0W-20 Oil

Discussion in '2009 - 2013 Toyota Corolla' started by Ted, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. Ted

    Ted New Member

    Until recently the oil specified by Toyota was 5W-30. That's what my Tundra requires. However, when 0W-30 became common I switched to that (Mobil 1 Synthetic) and I did notice that 0W-40 was starting to be on the shelve. Now I see with the '12s that Toyota is specifying 0W-20. I'm curious why the 20. For those of us in areas where 100 degrees is common in the summer I would think that 0W-30 would be better. I asked my Toyota service manager and he, of course, wants to stick with the 0W-20 because that's what's in the book. I will use the 0W-20 until my free oil changes run out but when I start doing my own again I'll go to 0W-30 unless there's a really good reason not to.

    Does anyone have any thoughts or insight on this?
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  3. corolla_mike

    corolla_mike New Member

    The 0W oils, as I've come to understand them, are specified for the purpose of raising CAFE standards. The thinner the oil, the easier the engine spins, thereby increasing MPGs.

    As we all know, the sturdier the oil, the less the engine will wear.

    For the sake of your warranty, do what the mechanical engi... er, uh, socio-political engineers say to do. After that, go with your gut.
  4. rjreynolds

    rjreynolds New Member

    I have a 2012 Corolla myself and have wondered the very same thing? If you look in your owner's manual it basically states to use 0w20 unless it is not available in which case you can then use 5w20. Then it states that you must switch back to 0w20 when it becomes available. If you keep reading, it also states that if you drive your vehicle under adverse conditions that you might consider using a heavier weight oil. I use a 5w30 fully synthetic motor oil. Even though this oil is supposed to go 15,000 miles, I plan on changing the oil after 5,000 for warrantee reasons and because it's a brand new engine.

    A previous poster mentioned that partly because of cafe standards that car manufacturers are recommending these thin oils like 0w20. He was right.
  5. OP

    Ted New Member

    I just read the manual (2012 Corolla) as you mentioned you did and found the following on page 469, last paragraph: The book talks about the '20' in the specifications and says "An oil with a higher viscosity (one with a higher value) may be better suited if the vehicle is operated at high speed, or under extreme load conditions." To me this means using '30' oil, or more specifically, 0W-30, if the conditions warrant it such as Interstates with 70, 75, and 80 speed limits and the summers where we have 100s for a long time.
  6. OP

    Ted New Member

    I bought my Corolla S last March and included was free service for the first 25,000 miles. Last week it hit 5,000 and brought it in. There's quite a long check list of things they do including rotating the tires. When I got home I looked at the paperwork and noticed that no where did they mention changing the oil or filter. When I first got the Corolla I looked at the Service Manual and noticed Toyota doesn't list oil change until 10,000 miles. I went back today with the paperwork the Toyota service manage confirmed that 10,000 was correct because they are using synthetic oil. He looked this up on his Toyota computer.

    I mentioned rotating tires. The Toyota manual suggests front-to-back rotation without any crossing. This seems odd because the OEM tires are not directional. I confirmed this when they did it during service so when I got home I crossed the front tires.
  7. rjreynolds

    rjreynolds New Member


    I heard the same thing mentioned about oil changes every 10k if synthetic is used., even though the maintenance manual says 5k. I will bring it in for the 5k maintenance soon, but I will be doing my own oil changes. I am using 5w30 fully synthetic in mine and noticed that the engine runs slightly quieter and smoother however my fuel milage slipped 2-3 mpg it seems based on my calculations.
  8. corolla_mike

    corolla_mike New Member

    Written data trumps oral data.

    If what you want to know is written in a manual, that information overrides spoken information.

    When the manual says to do X at interval Y, then do X at interval Y. When technicians don't do X at interval Y, then it's time to seek the services of other technicians.

    If you want to change your oil at 5k, then change it -- or have it changed elsewhere. You can always return to a dealer for your 10k service.

    Today's stifling EPA rules make it more difficult to do business, and when it comes to used-oil disposal, automotive dealerships have it bad. They want us to believe -- despite what we've been told since time immemorial -- that our engine's oil will last upwards of 5-10 thousand miles. Why? So that they won't have to deal with the punks at the EPA, that's why.

    Be smarter than they think you are! With the proper tools, anyone can change their own oil. Find the tools you need, find a source for parts, and go for it! When you've gone another 5k, simply return to your dealer for your 10k service, and they'll be none the wiser.
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  9. OP

    Ted New Member

    I have another question regarding the current oil specifications of 0W-20. For previous model years was the oil specified for the Corolla 5W-30 or something different? I've had three Toyotas previous to the Corolla and they each specified 5W-30. If so, what changed to allow the use of 0W-20? Was something done to the motor?
  10. rjreynolds

    rjreynolds New Member

    For previous model years, The Corolla was specified to use 5w-30 on different engines than the current one. However, it is a known fact, that many manufacturers, including Toyota, changed the oil weight recommendations for the exact same engines to Xw-20 after the EPA mandated the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards.

