What Type of Oil For A Lawn Mower?

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To keep your lawn mower working at an optimal level, you need to get the right mower oil type. 

But the big question is, what type of oil for a lawn mower enhances optimal performance?

Keep reading as we take a good look at the different mower oil types and what makes one the best for your lawn mower engine.

In a hurry? Check our top 3 recommendations:

Top 3 Oil Types for Lawn Mowers

Best Budget
Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil, 5 QT
Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil, 5 QT
  • Provides advanced protection against friction, heat and deposits.
  • Resists oil breakdown.
  • Offers exceptional temperature protection and viscosity retention in challenging climates.
Highest Rated
Valvoline Daily Protection SAE 10W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil
Valvoline Daily Protection SAE 10W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil
  • Resists oil breakdown and sludge.
  • Provides exceptional temperature protection.
  • Optimizes power and fuel efficiency.
Editor’s Choice
Castrol 03057 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
Castrol 03057 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
  • Enhances excellent wear protection on critical engine components.
  • Reduces engine wear
  • Ensures sludge protection.

Overview of Lawn Mower Engine Oils

Getting the right oil for your lawn mower enables your mower to perform well, elongate its lifespan and prevent you from making the wrong selection.

Motor Oil

Many lawn mower owners make use of regular motor oils for their engines. 

Standard motor oils are suitable for four-cycle engines because they store gas and oil separately.

Although the type of motor oil for a four-cycle engine depends on the outdoor temperature in the area where you will be mowing.

Small Engine Oil

Briggs & Stratton Small Engine Oil

This engine oil is ideal for two-stroke engines. It provides protection and additives that are used in varied operating conditions. 

Getting high-quality small-engine oil can enable your mowing equipment to run for a long time. 

Before selecting a small engine oil, it is advisable to check the owner’s manual to know the viscosity and type of oil to use.

Overview of Lawn Mower Engine Oil Numbers

Depending on the mower size and the climate where you live, there are different engine oil options to pick from.

They have a different code with numbers and letters that show how the engine oil will work under varied conditions.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) came up with a scale to measure the several oil types. The number indicates the oil flow. 

The lower the number, the better the oil will flow in low temperatures.

Multi-grade oils can work well in low as well as high temperatures. They have two numbers that are separated with a W which means winter.

The number that is written before the W indicates the oil’s viscosity at a low temperature. 

The number written after the W indicates the oil’s performance at a high temperature.

Lawn Mower Oil Types

Lawn mower oils have subtle differences between them. The classification of older oils is based on weight and grade while newer ones have a viscosity added to them. Here are some lawn mower oil types:

SAE 30

SAE 30 oil

The SAE 30 is a single-grade engine oil with a viscosity rating of 30. It is best suited for small and air-cooled engines, most especially for older models.

SAE 5W-30

This multi-grade engine oil has a low viscosity to flow better in extremely cold conditions. This oil type ensures maximum protection of the engine from heat.

SAE 10W-30

The SAE 10W-30 oil is multi-grade engine oil that can perform in hot and cold conditions. 

The number “10” indicates that the oil is thinner and it can flow better in cold temperatures.

Synthetic SAE 5W-30

The Synthetic SAE 5W-30 oil can perform well in warm and cold conditions. It is more stable across varied temperature ranges compared to traditional oils.

Vanguard 15W-50

This oil type is made of fully synthetic engine oil that is ideal for commercial applications and perfect for temperatures that range between 20-130 degrees.

Understanding the Service Rating of Your Mower Engine Oil

The varied grades of motor oils are based on their viscosity. Reputable mower oil brands have a service rating with viscosity. 

To understand the ratings, you need to check for oil that is designated with an SG, SF, SH, SJ, or a higher grade.

Single Grade Oil

The single-grade oil does not contain additives and can be used only when the temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Multi-Grade Oil

A multi-grade oil uses additives for better viscosity and is best suited in a range of temperature conditions.

Synthetic Blend Oil

This oil is a mixture of regular and synthetic oil along with additives that enables it to work in cold temperatures. It is cheaper than full synthetic oil.

