What Type of Oil Does a Lawn Mower Take?

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Taking good care of your lawnmower is the first step to having a perfectly working machine for a good long time and a healthier lawn, and it all begins with knowing the right type of oil to use. You might not have changed your lawnmower’s oil in a long while, and you are wondering what type of oil to use in your lawnmower so that it will continue to run like new. Depending on the specifications of your lawnmower, you should change the oil after every 20 to 50 hours of usage.

However if you have a small yard, you might only have to change the oil a few times a year. Even though this is not something that is done frequently, it is mandatory that you do it the right way, starting with using a suitable oil for your lawnmower in order to keep it running smoothly.

There are certain types of oil that can be used to operate lawnmowers, but the factors that determine the type of oil to use are the lawnmower’s size, type, and capacity. The climate you live in can also make a difference when it is time to adding or replacing oil due to the fact that each lawnmower has a specific temperature range.

  • SAE 30
  • SAE 10W-30
  • VANGUARD 15W-50

SAE 30

The SAE 30 oil is a motor oil that has a viscosity rating of 30, and most motor oils usually have a viscosity rating from 0 to 50. The viscosity of an oil is the measure of how well it pours at a specified temperature. A lower rating signifies a thinner oil, whereas, a higher rating signifies that it is a thicker oil.

Thinner oils work better in cold weather, mostly when trying to start up a car. On the other hand, thicker oils work better at higher temperatures. SAE 30 is a single-grade oil that is thicker than lower grades, and it has a viscosity rating of 30 at a temperature of 100 degrees Celsius.

The SAE 30 oil is meant to be used in your small lawnmower. It is not a multi-grade oil that will work well irrespective of the season.

SAE 10W-30

The SAE 10W-30 oil is an oil that has a viscosity rating of 10W at low temperatures (the W stands for winter) and SAE 30 viscosity at high temperatures. These viscosities are relative and standardized numbers; the oil gets thinner when it is hot and not thicker. This is a multi-grade oil that can be used to help protect engines that have a larger temperature swing range.

Multi-grade oils are generally blended oils; the SAE 10W-30 is an example. The 10W part of the oil is associated with the grade of winder oil, and the 30 part of the oil is related to the protection given at hot temperatures.

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The Synthetic SAE 5W-30 is an oil that has a viscosity rating of 5W at low temperatures and a viscosity rating of 30 at higher temperatures. As a multi-grade oil, the synthetic SAE 5W-30 is thin enough to flow smoothly at low temperatures and thick enough to work adequately at high temperatures.

A synthetic oil, just like the SAE 5W-30, is an oil that is manufactured in a lab just like a chemical. Semi-synthetic oil is a man-made oil that is blended with natural oils. These semi-synthetic oils and also full synthetic oils are the ones that offer the best protection for your lawnmower; the only downside is that they are very expensive.

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The Vanguard 15W-50 oil is an oil that has a viscosity rating of 15W at low temperatures and a viscosity rating of 30 at high temperatures. It is a fully synthetic oil that performs well in different temperatures, and also boasts of reduced oil consumption. Due to its fully synthetic composition, the vanguard 15W-50 offers a high-performance solution, and also has longer life oil when compared to a semi-synthetic oil.

The vanguard oil was manufactured with commercial customers in mind. Even in most of the toughest conditions couples with extensive usage, it has been designed to protect your engine and maximize performance fully.

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When to Change Your Lawnmower’s Oil?

If you just purchased your lawnmower, then you might need to replace the oil after the first few hours of use. If you have a small engine, then you might need to change the oil after every 25 hours of use, while larger motors can go on for up to 50 hours before you would have to replace the oil.

There are plenty of factors that can raise the frequency of your oil changes, such as severe dust and dirt, frequently mowing wet or muddy grass, rough terrain, or even a hot climate.

All these are conditions that will require your lawnmower to work harder. If your yard is large or if you mow your small yard often ( if you have previously used it for more than 20 hours) then use a dipstick to check your oil level before you use your lawnmower again.

But if you haven’t used it for up to 20 hours at the end of a season, then make it a habit to change your oil each spring, before your first use. Additionally, you might want to check your oil filter to see if needs to be cleaned or maybe even changed.

How to Check Your Oil Level?

If you want to check your oil level, then you need to make sure that the engine is cold and on ground level. If you have been using your lawnmower, then you should let it cool for about 10 – 15 minutes before checking to allow the oil to settle.

Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a dry cloth, insert the dipstick but do not screw into its seat, then remove it to check the oil level.

Most lawn mowers will have an oil drain plug on the bottom side of the unit. Place a vessel underneath the opening and pull the plug. You may want to use an air compressor to clean the opening and remove any access oil.

Related: Can You Use Car Oil in a Lawn Mower?


With this guide, it should now be a lot easier to know which type of lawnmower oil to use, how to check your oil level, and when to change your lawnmower’s oil.