    I would say, it is possible, that Toyota would recommend 5w-30 oil today, for the 2ZR-FE engine, if it wasn't for The CAFE standards.
  11. OP

    Ted New Member

    So the change in specifications was not due to engineering but to bureaucracy. That just reinforces my plan to switch to 0W-30 when the 25,000 mile free service ends. I've been concerned that the 20 was not sufficient for the 100 degree temperatures we get here and elsewhere in the summer.
  12. rjreynolds

    rjreynolds New Member

    oil specs

    Yes, in some instances, specs were changed do to government mandates only and not engineering. I am currently using 5w-30 but will switch to 0w-30 in the winter or possibly at next oil change.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  13. corolla_mike

    corolla_mike New Member

    Wonder if the engine troubles from 2003+ were a result of Toyota's attempts to increase CAFE performance with the 0-weight oils? One of the culprits was the oil return holes in the pistons being too small/poorly machined, causing oil to back up in the cylinder heads and congeal (or something like that). Leave it to government to screw up the works.
  14. lswindell4

    lswindell4 OBXNX

    I asked our local toyota master mechanic (a really good guy) about the oil change interval. Specifically, I asked him would it be better if I changed the oil at 5,000 miles for the break-in oil on my 2012 Corolla S instead of 10,000. He had just returned from the master toyota mechanic course in which this was discussed and he told me that I should stick with the 10,000 mile intervals due to potential "teflon build-up" if you change the synthetic oil too often. Not sure if I follow that. Does the teflon go away as the oil changes? Good research topic.
  15. Forever Corolla

    Forever Corolla New Member

    Iswindell 4,

    Synthetics are GREAT, but your rings need to seat properly.
    It takes a while for them to seat (wear) so that they seal properly.
    I still believe in changing oil often, but the synthetics are actually a lot better than regular oil. This is an expert question, but again, my mindset is to buy the best protection and then change it sooner than later....
  16. Scout706

    Scout706 New Member

    I'm just guessing - the teflon is in the initial oil from the factory.

    Second guess - he was spoofing you. It's been a long hard process to get teflon and motor oil to work together .
  17. lswindell4

    lswindell4 OBXNX

    Break-in oil

    I feel that he may have been spoofing me too. I have ALWAYS changed out the "breakin" oil at an ealier interval than the normal oil change interval (as was always indicated by the owner's manuel) but my last 3 Toyota's all have called for 10,000 mile initial oil change. A primary reason I buy Toyotas, and new ones, is so I can maintain and keep a reliable auto for many years. The master technician also said that the new motors are built much better (like blueprinting a motor in the old days) and do not have the metal shavings in the breakin oil like earlier motors. Any more thoughts out there?:confused:
  18. Forever Corolla

    Forever Corolla New Member

    Actually there is a lot of truth to the above information. I am not convinced that they use a break in oil anymore, but they very well may still need one.
    Balancing: Pistons for each engine are much closer to the same weight when sorted and grouped as sets.
    Tolerances: Engine blocks are made to tighter specs due to better machining.
    Rings: have a special coating that is perhaps softer, but allows them to form and fit to the cylinder walls faster,
    There are a lot of reasons this is important and must happen, but this is not the forum to get into the specifics.
    Due to the lower HP requirements of our engines, there is inherently less wear and tear.
    There are quite a few reasons for this, but we did not buy our Corolla's to blow away BMW's at the stop light.
    We will more likely see 300,000 miles on the odometer at the actual finish line.
    They can have the next light, we will have the last one in the end.
    so, the big question is: How long should we wait to change the Oil? I would rather change it at its half life. But, what is it's full life?
    We all want to have a reliable car for the longest possible time.
    It is your decision.
    New oil means less wear.
    It takes a little while for engines to "Break In"
    The first oil change is the most crucial.
    You will get more metal particles with a brand new engine as it wears and breaks in. Your oil filter takes care of a lot of that, but I would recommend changing the filter at the first oil change..
    You have to decide for yourself what is best.
    I am not smarter than your engineers.
    Your engineers really have an interest in you being able to make it through your warranty, but are they really honestly going to look out for your best interest?
    Bottom line. If you want to get 300,000 miles out of your corolla, then this is an important issue. If you are planing on trading it before you get to 100,000 miles, it is of little importance.
    If you only plan on driving it for 30,000 miles, you could just top off your oil once a year... (That is meant as a joke, do not wait a year to check your oil)
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  19. Forever Corolla

    Forever Corolla New Member

    Oil viscosity

    The 0 viscosity allows the cold engine to turn over better when it is very cold outside compared to a straight 30 viscosity.
    It also allows the oil to circulate and to coat the cylinder walls better until the engine begins to warm up.

