Outdoor Equipment Advice

What Kind of Oil Does a Lawn Mower Take: A Guide To Lawn Mower Oils

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To get the most out of your lawn mower, using the right oil to get the engine running is a must.

Unfortunately, with all the oils available in the market, it can be difficult to know what to use and avoid.

What kind of oil does a lawn mower take, you might ask.

Well, that’s what we’re here for.

Find out what oils you can use to keep your lawn mower working at optimum performance.

What Kind of Oil Does a Lawn Mower Take?

There are different types of oils compatible with lawn mowers.

What you should use on your lawn mower will depend on what engine you have, along with other factors such as the weather in your region.

There are typically two common choices for lawn mower oils: motor oils and small engine oils.

Normally, people use motor oil, which is cheap and easily accessible, but not all lawn mowers can actually use motor oil.

Mowers with small engines, for example, usually require small engine oils.

Let’s look at the difference between the two.

Motor Oil

Motor oil, also called engine oil, is incredibly common and used in various engines and types of machinery.

It comes in different grades, which vary depending on viscosity and behavior at certain temperatures.

A motor oil’s viscosity is indicated through a viscosity rating, but reputable motor oils also include a service rating.

For your lawn mower, it’s best to go for an oil designated SF, SG, SH, SJ, or higher, ensuring that they’re of high quality.

Motor oils are compatible with larger lawn mowers, whose engines work the same way larger vehicles do.

These lawn mowers normally have a four-stroke engine, which pumps oil repeatedly via a sump before returning to the sump.

Four-stroke engines typically burn gasoline but also use motor oil separately on the engine’s crankcase.

Small Engine Oils

Small engine oils are perfect for lawn mowers that use a two-stroke engine.

It’s a kind of engine that doesn’t have a separate lubrication system, unlike four-stroke ones.

Instead, two-stroke engines simultaneously burn the oil and fuel since small engine oils mix the two.

That is why motor oils may not work with two-stroke engines.

They might inevitably end up clogging the engine due to the difference in their composition.

Since oil and fuel must be mixed in two-stroke engines, they require an exact oil-to-fuel ratio.

You should consult the user manual for your lawn mower to determine the exact ratio you should use.

What Oil To Use

As mentioned earlier, motor oils work best with four-stroke engines, while small engine oils are a better choice for two-stroke engines.

The thing is, these oils vary in viscosity and performance in different temperatures.

We’ve collated some of the best oils to use, regardless of engine.

Below are some of the best oils you can consider for your lawn mower.

SAE 30 Oil

This is a single-grade oil that has a viscosity rating of 30.

It is safe even for small, air-cooled engines and is also a good bet even in warmer temperatures.

SAE 10W-30

This multigrade engine oil is an excellent pick for both colder and warmer climates.

SAE 5W-30

This is another multigrade engine oil.

What’s special about this is that its low viscosity allows it to flow better at colder temperatures while still protecting the engine enough during warmer climates.

Synthetic SAE 5W-30

This is a synthetic oil you can use for both hot and cold weather.

Since this is synthetic, it tends to be stable despite changes in temperature, which isn’t usually the case with conventional oils.

Vanguard 15W-30

This is a fully synthetic engine oil normally used in commercial applications requiring temperatures at 20 to 130 degrees.

As you can see, this list features a mix of conventional, easily accessible oils, along with synthetic ones.

Synthetic Oils

Although you’re free to choose any of the oils in the list above, you may want to focus your attention on synthetic oils.

They started to gain traction due to their high quality.

Synthetic oils are artificially created from a mix of different chemical compounds.

They perform well in any engine while protecting the engine during use—something that natural oils cannot always do.

Hence, synthetic oils normally provide better performance compared to conventional oils.

They’re typically more refined as well, thanks to the rigorous chemical refining process they go through.

It removes impurities found in the oil.

what kind of oil does a lawn mower take facts

Other Factors To Consider in Choosing an Oil for Your Lawn Mower

Apart from the quality of the oil you will be using, along with your mower’s engine, there are other factors to take note of when choosing an oil for your lawn mower.

Let’s take a look at each one.

Type of Mower

The best way to determine what oil works best for your lawn mower is to check the user manual that comes with it.

Often, manufacturers already indicate which oils you can use for specific lawn mowers.

This way, you won’t even need to check what kind of engine you have or go through the trouble of trying out different types of oil.

Manufacturers know what products can best prolong their products’ lives, so don’t forget to read your user manual.

Aside from the type of oil you need to use, the user manual typically mentions the ratio or proportion of gasoline-oil mix you need for their engines.

Before buying any random oil or fuel, make sure to consult the manual for this ratio.

Otherwise, you might end up breaking the mower’s engine.

Outdoor Temperature

You may have noticed that the list above mentioned climates and temperatures multiple times.

That is because the outdoor temperature plays a huge role in the oil you have to choose.

Since your lawn mower’s engine will be burning off gasoline and oil, it’s important to buy oils that won’t cause your engine to overheat and will lubricate it well regardless of the temperature.

As such, it’s a good idea to go for versatile oils, which can work in both colder and warmer climates.


Answering the question “What kind of oil does a lawn mower take?” can be very nuanced.

It depends on multiple factors, including temperature, engine type, and the kind of mower.

To choose the best oil for your lawn mower, you must keep these factors in mind for the longevity and durability of your lawn mower.

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