Can You Use Car Oil in a Lawn Mower? SOLVED

Lawnmowers are complex machines that require more care than we often think they do. One of the most important things to check on for your lawnmower is the oil. But can you use car oil in a lawn mower?

If you’ve been curious to learn about changing the oil of your lawnmower, we’re here to help. Read on for a quick guide on what oil to use and how to change your lawnmower’s oil.

What Oil Should You Use in a Lawnmower?

Not all oils are equal, and neither are all engines! Depending on the type of lawnmower you have, the type of oil you use will change. Here’s a quick look at some of the most common kinds.

Oil for 2-Cycle Lawnmower

When using a 2-cycle lawnmower, you should use motor oil made for air-cooled engines. These types of engines are in chainsaws, weed eaters, and other such tools and engines.

Engine oil that’s best suited for warmer temperatures is ideal for these tools. SAE 30 is often a good choice for this. SAW 5W-30 is a good synthetic option.

Oil for 4-Cycle Lawnmower

For a 4-cycle lawnmower, it’s best to consult your owner’s manual and see what they suggest. While you can sometimes substitute oils or use several options, more complex engines will work better with their ideal oil.

One of the most common grades for a 4-cycle lawnmower is 10W30. It can vary, but you will usually be safe using 10W30 oil for a 4-cycle lawnmower.

Does It Matter What Oil You Put in a Lawn Mower?

There’s much debate over what sort of oil to put in your lawnmower, or if it matters, to begin with.

Some experts believe that you should use what many refer to as “small engine oil.” As the name hints, this is oil made specifically for smaller engines. Many chainsaws, lawnmowers, and other motorized tools will call for this oil.

However, many disagree and feel this is a sort of marketing scheme. They say that oil fit for “large” engines is perfectly suitable. 

Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, using the correct type of oil is still necessary. Using engine oil that’s better suited to warm temperatures on a snowy day can lead to your engine seizing up or other complications. Conversely, using cold weather oil in warm temperatures can cause it to overheat easily.

Make sure you’re checking your lawnmower’s manual to see what sort of oil best suits your lawnmower. Doing so can prevent you from damaging your mower’s engine and extend its lifespan considerably.

Is Car Oil the Same as Lawnmower Oil?

There are many similarities between lawnmower oil and car oil. However, they are not the same product and cannot necessarily work in the same situations.

The primary difference is that the additives will differ. Lawnmower engines are sensitive to additives that you may find in car oil. These additives can cause damage to your engine, so make sure that you’re using adequate oil!

Can You Use Car Oil in a Lawn Mower?

Not necessarily, as there are differences in the engines that can cause issues for you down the road. Here are some of the most common oils and whether you can use them in your lawnmower.

Can I Use 10W30 Motor Oil in My Lawnmower?

10W30 motor oil is one of the most common oils that you can use in a lawnmower. It’s commonplace with 4-cycle lawnmowers. You can likely use 10W30 motor oil in any 4-cycle lawnmower without hesitation.

Can I Use 10W40 in My Lawnmower?

10W40 oil has a higher viscosity than most other oils. That is to say, it’s much thicker and isn’t suited for all engines.

Thick oil can sometimes fail to help your engine lubricate itself. Because of this, it isn’t well suited to most lawnmowers. It’s best to avoid this oil unless your owner’s manual calls for it directly.

Can I Use 5W30 Motor Oil in My Lawnmower?

5W30 is the ideal viscosity for an outdoor engine. It works well in most temperatures, including warmer climates. You can often use 5W30 Synthetic oil in most lawnmower engines without fear.

Can I Use 15W50 in My Lawnmower?

15W50 engine oil is better suited to warmer temperatures. If your engine is suited to 5W30, there’s a good chance that it can use 15W50.

That said, 15W50 is best for hot temperatures. You may want to use it if your climate is too hot for 5W30. If you live in a cold climate, you should likely avoid 15W50, as the temperature is likely too cold for you to safely use it.

Can I Use SAE 30 Lawnmower Oil?

SAE 30 is great engine oil in most situations for your lawnmower. It operates well in all temperatures except for extreme cold. However, it’s unlikely you’re going to cut your grass in temperatures cold enough to affect the oil’s performance.

Generally speaking, you can use SAE 30 oil as lawnmower oil. You’ll likely find many lawnmowers that call for it directly.

Can I Use Mobil 1 Synthetic Oil in My Lawnmower?

As far as the use goes, yes, you should be able to use Mobil 1 Synthetic Oil in your lawnmower without fear. It’s an excellent synthetic oil and one that should work well with nearly any lawnmower engine.

However, many people raise concerns about economic value in such a situation. Mobil 1 is a pricy oil and higher quality than most lawnmowers require. You can often get by without using such well-made oil and not harm your machine.

