What Is The Difference Between Lawn Mower Oil And Car Oil?

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Recently, I experienced a low oil condition when using my lawn mower and realized I had run out of lawn mower oil. 

However, I had some car oil left over from previous use. I was about to use the car oil for my lawn mower when I asked myself, “Are lawn mower oil and car oil the same? And what is the difference between car oil and lawnmower oil?

If you have also found yourself asking these questions, keep reading to find out if you can use car oil in your lawnmower and to know the difference between lawnmower oil and car oil.

Is Lawn Mower Oil The Same As Car Engine Oil?

Lawnmower oils and car oils are comparable but distinct. These oils have various additives that differentiate them from each other.

The additives found in car oil are different from those in lawn mower oils. These car oil additives can harm small engines since they are not as strong as car engines. 


Can I Use Car Oil In My Lawnmower?

The answer to this question depends largely on your lawn mower engine type.

You should not use car oil in a mower with a two-stroke engine. Two-stroke engines require certain special oils for them to function effectively.

However, if you own a mower with a four-stroke engine, you can use some of the premium car oils for the mower

A four-stroke mower engine can often run on SAE-30 or 10W-30 oil. To confirm the kind of oil the engine requires, it is crucial to study your owner’s manual.

What Will Happen If I Use Car Oil In A Lawnmower?

The use of car oil in a two-stroke lawn mower engine will result in significant harm to the engine and its internal parts. 

If you use car oil in a four-stroke lawn mower’s engine, the engine will function normally as long as the type of oil is what the manual recommends.

Gas and oil are kept separate in four-stroke mowers. Most cars also come with larger versions of these kinds of engines. Therefore, if your engine is of this type, you can use car oil in your lawn mower.

As opposed to four-stroke engines, two-stroke engines are compact and light. The way they work allows the gas and oil to combine before combustion. 

The oil used in this type of engine needs to be light to lubricate the delicate and fast-moving engine parts. Using car oil in a two-stroke engine mower will damage the engine.

What Oil Goes In A Four-Stroke Lawnmower Engine?

For four-stroke engines operating in warmer climates, SAE 30 oil is the best oil to use. While for extremely cold climates, 10W30 engine oil is the ideal type of oil to use.

Temperature is one of the main elements that affect engine oil because it affects the oil’s viscosity and ability to coat moving parts.

Additives that help maintain the oil’s viscosity are not used in engines made for warmer climates such as in SAE30 oil

But these viscosity-preserving additives are used in 10W30 oil making them the best option for four-stroke mowers used in cold regions.

What Oil Goes In A Two-Stroke Engine?

Your two-stroke lawn mower engine will run flawlessly with any two-stroke motor oil designed for air-cooled engines, such as those in chainsaws, water pumps, and weed eaters.

Here are some engine oils you can use for your two-stroke mower:

  • The ideal engine oil for higher temperatures is SAE 30 oil.
  • 10w-30 oil is best used in colder climates
  • SAE 5w-30 oil is suitable for use in both warm and cold climates.

What Happens If You Don’t Change Oil In A Lawnmower?

Not changing the oil in a lawnmower will result in stale and insufficient oil. 

Stale and insufficient oil can clog the engine and will lead to increased friction, overheating, and wear and tear of engine parts.

This will cause considerable damage to your mower’s engine in the long term. In extreme circumstances, it will lead to engine damage and shorten the lifespan of your mower. 

How Often Should I Change Lawnmower Oil?

Change the oil in your walk-behind mower at least once a season or every 50 hours of use.

Riding mowers should have their oil changed at least once a season or after every 100 hours of operation.

But remember, these are only general recommendations. Depending on various conditions, such as extreme temperatures, or an excessive amount of dust, you might need to change your oil more frequently than this.

The amount of oil necessary for your lawn mower is listed in the owner’s manual, but you’ll be good if you keep to the dipstick oil level mark that comes with the lawn mower engine.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Do I Know If My Lawnmower Needs Oil?

Use a dipstick to check the oil level in the oil reservoir of your mower. Your mower needs oil if the oil level falls on or below the ‘Add’ mark.

2. How Long Can A Lawnmower Run Without Oil?

A lawn mower cannot run without engine oil. It may start and run for a few seconds but this will damage the engine parts severely.

3. Will A Lawnmower Start With Low Oil?

A lawnmower with a low oil sensor will not start with low oil. A lawnmower without a low oil sensor may start and run rough or shut down after a while.


The quickest way to shorten the life of your lawn mower is to use the wrong type of oil or low-quality engine oil.

Using car oil in your 2-stroke mower will damage the engine but a good quality car oil will function well in a 4-stroke engine mower.

However, make sure to check your owner’s manual and use only the oil types recommended by the manufacturer to avoid causing harm to the engine.