Lawn Mower to Cool Off

It is not safe to check your oil level when your lawn mower is hot. As such, allow your lawn mower to cool off to the point where it is effectively cold.

You also want to make sure that your lawn mower is on even ground.

2. Find the Dipstick

The dipstick is typically attached to the oil cap. Take the fill tube and twist it gently until it comes open revealing the dipstick.

Before you can check the oil level, clean off the dipstick. That way, you can make sure that your reading is accurate.

3. Re-insert the Dipstick

Stick the dipstick back into the mower. Turn the cap carefully until it locks in. Now, turn it the opposite direction and remove the dipstick once again.

Look at the dipstick very carefully. As long as the hole is near the top of the dipstick where the maximum oil fill line is located, your oil level is good.

If the oil is nowhere close to the fill line, it is a sign that you need more oil.

4. Add More Oil If Necessary

Slowly add more oil to the mower. You don’t want to overdo it, or else you’ll be just as bad off as if you had too little oil.

Now, reinsert the dipstick and close the cap. Remove the dipstick again and check the level. Hopefully, now your oil is at the right level. If not, continue to carefully add oil until you reach the fill line.

What Did We Learn?

Not only can you use 10W30 over SAE30 motor oil in your lawn mower, but it is a great idea. SAE30 motor oil is perfect for warm temperatures, however.

With that said, 10W30 motor oil performs well in both cold and warm temperatures, so it is a better choice than SAE30. Oil is extremely important to your lawn mower and you want to make sure to check your levels regularly.

Use your mower’s dipstick to check the oil level to make sure that it never gets too low. When refilling your lawn mower with oil, make sure not to add too much. If you add too much, you will have trouble starting the mower.

Choosing 10W30 for your lawn mower is a great option.

Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

More by Nick Durante