What Kind of Oil Does a Lawn Mower Take?

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What Kind Of Oil Does A Lawn Mower Take

Key Takeaways

  • There are two main types of lawn mowers- 2-stroke and 4-stroke ones. 
  • SAE 30 is the best type of oil for 2-stroke engines or older/ smaller engines. 
  • 4-stroke lawn mowers can run with SAE 10W-30, SAE 5W-30, or Synthetic SAE 5W-30. But the oil type depends on climate, usage, and engine models. 
  •  Briggs & Stratton SAE 5W-30 is the best lawn mower oil for colder climates. 
  • You should change your lawn mower oil after every 50 hours of operation. 

All power equipment, including the lawn mower, needs engine oil to work smoothly. The perfect engine oil protects the internal parts from wear and tear and reduces friction by keeping it perfectly lubricated. 

But can you use any kind of lawn mower oil for your lawn mower? The simple answer is No. 

Using the right type of lawn mower oil suitable for your model is essential for its smooth functioning. SAE 30, SAE 10W-30, SAE 5W-30, and Synthetic SAE 5W-30 are the main types of automobile oil used in different lawn mowers. However, you must consider your mower’s size, capacity, outside temperature, and engine type while choosing the kind of oil your lawn mower needs. 

In this article, I’ll discuss in detail different types of lawn mower oils, their pros and cons, and how to determine the type of oil your lawn mower needs, along with some additional tips. Keep reading for more. 

Different Types Of Oil For Lawn Mowers 

Different Types Of Oil For Lawn Mowers

There are usually two main types of oils used in lawn mower engines – synthetic and conventional oils. Synthetic oils provide the best lubrication and protection to engines, and these oils are great for extreme temperatures. Synthetic oil is generally suitable for high-performance engines. 

Conventional oils are made from crude oils and are usually best for small engines. Moreover, the kind of oil your lawn mower needs also depends on the engine type. There are four-cycle or four-stroke engines and two-cycle or two-stroke engines. 

Two-cycle lawn mowers have a single tank that requires both gasoline and oil. Owners usually pre-mix the gasoline and oil before pouring it into the engine. While the ratio of gas and oil varies, the usual ratio is 30:1 (4 oz. of oil for one gallon of gas) or 50:1 (2 oz of oil for one gallon of gas). The user’s manual explains the kind of oil and the ratio the two-stroke mower needs, so refer to that for more clarity.

The four-stroke mowers have two separate tanks – one for gas and another for oil. As you can tell by the name, you need to add the oil and gas separately in the four-stroke engine. These types of lawn mowers usually need 30-weight oil (weight is the thickness or the viscosity of oils). 

Based on these factors, the following are the different types of oil you need for your lawn mower

  1. SAE 30

SAE 30 is a single-grade oil. These oils usually do not have additives and have a viscosity rating of 30. Such automotive oils are best for warmer temperatures and are suitable for small motors such as Briggs & Stratton engines.


  • Great viscosity for small engines 
  • Easily available and inexpensive 
  • Provides optimum protection against wear and tear, corrosion, and deposits. 


  • May thicken in colder weather
  • Only suitable for older models 
  1. SAE 10W-30

SAE 10W-30 can work in a varied temperature range from warmer to colder temperatures. These multigrade oils use additives for better viscosity in different temperature conditions. 


  • Can maintain a stable balance between high-temperature viscosity and low-temperature fluidity 
  • Suitable for modern engines 
  • Offers robust protection against corrosion, deposits, corrosion, and wear and tear compared to the SAE 30 oil. 


  • Requires more frequent oil changes because it can break down faster at warmer temperatures 
  • Not suitable for engines that require lower-viscosity oils 
  1. SAE 5W-30 

SAE 5W-30 oils have a lower viscosity rating giving them a better flow in colder temperatures compared to the 10W-30. Moreover, SAE 5W-30 has a lower consumption and is one of the best types of oils for all weather conditions. Briggs & Stratton SAE 5W 30 lawnmower oil is an expert-recommended brand and works best during cold weather. 