    Oil viscosity is a science in and of itself.
    Think about this for a few.
    A straight 30 viscosity will pour out of the can visually like a 30 viscosity at room temperature.
    A straight 30 viscosity may very well pour like a 100 weight (Honey) at zero degrees F, when compared to the visual we saw at room temperature.
    A straight 30 viscosity may pour like water at 200 degrees F when compared to our visual pouring at room temperature.

    A Multi-Viscosity will have a more consistent pour rate at different temperatures. You could say the oil will be more stable.

    A Multi Viscosity 0-30 oil may also visually pour like a 30 viscosity at room temperature.
    It may look like it pours the same at zero degrees F. (it pours like a straight 0 viscosity oil would if it were now at zero degrees F)
    It may visually look like it pours the same at 200 Degrees F. (if you heated a 100 viscosity room temperature oil up to 200 degrees, it would now pour like a 30 viscosity did at room temperature)

    In other words, the wider the range, the more stable the visual pour at various temperatures.

    It is my understanding that you should not mix different multi-viscosity synthetic oils, because the polymer chains are designed differently for each multi-viscosity product (Synthetics each have very specific polymer chains for each range). Also, in a perfect world, you should not mix different brands of synthetics, because they will use different polymer chains, That is why AMSOIL is Different than Mobil One, They are not the same product.
    There really is a difference, the performance between the two will be measurable. We have a lot of decisions. Price, Performance, Convenience. We all have different needs.

    This being said, in the long run, you may never see, feel or know the difference. You need oil. Oil needs to flow. Oil needs to coat. Oil needs to flow through the filter. Oil can wear out (Time, Dilution, Blow-by, Moisture and Shear).

    The statements above are not based on actual viscosity figures, but instead are just used to illustrate a visual of the reasons for Multi-viscosity.
    If you do not follow the points made above, it really is not important. Just follow the Manufactures recommendations.

    If you feel 30 will offer your Corolla better protection than a 20 viscosity, it is your Corolla. I will slowly make up my mind as I monitor the break in. Perhaps I may decide on a 0w-30..

    Again, the visual Viscosity ratings I applied above are made up.
    They do not in any way match up to the actual Industry rating system at the temperatures mentioned above.

    Just wanted to give my thoughts; to stress what might not be obvious, that the wider the range of the viscosity, the more stable the pouring rate of oil is at the different operating temperatures.

    Did I confuse anyone? Did I confuse everyone?

    Visual: Straight 30 at room temperature, Normal
    Visual: Straight 100 at room temperature, Honey
    Visual: Straight 0 at room temperature, Water

    Side Note: the "w" in the spec means Winter.
    Some people refer to the W as weight.
    The W does not mean weight.
    Viscosity has nothing to do with Weight.
    It would be wrong to refer to a straight 30 viscosity as 30 weight.

    I know that no one here would make that mistake, but it might be useful information for someone... So I included it for free...
    Might even add value to my 2 cents worth...
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  20. OP

    Ted New Member

    That was a very informative post but I do have one question. Tomorrow the temperature forecast for where I live is 102 and 103 on Monday. And, we're not even in the hot part of Summer yet. Wouldn't I be better off with 0W-30 oil instead of 0W-20?
  21. Forever Corolla

    Forever Corolla New Member


    First.. Does your Corolla have a thermostat?
    Does your thermostat open at a particular temperature?
    Does your radiator radiate?
    If you had a real temperature gauge attached, that would accurately monitor the coolant and the oil, would it register 10 degrees hotter?
    In the winter, when it is 32 degrees outside would this coolant be 10 degrees colder?

    So, if the coolant and the oil temp are kept at a reasonably consistent operating temperature, do you need a thicker oil?
    Or do you need a very good synthetic oil that has a broader range of operating temperatures?

    How about when you drive up a mountain? Or pull a trailer?

    Your engine was designed to use a particular viscosity.
    I can not answer this question.. I did not design the engine.
    Do you need better protection?

