Difference Between SAE 30 vs 10W30: Which Is Better?

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The right oil to use plays an essential role in ensuring optimal engine performance. 

If you are looking for a perfect choice for your lawn substore or any other engine, then you can pick between straight 30-grade oil and 10W30 grade oil. 

These oils are the most widely used recommended engine oil. But the big question is, what is the difference between SAE 30 and 10W30 oil? 

We have dug deep and done our research, and in this article, we provide a detailed comparison of SAE 30 and 10W30 oil.

SAE 30 and 10W30 Specifications

SAE GradeSAE 30 Oil10W30 Oil
Kinematic Viscosity at 40 degrees celsius88.767.5
Kinematic viscosity at 100 degrees celsius11.810.7
Pour Point, degree Celsius-24-27
Flash Point, degree Celsius205232
Oil TypeMotor OilEngine Oil
Temperature sustainabilityBetter performance in Warmer temperatureBest for winter regional areas

What is an SAE 30 Oil?


SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers. This oil is controlled by the Society of Automotive Engineers, with a grouping of 30. 

Generally, engine oils, as a rule, have a rating of 0 to 50. This oil type is ideal for use at high temperatures.

SAE 30 oil is best for small block air-cooled engines like generators, lawn mowers, chainsaws and table saws. It has a viscosity rating of 30 at an operating temperature of 100 degrees Celsius.

Top 3 SAE 30 Oils

Editor’s Choice
Briggs & Stratton 30W Engine Oil- 48 Oz. 100028
Briggs & Stratton 30W Engine Oil- 48 Oz. 100028
  • High-quality SAE30 oil
  • Formulated for higher operating temperatures of air-cooled engines.
  • Offers great value for your money.
Best Budget
Briggs & Stratton 100005 SAE 30W Engine Oil - 18 Oz
Briggs & Stratton 100005 SAE 30W Engine Oil - 18 Oz
  • Formulated for high operating temperatures of air-cooled engines.
  • Ensures proper performance to maintain the life of your Briggs and Stratton equipment.
  • High-quality SAE30 oil.
Highest Rated
Kawasaki 99969-6281 K-Tech SAE 30 4-Cycle Engine Oil
Kawasaki 99969-6281 K-Tech SAE 30 4-Cycle Engine Oil
  • Offers outstanding value for your money
  • Ensures smooth engine operation.
  • High-quality SAE30 oil.

What is 10W30 Oil?


The 10W30 oil has a low viscosity during cooler temperatures and a higher viscosity during higher operating temperatures. This oil is also known as multi-grade oil.

It is viable at temperatures as low as -16 degrees centigrade and can withstand warm temps up to 30 degrees centigrade. 

The “w” stands for winter and it is a measurement of viscosity during cooler temperatures.

Top 3 10W30 Oils

Editor’s Choice
Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 10W-30 Motor Oil 5 QT
Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 10W-30 Motor Oil 5 QT
  • Reduces expensive repairs
  • 25 percent better protection against deposits with extra engine-cleaning detergents.
  • Exceptional temperature protection and viscosity retention ensure a high level of defense.
Best Budget
Kohler 25-357-06-S 10W-30 Oil, Quart
Kohler 25-357-06-S 10W-30 Oil, Quart
  • Can withstand high temperatures.
  • High-quality oil
  • Enables the mower to operate smoothly and quietly.
Highest Rated
Kawasaki 99969-6081 K-Tech SAE 10W-30 4-Cycle Engine Oil
Kawasaki 99969-6081 K-Tech SAE 10W-30 4-Cycle Engine Oil
  • Ensures longer life and cleaner operation.
  • Protects against excessive viscosity decrease at high temperatures.
  • 10W-30 is diesel rated.

SAE 30 vs 10W30


These two types of oil may appear identical because they are both in a fluid state but there are few differences between them. Here are some factors that you can use to compare them:


The viscosity of an oil is usually referred to as the thickness of a liquid. SAE 30 has a thickness at high temperatures while SAE 10w30 has a 10w thickness at low temperatures. 

In terms of viscosity, we rate SAE 30 at 9/10 while SAE 10W30 is rated at 8/10.


SAE 30 weighs 0.8754 grams for each cubic centimeter, which means that the thickness of SAE 30 motor oil is equivalent to 875.4 kg/m3 at 30 degrees Celsius at standard air pressure.

10w30 is mostly used in heavy-duty 4-cycle engines. Its kinematic viscosity w is at 104-degree Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius)/100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the density at 60 degrees Fahrenheit is 0.875 * 103 kg/m3

In terms of density, the 10W30 gets 8/10 while SAE 30 gets 9/10 in rating.