  • Better fluidity in colder temperatures offers easier starting of the engine 
  • Best for varied weather conditions 
  • Better fuel efficiency 


  • Not suitable for older or less efficient engine models 
  • Less thick or viscous 
  1. Synthetic SAE 5W-30 
Synthetic 5W-30

As the name says, it’s a synthetic or artificial lawn mower oil that works perfectly in any weather conditions. Synthetic oils provide better protection than natural oils in hot and cold weather; they provide better starting with less oil consumption. 


  • Better temperature stability with reduced risk of oil breakdown 
  • Better fluidity in cold temperatures allows for easier starting 
  • Does not require frequent oil changes 


  • More expensive than conventional oils 
  • Not suitable for older models of engines 

Apart from these, there is another lawn mower oil called Vanguard 15W-50, specially meant for commercial lawn cutting. This synthetic oil can be used for all weather conditions and operates at a varied temperature range of 20 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Related: What Is a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower? All You Need to Know

How Do You Determine The Compatibility Of An Oil With A Specific Lawn Mower? 

Mentioned above are the main types of oil for different lawn mowers. But how will you know what type of oil will be best for your lawn mower? You need to consider the following factors to determine the compatibility of oil with a specific lawn mower: 

  1. Refer To The User’s Manual 

This is not the time when you should rely on guesswork. Choosing engine oil based on what you think is the best for your machine isn’t good for your machine. So eliminate the guesswork and refer to the user’s manual. 

Consult the user manual to find out what oil the mower engine manufacturer recommends. Based on the type of engine, the manufacturer would recommend natural or synthetic oil. Besides knowing the oil type, you should also try to understand why a particular kind of oil is suitable for the engine. 

  1. Check Engine Specifications 

Knowing the engine specifications is another crucial factor in deciding on the best oil for the lawn mower. Usually, most riding and walk-behind mowers have a four-cycle engine. But some old models or compact push mowers have two-cycle engines. 

Depending on the engine specifications, you have to choose the appropriate oil viscosity, like 10W-30, 5W-30, or SAE 30. 

  1. The Climate Is Another Determining Factor 

Consider the climate conditions where you’ll use the lawn mower: is it a cold or warm state? Usually, heavier oil is best for cooler climates, and light oil is best for warmer climates. 

  1. Consider The Oil Type

As mentioned before, there are different types of oil, like synthetic, conventional, and blended, so you need to consider which type of oil would be best for the lawn mower engine as well as for the climate. 

  1. Get In Touch With The Manufacturer 

Lastly, if you still can’t figure out which oil type would be best for your push, zero turn or riding lawn mower, contact the manufacturer. The manufacturer or the dealer can advise you best about which oil would go best with the mower considering essential factors.

Related: Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower – 5 Models For All Budgets And Terrains

How To Change Lawn Mower Oil: Step By Step Guide With Maintenance Schedule 

You can’t abruptly change the lawn mower oil as you need to follow some specific steps for the same. Here are the steps that you need to follow while changing lawn mower oil: 

  • Step One: Gather The Supplies 
Step One: Gather The Supplies 

Before changing the oil, you need to gather the essential supplies like – the owner’s manual, the engine oil, funnel, oil drain pan, rags or shop towels, and old newspaper or cardboard, whatever is available to you. 

If you have a bigger riding mower, you’ll need a mower lift to secure the mower while changing the oil. 

  • Step Two: Warm Up The Engine 
Step Two: Warm Up The Engine

Once the supplies are ready, start the engine to warm it up for about 60 seconds. Warming up the engine helps get rid of the old oil easily and speeds up the oil-changing process as the new oil will flow more easily. 

Turn off the engine and disconnect the spark plug wire. It’s best to follow the safety measures always. Accidents can happen if the engine accidentally starts while you’re changing the oil. 

  • Step Three: Clean The Oil Fill Area 

The next step is to clean the oil fill area using a rag or a towel. Get rid of the old oil residues from the drain plug and the dipstick shaft areas. Also, remove the dipstick.