Types of Motor Oil

Motor oil comes in multiple different options. Here are the four most common categories of motor oil for you to look for when choosing oil for your lawnmower:

  • Conventional Motor Oil: Primarily made of crude oil with additives – this is the most common motor oil and often the cheapest.
  • High-Mileage Engine Oil: As the name suggests, this engine oil is best suited to increase or extend the mileage of a vehicle. As such, it’s overkill for most lawnmower engines.
  • Synthetic Motor Oil: Motor oil that is made of synthetic compounds. Typically more expensive, these oils are tuned to fit your engines perfectly. 
  • Synthetic Blend Motor Oil: Blended motor oil is a combination of conventional and synthetic motor oil. The result is usually higher quality than conventional motor oils without being as expensive as fully-synthetic motor oil.

How Often Do You Change Lawnmower Oil?

Knowing when to change the oil in your lawnmower is a tricky task. For cars and other vehicles, we can typically look at our mileage and know when it’s time. Some newer models of cars will even say directly when your oil needs changing.

Lawnmowers rarely have such features, and we don’t have mileage to observe. Instead, the best way to look at it is with the time used.

Generally speaking, you should change your oil roughly every fifty hours of use. Your engine is small, which means the oil will be worn through much quicker than a larger vehicle. It also is more likely to get dirty given its use case.

A good way to math this out is to measure how long it takes you to mow. Once you’ve done this, you can simply divide the time into fifty hours to see how many times you can mow before you need to change the oil.

It doesn’t have to be exact, so don’t stress about getting the perfect date to change your oil. It’s also better to change it too soon than too late! If your oil needs changing, it can damage your engine. A lawnmower that doesn’t undergo an oil change often enough will wear out much quicker than it usually would.

Verdict: Can You Use Car Oil in a Lawnmower?

Generally speaking, there isn’t much of an issue in using car oil in your lawnmower. It’s more important to have the correct type of oil than to worry about whether it’s suited for a small engine.

Many experts claim that “small engine” oil is better for your lawnmower. While there is a notable difference, you shouldn’t suffer too terrible of consequences from using car oil. Make sure that the oil you’re using is suited to your temperature and climate, and ensure that you’re changing it with the proper frequency.

Changing the Oil in Your Lawnmower

Now that we’ve covered what sorts of oil you can use in your lawnmower, how do you change it? Some are intimidated by working with machinery, but it isn’t difficult. Here are the steps to a quick and easy oil change.

Remember: if you’re concerned about doing it incorrectly, you should seek a professional. Some shops and mechanics will perform upkeep on your tools for a modest price. If you’re ready to do it yourself, follow this quick guide.

Check Oil Level Using the Dipstick

One of the first things you’ll need to do is to check the oil level. At times, the oil in the engine may seem like it needs changing, but the only issue is that it’s low. In these situations, you can add more engine oil until you can fully change it.

Lower the dipstick into the oil well to measure the depth of the oil. Most dipsticks will have marks to show how deep the oil is. Once measured, you can drain it easily or see if you simply need to add more.

Run the Engine to Reduce Oil Viscosity

Most oil is thick and viscous, making it difficult to drain. In colder weather, the oil may become especially viscous. When you begin to drain the oil, the viscosity can cause some dirty oil to stay behind, damaging your engine.

Because of this, a good way to get the oil to drain easier is to simply increase the temperature. You can accomplish this easily but letting the engine run. It shouldn’t take very long for the oil to warm up enough to flow easier.

If you turn the engine off and the oil is still too viscous, simply run the lawnmower again. A good habit is to change the oil after you mow! That way, it’s ready to go when you need it again, and the oil is already warm.

Drain the Oil

With the oil properly warmed, you can drain the oil. Every lawnmower is different in how you drain the oil, so consult your user manual on how best to do it with your model.

One important thing to keep in mind is how you’ll dispose of the used oil. Collect it in an oil pan or other safe container. If the oil is exceptionally hot, ensure the container is heat resistant.

Afterward, many mechanics or shops will have an oil collection depot. Bring it to these locations to properly dispose of the oil.

Pour in the New Oil

Once the old oil is out, ensure any oil plugs or similar parts are back in place. Afterward, you can safely pour in the old oil.

Be careful not to overfill the oil reservoir. Doing so can cause the oil to bubble over when you begin to mow, as the oil may bubble over during operation.

It’s common to smell burnt oil shortly after a change. Oftentimes, this means that you added too much. It may also signal that you spilled some outside of the oil reservoir. 

In most cases, the excess will burn off, but keep track of the situation. If the smell remains, there may be an oil leak.

Verdict: Can You Use Car Oil in a Lawn Mower

So, can you use car oil in a lawnmower? Overall, the answer is yes. While some experts will recommend small engine oil, you usually won’t have any negative effects from using traditional oil. 

10W30 is the most commonly used oil. You may also consider using synthetic oil to keep your engine healthy and fine-tuned. However, many feel that synthetic oil is overkill and too high of quality for the relatively-simple engines.

Would you like to learn more about caring for your mechanical tools? Be sure to browse our website for more information!