    We each will have to decide for ourselves.
    A more important question is: Do you have a good relationship with your Creator?
    I will trust in Him for my salvation.
    I trust Him more than I do the Designers at Toyota.
    I will probably follow their recommended specifications, but I could be converted to 0w-30.
    The argument would have to be convincing. It would have to prove not only reasonable, but also wise to reject their recommendation.
    Some decisions in life are important, but we all agree there are times when we can safely try something different.

    As a group, perhaps we can try both and compare notes in a few years.
    You may very well find we will get better gas mileage if we will just use the recommended 0w-20.
    If the engineers have worked in our best interests we may even get Longer Engine life by following their recommendations, but we will never get eternal life out of our Toyota engines.

    I will change my oil and filter at 5,000 miles and let Toyota Change my oil at 10,000 miles. YMMV.

    I will use either the Toyota Oil Filter, or I may use AMSOIL.

    Do not let me persuade you to do the same, unless you see wisdom in my decision..

    I acknowledge my lack of expert knowledge and experience.
    I do know there have been quite a few Corollas that have managed to make it to 300,000 miles and many have been driven right here at sea level in Florida.

    It is good you are questioning the established recommendation.
    Lets explore this further. Together we each have a lot of resources, knowledge and experience. The company line seems to include Teflon Build-up. I need convincing...
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  22. Scout706

    Scout706 New Member

    I also have a '12 S

    I checked my owners manual about hot temperatures, they stick to the 0w-20 recommendation, even in hot weather.
    I may change to a heavier oil in hot weather. . .after the warranty period.
  23. lswindell4

    lswindell4 OBXNX

    Whoa, don't know about the difference b/w 0W-30 and 0W-20 but I think I'll change my initial oil at 5,000 miles. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.
  24. Scout706

    Scout706 New Member

    Nothing original, but:

    Briefly, the 0W-30 will be a little bit more viscous - thicker, than the 0W-20 at operating temperature. This little difference in viscosity could make a difference at extra hot temperatures, say sustained 70 mph or lengthy stop n go city traffic -both while outside air temp is above 85 F. Almost daily here in southern USA summertime.

    To repeat, though, the change to 0W-20 was to improve results on the EPA mpg test.

    I will have a 'free' service at 5000 mi, I'm curious to see if they change the oil.
  25. lswindell4

    lswindell4 OBXNX

    0w-30 oil in Eastern N.C.

    I do live in the Southeast and temps in the summer are usually 90 plus or minus 5 degrees. I also live in the country and most of my driving consists of at least 20 mile (minimum) trips and quite often longer. Lots of the roads I drive on have 70 mph speedlimits, thus I am usually tooling along at 75 or so. Sounds like after I recieve my first two complimentary oil changes I should switch over to the 0W-30, at least for summer driving. Is the 0W-30 okay for winter driving here in Eastern N.C.? Sometimes the temperature drops into the 20's but usually it is in the 40's or 50's. Thanks for any help!
  26. Scout706

    Scout706 New Member

    I recommend the 5W-30 for spring-fall, and then if you have trouble finding 0w-30 for winter, just stick with 5W-30 year round.

    Who knows, the 0W-20 is still new, and could prove itself to be fine in the long run.
  27. Scott O'Kashan

    Scott O'Kashan Super Moderator

    Thicker is not always better, just like more is not always better, or bigger is always better, etc.

    Today's modern engines are manufactured to tighter clearances than engines of yesteryear for better emissions control and improved fuel economy. Using a thicker viscosity oil than is recommended by the manufacturer can result in increased engine wear/shortened engine life as the thicker oil viscosity can't get into these tighter clearances as fast as lighter viscosity oil is able to. Using a heavier viscosity oil than what is recommended can also reduce fuel economy and increase emissions.

    A 0W-20 oil is going to flow faster than a 0W-30 oil which means the
    0W-20 oil will help dissipate heat faster for a cooler running, longer lasting engine. Another benefit of this is that the engines gaskets and seals will also be cooler, not dry out/crack as readily and therefor not leak oil.

    Another benefit of a lighter viscosity oil is improved fuel economy, more power/torque with superior throttle response and reduced emissions.

    Service Managers run service departments and don't usually know very much about oil. :)
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  28. OP

    Ted New Member

    Since my last posts I've gone through a long, hot summer and did a bunch of traveling. Everything ran good and mpg was good. All this with the 0W-20 oil. Because of this I think I'll stick with this grade oil.