Full Synthetic Oil

The full synthetic oil is produced artificially and is ideal for commercial and high-performance engines like the Kawasaki lawn mower engine.

Why Do Lawn Mowers Need Oil?

Similar to other power tools, lawn mowers need oil to function properly. 

The oil helps to lubricate the different components of the mower’s engine. Doing so will minimize friction, and wear and tear.

However, not all engine oils will work for your mowing machine. Engine oils differ in terms of viscosity and the speed at which it flows in different conditions.

What is the Oil Capacity Of Lawn Mowers?

The oil capacity for walk-behind mowers is 15oz or 18oz while riding mowers have an oil capacity of  48oz or 64oz.

How Often Should I Be Changing the Oil?

This depends on how often you operate the mowing machine. It is a good idea to replace the oil yearly, before the start of the cutting season.

However, if you mow frequently or you run a lawn maintenance business, we recommend that you change the oil of your walk-behind mower after 50 hours of operation.

If you operate a riding or zero-turn mower, it is advisable to change the engine oil 100 hours after use.

Can You Use Regular Motor Oil In A Lawn Mower?

Yes, the SAE 30 motor oil is commonly recommended for use in a lawn mower. 10W-30 or 10W-40 motor oils are often used in vehicles but they can also be used for lawn mowers.  

Can I Use 5W 20 Oil In A Lawn Mower?

The thinness of the 5W20 oil does not make it a good choice for your lawn mower engine because it will not lubricate the engine properly. 

This may result in overheating or engine damage.

How to Choose The Best Oil for Your Lawn Mower Engine

When choosing the right mower oil type for your mowing machine, the first thing to do is to check the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Here are some other factors to consider:

Lawn Mower Engine Type

It is important to check the engine type before getting an engine oil for your engine. 

Homeowners can choose motor oil for four-stroke engines because they are used for heavy-duty tasks. 

These engines are common in riding mowers as well as push mowers.

On the other hand, homeowners with two-stroke engines can get a small engine oil because they are lighter.


Viscosity is used to describe the thickness of lawn mower oil. High viscosity oils perform better in high temperatures while low viscosity oils work well in low temperatures. 

However, single-grade types like SAE-30 oil have limited flexibility.

It is advisable to go for multigrade types like 10W-30 oil because they offer superb performance in a wide range of temperatures.


Another factor to consider before choosing the ideal oil for your mower engine is temperature. 

If you reside in a warm area that is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the SAE 30 oil is an ideal choice for you because it is ideal in hot climates.

If you stay in an area that has a temperature ranging from 0- 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you may go for the SAE10W-30 oil. 

The number 10 indicates that the oil is thin and can easily flow even in cold conditions.

For colder regions that are below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as high temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the SAE 5W-30 synthetic, may be a perfect choice. 

This oil is thin and it is best suited for extremely cold conditions.

The 15W-50 synthetic oil can work across a range of temperatures and can also withstand ongoing and heavy usage.

How to Change Lawn Mower Oil

Here are some steps to change your lawn mower oil:

  • Allow the engine to run continuously for a few minutes before you turn it off.
  • Remove the spark plug and locate the oil drain plug.
  • Loosen the plug and allow the oil to drain.
  • Ensure that you tighten the plug again.
  • Replace the engine filter with a new one
  • Pour a new engine oil but ensure that it does not exceed the maximum capacity.
  • Turn on the engine and check for leaks.

How to Check Your Lawn Mower Oil Level

  • Remove the dipstick cap, apply some pressure, and twist counterclockwise.
  • Take off the dipstick and clean it with a clean rag so that you can get an accurate reading.
  • Ensure that the teeth of the cap match the grooves on the dipstick tube before re-installing the dipstick.
  • To re-install the dipstick cap, apply some pressure and twist clockwise.
  • Take off the cap again and check the oil level towards the bottom of the dipstick tube.
  • If you notice that the oil level is low, ensure that you pour a few ounces at a time to prevent overfilling.
  • Allow the oil to settle before checking the oil level.