Can You Use Car Oil In A Lawn Mower? (What You Need to Know)

Your lawnmower is expected to last for ten years or even more with proper maintenance. And oiling the engine regularly will protect its internal parts and guarantee that they’ll operate without issues. 

Can You Use Car Oil In A Lawn Mower?

The short answer is yes. Most lawn mower engines use 10W-30 oil or SAE30 oil, which is the same as the one you would use for your automobile. That said, make sure you use high-quality oil and check the owner’s manual to help you determine what type of oil to put in your machine. 

There are different types of car oil available on the market, and some of them might work for your lawn mower, as long as you make sure that it’s of good quality and you pay attention to the additives used. 

Before adding any oil, it’s essential to know what type of engine the mower has, as it will help you pick the right oil.  

We’ll take a look at everything you need to know about the type of oil to add to your mower and how to tell when it’s time to add more. But first, let’s take a look at the different types of oils available on the market. 

Two-Stroke Engine Lawn Mower

These lawn mowers are less common because they burn oil and gas when mixed together, emitting more smoke and carbon monoxide, and are considered bad for the environment

However, some people still have old two-stroke mowers, and they might want to use them before thinking about buying a new four-stroke model. If this is the case, you shouldn’t use car oil in your mower to lubricate the engine. This oil will be too heavy for the engine and won’t mix properly with the gas. 

If you have a two-stroke engine on your mower, refer to your tool’s user manual. Use the recommended lightweight lubrication oil to keep the engine’s internal parts in perfect shape. 

Four-Stroke Engine Lawn Mower

Four-stroke lawn mowers have two separate compartments to store gas and oil, just like most vehicles. However, they don’t mix gas and oil together, so they emit less smoke and are considered better for the environment. 

Because the engine functions just like a vehicle’s engine, you can safely use car oil in your mower. However, it shouldn’t be too viscous for better lubrication, and you should pay attention to the additives as some of them won’t be necessary for a mower. 

Since the engine is relatively small, a SAE30 high-quality oil can work if you have an older lawn mower. The 10W-30 oil is another good option but will work if your mower is relatively new because this oil is slightly thinner. 

How to Choose the Best Car Oil For Your Lawn Mower

The car oil minimizes friction to protect the engine’s internal parts from wear in a vehicle. It also cleans the parts by removing residue to keep the engine running for a long time. 

This is exactly why you need to oil your lawn mower, but you need to make sure that you’re picking the correct type of oil. Here are two critical factors to consider. 

Oil Quality

Just because you’re not riding the lawn mower doesn’t mean that you can get away with using low-quality oil in the motor. Poor-quality oil can immediately affect the engine’s parts, causing your lawn mower to shut down or can slowly damage them, so the engine doesn’t last as long as it should. 

Without proper maintenance, the mower will be unsafe to use. This is why you need to make sure that you’re buying high-quality oil, so the residues don’t block the internal parts while they’re moving or increase unnecessary friction. 

Oil Type

There are two types of oils on the market, synthetic and mineral. And although synthetic and semi-synthetic oils can be better for your car, it’s best to use mineral oil with your lawn mower. 

The 10W 30 is an excellent choice for most new mowers because it’s thin and provides the needed protection. However, the standard SAE30 oil will be a better option for an older mower, especially when used in warm weather. 

These two car oils are of low viscosity and will provide the needed lubrication to keep your engine functioning the way it should. If one of them is too thick and the other is too thin, you can use the 5W 30 oil which is thicker than the 10W 30 oil but still thinner than the standard SAE30 oil. 

 If you have an older lawn mower or mow lawns professionally, you might need a thicker oil. The 15W 50 car oil will work for you if your lawn is thicker, you use the lawn mower more frequently, or it’s an old machine. 

When Should You Change the Oil In A Lawn Mower?

When you refer to your user manual, you’ll see the manufacturer’s recommendation on how often you should change the oil in your zero turn lawn mower. You don’t want to miss adding oil because this might gradually or instantly damage the engine. But, on the other hand, you also don’t want to waste the oil unnecessarily, as this means that your mower won’t be cost-efficient to use. 

In most cases, manufacturers recommend changing or adding oil after 25 to 50 hours of operation or every year. However, in some cases, you might need to add oil more often. 

For example, if your lawn mower is old and already worn out, you’ll be required to pay more attention to oil changes. If you use it more often, you’ll probably need to add oil more frequently to minimize friction. 

If you haven’t mowed your lawn in a long time and the grass is too thick, this will also put a toll on the engine’s parts, so you need to oil them more frequently. Here are some signs that you need to change or add more oil to your lawn mower. 

  • Check the mark on the dipstick. The oil level should be between the maximum and minimum marks; if it’s too high, then you need to remove the excess oil. If it’s between these two marks, add more oil until it reaches the highest one. 
  • The lawn mower is too noisy when it’s operating. In this case, you should turn it off immediately to prevent permanent damage. 
  • It’s overheating, which indicates that it has probably been low on oil for quite some time. The excessive friction emits heat that can melt some of the internal parts, which are costly to repair. 
  • Seeing too much smoke coming out of the mower can be a sign that there’s too much or too little oil. Having too much oil results in excessive white smoke and can lower the lawn mower’s productivity and efficiency. However, operating with too little or no oil can immediately ruin the internal parts. 
  • If the mower stops working and you know that you haven’t added oil in a long time, then it’s probably a sign of permanent damage. It means that you have ignored all the warning signs, and now the engine won’t be able to operate. In this case, check the oil level; if there’s some oil left, there might be another problem you need to address. 

How to Add Oil In a Lawn Mower

If you’ve decided that it’s time to add oil to your lawn mower, follow these tips to guarantee the best results. 

  • Run the lawn mower for about five minutes to warm up the oil and make it easier to pour out.
  • Remove the spark plug to prevent the engine from accidentally running.  
  • Remove the oil drain plug to empty all the old oil. This guarantees that you won’t be mixing two types of oil which might damage the engine. 
  • Turn off the fuel tap to prevent the fuel from getting into the engine and tilt the engine to the side. Your manufacturer might recommend placing the mower on its handle to prevent the oil from damaging the air filter. You can also use an oil extractor kit. 
  • Use a funnel to add the new oil. 
  • Use the dipstick to check the oil level, and put everything back into place. 


You can use car oil in your zero turn or regular lawn mower with a four-stroke engine. Nevertheless, you need to make sure that you’re using high-quality oil of suitable viscosity to keep the engine running properly. 

If you’re still unsure what type of oil to use, consult with the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer, as they will be able to tell you what type to use. 

Related Articles