SAE 30 oil is used for more modest air-cooled motors such as tractors, lawn mowers, generators, little farm vehicles and other cutting tools. SAE 30 contains fewer additives compared to 10w30 oils.

On the other hand, the 10w30 oil is best for mid-heavy duty 4-cycle engines. Although the oil can also be used in cold climates, it is also ideal for use during hot weather.

Most of its oils are currently multi-grade oils, enabling them to perform incredibly well in all seasons. In this case, SAE 30 gets 8/10 while 10w30 gets 9/10.

Operating Temperature

SAE 30 oils do not have superb cold stream properties. It is advisable to use them in pre-winter, summer and spring periods. 

The number “30” alludes to the kinematic thickness at 100 degrees Celsius. This contains 100 degrees Celsius, a scope at any rate of 9.3-12.4 mm2/s.

On the other hand, 10w30 is a multi-grade and standard oil. Its 10w viscosity is at a low temperature but it can maintain an ideal viscosity over a wider temperature range. In this case, both of them are rated 9/10.


SAE 30 oil has better wear protection and security, high safety against LSPI and eco-friendliness. The oil contains an ideal ethanol choice at a low price.

10w30 oil is suitable for engines more than 75,000 miles or longer. It reduces friction for less motor wear. 

Furthermore, it minimizes exhaust emissions and offers high protection from warm breakdown. In terms of price, 10w30 oil is not as high as SAE 30.

Can You Mix SAE30 And 10W30?

It is risky to mix different oils with different viscosities. There isn’t any assurance that you will get the desired viscosity in the final mix. 

While it is probably safe to mix different oil brands, it is not advisable to mix 10W30 and SAE 30 oils.

If you find it important to mix, stick to mixing multigrade oils or single grade oils with only the same type. 

Which Oil Should I Use For My Mower?

SAE 10W30 motor oil is commonly used in modern mowing machines. It works well in low starting temperatures and higher operating temperatures.

Older engines are built to work with SAE 30 oil, and as mentioned, will last longer at high temperatures. 

The thicker oil helps to protect the parts of the lawn mower over the long run. In terms of cold startups, the SAE 30 oil is not likely to cause problems.

To know the suitable oil type for your mower, check the mower’s manual for recommendations on the specific oil grade to use.

In most cases, 10w30 is the best oil to use for 4-stroke engines while a 2-cycle air-cooled engine can go well with SAE 30 oil.  

If your machine has a 4-stroke engine and the manual recommends 10W30 oil, it is perfect to use it or another similar multigrade oil.

Can I Use SAE 30 Instead Of 10W30?

While there are some cases where you can get away with using SAE30 oil instead of 10W30 oil, it is not advisable to do so. 

An older engine can make use of a single-grade oil during hot temperatures but this depends on the engine

Even in hot temperatures, multigrade oil is a preferable option to use. Most modern engines are designed to use multigrade oils and if the thick oil takes a long time to lubricate the parts of the engine, it can cause permanent damage.

How to Check Oil Level in Lawn Mower

Here are some steps to check the oil level of your lawn mower:

  • Open the plastic cap of the oil tank.
  • Push it a little and then, twist to open
  • Check the mower’s oil level. Ensure that it is between the two oil indicator signs.
  • If not, replace the oil filter and refill the oil tank.
  • In this case, there isn’t any need to overfill or fill oil above the first indicator sign.


We hope our article helps you select the best oil for your engine. In terms of usability, SAE30 oil is best for small block air-cooled engines like tractors, lawn mowers and generators while 10W30 oil is best for mid-heavy duty 4-cycle engines.

The SAE 30 oil is more efficient at high operating temperatures but if you need an oil that can work at a wide range of operating temperatures, it is best to select a 10w30 engine oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is SAE 30 The Same As 10W30?

No, it is not the same. The main difference between SAE30 and 10W30 is at lower temperatures where the viscosities might differ.

SAE 30 is a single grade oil which means that it can only guarantee the stated viscosity at higher temperatures while 10w30 is a multigrade oil, meaning that it can maintain a suitable viscosity over a wider temperature range.

Can I Use SAE 30 Instead Of 10W30?

There are situations where you can get away with using SAE 30 oil instead of 10w30 oil, but it is not recommended to do so. 

Using the SAE30 oil during cold temperatures might damage your engine.

What Is SAE 30 Oil Used For?

The SAE 30 oil is used for smaller air-cooled engines like the ones in chain saws, small tractors, lawn mowers and generators.