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0W20 or 5W20 oil?

I recently purchased a 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid. My owner’s manual recommends that I use 0W20 oil but says I can also use 5W20. This week I hit 5000 miles and had the oil changed using 0W20 oil at $9.75 a quart. 5W20 would have cost $4.75. My mechanic said I could drive longer between oil changes because the 0W20 is a synthetic oil and lasts longer. That may be true, but the warranty requires an oil change every 5000 miles or 6 months, whichever occurs first. Is there enough benefit to pay for 0W20 or would I be just as well off using 5W20? In fairness to my mechanic I was the one who asked for the 0W20. He wasn’t pushing it. Do I need a Tom and Ray “dope slap?”

Use what’s recommended in your owner’s manual and change it every 5000 miles. The folks that wrote that manual know your engine’s requirements better than anybody else including a mechanic.

0W20 will give you slightly less wear at cold startup than 5W20. Since you have a hybrid, you may have more start cycles than most cars. I would stick with the 0W20, you can get it for cheaper than the $10 you got. I think that it’s around $7 usually.

No matter if you use a synthetic oil or a regular oil you always follow the vehicle manufacturers oil service recommendations. That’s because the manufacturer of the vehicle doesn’t care what type of oil is used in the engine, and that’s why there’s no distinction in the owners manual of oil service intervals if synthetic or regular oil is used.

And also remember, when the engines were tested on a dyno to determine it’s longevity, I can assure you it was tested with both synthetic and regular oils. And if the manufacturer of the engine saw any benefit in using synthetic oil it would be reflected in the owners manual.


If you car is routinely subjected to BELOW ZERO starting temperatures, then the synthetic oil might be worth the added cost in the winter time. In the summer, you are wasting your money…

0w-20 assures a synthetic. Whether 5w or 0w it could be a synthetic. The 0w aspect is as applicable, in terms of cold performance, as your temp dictates. That is, a 0w-20 is no more beneficial to one person in a given temp range as someone else with a 5w-20 in another. All engines transition through an extremely broad span of viscosity between the first crank to full temp.

To make my point clear, take two engines that spec 5w-20. Put one in Sioux Falls @ -40 wiht 5w-20 and put one at the Texas Panhandle with 15w-40 @ 100F. Which one has the highest viscosity at startup? How much further up the ramp to normalized viscosity will the 15w-40 be for a very long time just due to the ambient starting temp? It will only be at a disadvantage for the tail end of a 20 minute event. Even then it may be a YMMV situation.

That said for perspective, the Toyota fluid, assuming it is GENUINE Toyota 0w-20, has an extremely high viscosity index.

There are many ways to look at things. At roughly $10 a quart, if it takes 5 quarts, that is $50 for 5,000 miles. For 100,000 miles, that will be done 20 times. 20 times $50 is $1,000. For a car that cost some tens of thousands of dollars new, the most expensive of all choices will be a rather small portion of your total costs for the car.

I am not saying do not consider cheaper choices, My point is research it out carefully before you go to a cheaper choice, which from comments by posters here is a valid choice.