  • Step Four: Get An Oil Pan Or Something Similar To Catch The Oil 
Step Four: Get An Oil Pan Or Something Similar To Catch The Oil

Get an oil pan to catch the drained oil from the mower. Position the pan exactly at the right spot from where the oil will drain. 

  • Step Five: Drain The Old Oil 
Step Five: Drain The Old Oil

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In the case of a push mower, you need to position the mower deck upwards and place the oil pan under the mower. Use the socket wrench to unscrew the plug counter. Keep moving the wrench till oil starts to come out. Collect the oil in the pan. Don’t let the oil drain onto the ground or on the garage floor. Following proper disposal methods for engine oil is essential. 

  • Step Six: Replace The Oil Filter 
Step Six: Replace The Oil Filter

The oil filter keeps the oil free from dirt, debris, and other large particles; therefore, it’s essential to replace the oil filter at least once a year or as frequently as the manufacturer recommends. Locate the oil filter in your lawn mower and keep twisting it anti-clockwise using a pipe wrench or a filter wrench until it comes out. 

Check the oil seal or the rubber gasket for any dirt and debris. If there are any, clean them immediately. Take some new engine oil and rub it around the gasket to keep it well-lubricated. Place the new oil filter and secure it well using a wrench. 

Related: Where Is the Carburetor on a Lawn Mower – Here’s the Answer

  • Step Seven: Refill New Engine Oil 
Step Seven: Refill New Engine Oil

Finally, it’s time to pour the new engine oil. Fresh new oil has a translucent color with a slight golden hue as opposed to used oil that appears dark brown and opaque. To pour the oil, use a funnel and locate the oil fill plug and fill in the oil. 

Only pour as much as recommended by the manufacturer and prevent overfilling it. Once you finish pouring the oil, remove the dipstick and wipe it well before placing it back into the dipstick shaft. 

Again pull the dipstick out of the mower to check the oil level. Once you check the oil level, put the dipstick back into its place. Wipe off any excess oil that may have dripped, and your oil-changing procedure is over. 

Here is a video that’ll help you understand the process better. 

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Maintenance Schedule for Changing The Lawn Mower Oil

According to experts, you should change your lawn mower’s oil every 50 hours of operation. It means you need to change the lawn mower’s oil once every year on average. 

Additionally, you should use the dipstick to check the oil level and quality to know if it’s time for an oil change. Also, please note that while changing the oil, ensure there is no water either in the funnel or in the tank (even tiny drops). Water in the motor oil will hamper the smooth working of the engine. Therefore, take proper precautions while emptying and filling the lawn mower tank. 

Related: Electric vs Gas Lawn Mower – Which One Is Suitable For you?

What Kind Of Oil Does A Lawn Mower Take FAQs

Can You Use Regular Motor Oil In A Lawn Mower? 

Yes, you can sometimes use regular motor oil in a lawn mower. However, it’s best to use oil that is meant for small engines as these oils contain special additives for better protection and performance. But please note that you can use some good quality car oil only in the four-stroke engine lawn mower. It’s not safe to use regular motor oil in two-stroke engines. 

Can I Use 5W-30 In My Lawn Mower? 

Whether you can use 5W-30 for your lawn mower or not will depend on your mower model. Refer to the user manual and see which engine oil is recommended to use. If it says 5W-30, then you can use it. 

Can I Use SAE 30 Oil In My Lawn Mower? 

The answer again depends on the type of lawn mower you have. But SAE 30 is suitable for warmer temperatures, old models, and small-engine lawn mowers. 

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Using the right oil is essential for all lawn mowers to work perfectly. I hope you found the needed information about the engine oil you should use for your lawn mower. Besides using the right oil, changing the oil at frequent intervals is equally important. Make sure to read the complete oil-changing procedure to do it the right way. 

Do you still have any queries about lawn mower oil? If yes, don’t forget to leave them in the comments. I’ll address them at the earliest. 

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