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What's with 0W-20 oil

I recently got a car (2011 Camry) which calls for 0W-20 oil. I know that the “W” stands for “winter,” but since since I live in South Florida where winter is minimal (it might plummet into the 30’s a couple of times a year,) do I really need to be concerned about the winter characteristics? Wouldn’t 5W-20 be equally OK for the engine?
How can I think about this?

Well, 0w20 oil is synthetic, where 5w20 can be either conventional or synthetic. Perhaps Toyota calls for 0w20 because they feel it needs a synthetic oil? What does the Owner’s Manual say about other weights of oil?

(I’m guessing you can find 5w20 cheaper, is why you’re asking. That probably means you’re comparing synthetic 0w20 with 5w20.)

It’s all about improving flow and lessening drag on motor during startup conditions. Fed regs are demanding improved fuel economy. The viscosity of oil doubles for every 10deg temp drop. 70f oil is much thicker than 200f oil. A car that is spec’d for 5-30 or 10-30 can certainly use 0-30. If u choose. Almost all cold oil is bypassed by oil pump via pressure relief valve. U need it really when motor is outside, in -20f temps.

Just a note, “W” stands for weight not winter. I would stick with recommended oil.

meanjoe, I stand corrected.

Ed B.

^No, it means “winter.” In the single-weight days, there was 20 and there was 20w. The latter was better, somehow, for winter driving…that’s as much as I know about it.

I live in Florida too, and if I owned a 2011 Camry, I’d use the 0W-20 oil called for in the owner’s manual. I’m not saying 5W-20 would hurt anything, but you’ll get better fuel economy with 0W-20 oil and you’ll keep your warranty valid if you have one.

Just a note, "W" stands for weight not winter.

NO…W stands for Winter.

If you are bored this afternoon review previous discussions here on this subject @FlaGeezer. We have worn the subject out.

I live in Hawaii where 99% of the time the temperature is between 65F and 85F. I use 10w-30 in my 2006 Honda Accord V6 and 30w oil in my 1993 Ford Explorer. According to this chart would I be better off using the single weight 30 in both cars? Note that the double asterisks says that for the 5W-20 oil " Do not use for continuous high speed driving". What’s with that???

Yep we’ve been there before. Use what the manufacturer tells you to use. The engine is engineered for 0-20 not 5-20 or 10-30 or 15-45 etc. Take your pick, either full synthetic or Honda blended for $8 a quart either way.

I would not use single weight oil in any modern engine. Use the car makers recommended oil for your climate.

Yes, well I think that was the whole point of the OP asking if the car manufacturer’s recommendation of oil to use makes sense for his particular location. For some reason that chart that I tried to link to my previous post did not appear but the charts that I have seen show that the single weight 30 oil is good from 30F to 104F ambient. Whereas the 5w-20 recommended by Honda ( I realize that they have to make that recommendation for the whole world, so it is a CyA posture) goes from -15F to 68F. Clearly in my case, it would make sense to use the 30w. But hey, judging from the previous comments from veteran posters, this is beating a dead horse! ;o) Anyway, FWIW…

There is a lot going on backstage with 0W-20 oil. It’s not just the viscosity but also the additive package that only this engine lubricant has…When you buy 0W-20, you are getting a 100% synthetic that meets all kinds of other specifications related to anti-sludging and long drain intervals…Consumers understand “Use 0W-20 oil only” much better than they understand use a motor oil meeting Toyota specification HDMOLV/5567BH/ 677849…You use 0W-20, you automatically get the correct oil…

Caddyman nailed it, IMHO.

Toyota specifies 0w20 for maximum fuel economy and 10,000 mile or 1 year oil changes. They also say you can use 5w20 if you can’t get the 0w20 but must change at 5000 miles or 6 months.

0w-20 synthetic is a better oil then non synthetic alternatives. Whether you decide to or not, it can be used for extended intervals of up to 10k miles. Even of you decide not to extend it that far, you can feel more comfortable knowing that if you change it normally at 5 k miles and take trip, delaying it to say 7.5k, it will be perfectly fine. IMHO, it’s use is a no brainier. It turns over easier in cold weather and decreases start up wear and even though it appears to be a lower weight oil at 20 on the high end then say 5w-30 weight, it maintains it’s viscosity at higher temps better.

Non synthetic “needs” a higher viscosity rating to cushion it from thermal break down while synthetic does not. That’s my take…and I use it and will continue to. Right now because I took an un scheduled trip, I am almost 2k over on the vehicle that does not use synthetic. I am much more concerned then if it happens on the one with synthetic. Either way, if you have changed your oil regularly through out it’s life, an occasional hickup is no big deal.

I use the oil that the owner’s manual recommends whether it’s synthetic or dino. If the owner’s manual says that I can step up a grade I will usually do that since I live in a temperate zone. When I lived in colder climates…I used the recommended oil without fail. I won’t second guess the manufacturer.

And no matter what you use, remember to monitor your oil level regularly, especially just after oil changes (in case there’s a leak). Get to know how much oil your engine uses, and make sure it never gets below the FILL line. Perhaps the most common cause of an engine’s self-destructing is ignoring the oil level until it gets too low.

Happy motoring.

Stick with the 0W20! It has much better film strength and resistance to thinning out in hot nweather due to a higher viscosity index, which is the resistance to thinning out and to thickening in cold weather.

A regular cheap 5W20 mineral oil will be highly taxed in very hot weather with the A/C on, and tralier towing with such an oil is asking for highly increased engine wear or outright failure.

Our 2012 Mazda3 calls for 0W20 oil and that’s what it will get. In hot countries without fuel economy standards they will put 5W30 in your car to make sure the oil film on the bearings will be sufficient under stress.

I had a conversation with the service manager (not the service writer) at the Toyota dealership where I bought my 2011 Toyota Sienna. I took it in for the oil change at 5000 miles as specified in the owner’s manual. The manager told me that Toyota had come out with a new recommendation that the oil change mileage had been extended to 10,000 miles. All they did was reset the maintenance reminder light for no charge. I was skeptical, but the service manager and I sat down and talked about this over a cup of coffee. He is an older person (not as old as I am) and said that oils had improved over the years that I had owned a car and that the synthetic 0W-20 takes care of the engine no matter what climate I operate the car. Less than a week after talking to the service manager, I received a letter from Toyota that did, in fact, supersede the owner’s manual and extended the interval to 10,000 miles. However, my maintenance light still comes on at 5000 miles and has to be reset. In the summer months, I have gone 10,000 miles between changes and have not had to add any oil before the oil change.