Lawn mower oil vs motor oil

topic posted Sun, June 11, 2006 - 9:44 AM by  Witchy
What's the difference between 10 W 30 car motor oil and the 10 W 30 lawnmower motor oil? Can you use car motor oil in a pinch?

posted by:
  • Unsu...
    Wow I didn't even know there was special oil for lawnmowers. It probably doesn't have as many additives or something as a guess.

    Now there is a special oil for two-stroke weedwhackers that you add to the gas since the engine doesn't use oil separately.
    • It's a 4.75 hp mulching mower. A bottle of oil came with it that said it was specificially for had 10 W 30 on it. Can't find the manual to see if the lawnmower oil is required or if you could use regular car oil.

      I was thinking it might be lighter since it's for a smaller motor. But motors are a grey area for me, and I really don't know.

      Don't hurry with the answers...I don't feel like mowing the lawn today, even though it needs it... ; )


      • -
        offline 12
        I have no experience with lawnmowers, but if they have a wet clutch (like most motorcycles) they need an oil that is different from car oil. Modern car oils have additives that will cause a wet clutch to slip badly.
        • Unsu...
          No lawn mower that I know of has a wet clutch. Most are simple one (rarely two) cylinder engines. The crankshaft is also the output shaft to which a single blade is fastened. Some use three blades and employ a series of pulleys and belts running off the output shafe. My larger mower has an electric clutch that disengages the blades but I run a 48" cut hydrostatic drive SCAGG, not your typical home owner's lawnmower, my smaller one is a walk ( run really) behind Ransomes 48" cut. Also not typical for a home owner.

          Generally those engines on most home owner mowers are un-killable. The mower decks rust through before the motor dies.

  • A
    offline 0
    Chances are the engine (not necessarily the lawnmower) is made by one of these two companies:

    Both sites have links to download manuals.

    Now, that’s what I’m talk’n about – the practical / useful internet – power at your finger tips.
    • It's a Briggs & Stratton on a Craftsman mower. Have to look up the model number when I get home.

      I checked out the site...good info. They also have a handy dandy little e-mail maintenence reminder that looks like a good idea.

      Thanks for the info!

      • Unsu...
        I think you can use normal motor oil. If you are in an area that doesn't freeze, go with a straight 30W. Hm, Cleveland, I guess it freezes there so the 10W30 is fine.
      • A
        offline 0
        WW wrote – “It's a 4.75 hp mulching mower. A bottle of oil came with it that said it was specificially for had 10 W 30 on it. Can't find the manual to see if the lawnmower oil is required or if you could use regular car oil. “

        I’m glad you found the link ( ) helpful. Sellers like Craftsman may not make it easy to get a lot of info off the engine, but here’s hoping you can find it easily.

        As you mentioned, it came with an in-house branded container of 10-30. I’m sure they are just trying to make a few more after market bucks; any standard automotive 10-30 should be fine. But, and there’s almost always a “but”, it’s not a bad idea to look thru that manual for things like: how much oil to put in, temperature considerations, spark plug and other tune-up info, etc.

        Regarding Tribe ads, I see that – FINALLY - Tribe has gotten a clue and gone to those quiet (no flash, bouncy bouncy) Google ads.

        I noticed this Google ad on the right for lawnmowers and, since it wasn’t flashing obnoxiously, I actually gave it a click:

        I’m hoping that all consumer product manufacturers will go to the model of hosting customer support products like manuals, forums, FAQs, trouble-shooting, etc. online. Back-in-the-day, you would have to send away for a replacement manual by snail mail; often with a check or money order to cover shipping and handling.
        • uh yeaH- and as to the actual question, the differnce between lawnmover oil and 10 w 30 car oil=

          the price! aNd hooray, as lawnmower engines are so crappy and simple, i would almost bet that not only does it cost more , but is probably of low quality.
          • You are very right - PRICE is what it is all about.

            I had a friend that had an older riding mower. She needed a belt. I went to a local lawn mower shop and they wanted over 28 bucks for it. I went to a autopart store and paid around 7 bucks for the same thing.
            • 10W30 = 10W30.

              Motor oils have standardized ratings regardless of application. It's the same stuff.

              It's confusing because the makers label it as lawnmower oil as if that were an alltogether different formulation, which it's not. Call it marketing psychology for the sake of selling the ordinary as exclusive.

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