    On another note, the only brand I can find 0W-20 in 5 qt. jugs at our local stores is Pennzoil.
  29. BajaGordon

    BajaGordon New Member

    synthetic improves mileage from 33 to 36

    a congenital skeptic, i recently changed oil (to 0-20 synthetic) for the first time since purchasing my 09. it never even occurred to me to check the mileage but one day i look down and my average has gone from mid 33s to 36.5.

    this is an even bigger increase than i got from discovering how to put the automatic transmission into Drive. i had been using 3rd and thinking toyota had geared the car car incorrectly, though it really pulled on the highway. i am often amazed by life. love my corolla. gordon
  30. Corolla247

    Corolla247 New Member

    I just bought a 2011 corolla let last week with 32k on the motor, I will run Mobil one 0w-20 these motors will be perfectly fine running a 20 weight oil. Mobil one and Royal Purple are the only two oils I would run unless I had money for Amsoil. The oil will be fine for a daily driver as they motors don't spin a lot of rpms and cook the oil like my old civic with a b16a that would see 6000-8400 rpms to keep it in vtec. Toyota says to run 0w-20 because its to help get better MPG and these oils are just as fine as a 30weightt but gets better MPG. 0w-20 is going to be the new standard oil for its comparable characteristics to 5w-30 but better mpg for the car industry
  31. Scott O'Kashan

    Scott O'Kashan Super Moderator

    I can probably get you a lower price for AMSOIL synthetic 0W-20 than what you'd pay for Mobil 1. What are you paying for Mobil 1? Send me a private message and I'll see what I can do for you.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  32. Daniel Engelmann

    Daniel Engelmann New Member

    The best oil to use is 5w- 20 for a toyota 4 cylinder engine in the usa. I do engine work on all types of cars. This is the best oil weight !
  33. Daniel Engelmann

    Daniel Engelmann New Member

    The best oil to use is 5w- 20 for a toyota 4 cylinder engine in the usa. I do engine work on all types of cars. This is the best oil weight ! Also, Use Valvoline Dura Max Blend !
  34. fishycomics

    fishycomics New Member

    I only use that for my 2010. but I use different for the2007 as well don't care what goes in my 91 anymore. And only used OW-20 on the2013 no longer with us, and soon the same for the 2016. I won't put certain brands in, just me.
  35. Scott O'Kashan

    Scott O'Kashan Super Moderator

    Using the incorrect viscosity of oil can void the engine warranty of a vehicle. An oil that is thicker than the recommended viscosity will also decrease fuel economy, increase emissions, can cause harder cold engine starts, increase engine wear and also increase engine temperatures, which can accelerate the formation of engine sludge.
  36. Scott O'Kashan

    Scott O'Kashan Super Moderator

    Semi-synthetic or blend oils are allowed to have as little as 1% synthetic oil in the blend. If the bottle of blend oil doesn't state what the percentage of synthetic oil is in the blend, buyer beware.

    Adding petroleum oil to a synthetic oil reduces the performance of the synthetic oil.
  37. fishycomics

    fishycomics New Member

    I mix oil oh boy my warranty is out of warranty I must be in trouble, and yes the past ten years all types went in to the car. so tell me why its so bad please.

    We here are nt subject to use one brand one company and when you find something you like you use it or can afford it. that said top dollar oil and mix does not mean your car will run the best. or filtering your own oil and sticking it back in. You ant to sell some one or teach one there is a difference. don ttake the comment the wrong way. Like said I mixed my oils and the car is running FINE
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  38. Scott O'Kashan

    Scott O'Kashan Super Moderator

    I'm confident Toyota engineers know what the proper oil viscosity is for their vehicles. The recommended viscosity listed in the Toyota Corolla's owners manual is there for a reason.
  39. fishycomics

    fishycomics New Member

    talking about one company and not suggesting others, is....

  40. fishycomics

    fishycomics New Member

    recycled oil, isMix oils. I doubt you would see a container that said )w-20 this recycle bin, the shopsdon't have room for 20 different bins just saying
  41. Scott O'Kashan

    Scott O'Kashan Super Moderator

    Recycled oils? I thought the topic was oil viscosity?
  42. fishycomics

    fishycomics New Member

    And recycled oils are on the market with that. so it still is topic

    Thickness means for me don't use a thick oil in Winter. But yet when you have a oil cooled turbo, and XX-50 needs to be used. you then have no choice.

    and thin oils in the Summer for economy (fuel saving).

    and using the recommended grades.... it can become quite confusing to the plug-n-play world
  43. fishycomics

    fishycomics New Member

    OW-20 is what the owners manual says, it also tells you that you can sub out but need to replace back in OW-20. On the shelves at stores are SAE-20, where not knowing if it is 5W, 10W, etc. Also on the shelves there are Oils that say Oil and synthetic blend, and synthetic, as well recycled.
  44. Scott O'Kashan

    Scott O'Kashan Super Moderator

  45. fishycomics

    fishycomics New Member

    Oil.. Lubes.

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