Lawn Mower Oil Change – Will Car Oil Work?

Lawn Mower Oil Change - Will Car Oil Work?

Lawn mowers require oil to function correctly. Without it, the internal mechanisms will grind together and reduce its longevity. If you want to make sure that your lawn mower stands the test of time, you’ll need to change its oil every now and then. 

But what oil is best to use in a lawn mower? Today we’ll be walking you through the basics of changing lawn mower oil. 

While oil maintenance isn’t the most appealing job to do, it is incredibly important. Keeping on top of this will save you money in the long run and ensure that your lawn mower is always in running condition. 

Plus, it’s not difficult to do! 

Let’s take a look at the right oil you should be using in your lawn mower.

Can You Use Car Oil In A Lawn Mower? 

Yes, you can use car oil to replenish your lawn mower. But this doesn’t mean that it is the best option for you. Before you jump to using your car oil, there are a few things that you should know first. 

Lawn Mower Oil Quality

Lawn mower oil is generally higher in price because it is higher in quality. SAE 30 motor oil is the type we use for our lawn mowers, but make sure that you check your mower’s manual before using a new oil. Some mowers require a specific oil and can be damaged by using another. 

We always recommend using the oil that your lawn mower’s manual suggests. This is what the manufacturer recommends and, as they made the equipment, we trust their judgment the best. 

However, if you want to use a different oil, remember that the higher the quality, the better it will serve your lawn mower. Don’t go for the cheaper alternative, it’s not worth the potential damage it could cause to the engine. 

SAE 30 is the lowest quality you’ll want to aim for. Anything lower than that will be lessening the quality of the engine overtime. 

What Does This Have To Do With Car Oil? 

Cars can handle lesser quality oil thanks to the materials they’re made with. Cars go through much more oil than lawn mowers, so it would be very cost ineffective to only allow SAE 30 oils and over for cars – many people might not even be able to afford the upkeep. 

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So, the car oil that you currently have is likely going to be less expensive and therefore lower quality than a lawn mower requires. 

This means that you can use car oil for your lawn mower when you’re in a pinch, but we would recommend something better quality for continued use. Unless, that is, you use the most expensive oil for your car. It all depends on the quality of the oil in question. 

Changing The Oil In Your Lawn Mower

Many people don’t realize the importance of changing the oil in your lawn mower. In fact, you should actually be changing the oil as regularly as you do your car. 

This is especially true for those using their lawn mowers in dusty and dry climates where particles could make their way into the oil. 

But what about if you don’t use your lawn mower very often? The frequency will remain the same no matter how often you use it – changing the oil is imperative to ensuring clean oil is lubricating the internal systems of your lawn mower to keep it on top of its game. 

How Often Is This, Exactly? 

The amount you’ll need to change your lawn mower’s oil will depend on a number of factors. However, our recommendation is that you change it every other mowing season at least. If you have the time and money to do so, we change our oil at the beginning of every single year. 

Bear in mind that this is generalized advice and it might not apply to your situation. You might need to change your oil more or less frequently than this depending on your mower, climate, grass, and more. 

A good way to determine when you need to change your oil is when you see smoke coming from the mower. Another way to check is using the dipstick. Pull it out and clean it with a clean rag before inserting the dipstick back into the oil. 

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If it comes out again dark black and dirty rather than slick, you should change the oil at your earliest convenience. 

How To Change The Oil In Your Lawn Mower

How To Change The Oil In Your Lawn Mower

First and foremost, you should always check the user manual for your mower. This will tell you what oil you should be using and how to properly change the oil. If you don’t have the manual to hand, you can often find it online with the make and model of your lawn mower. 

Now that you have a rough idea of how to change the oil, we’re going to give you a list of steps on how to do it. Manuals are never the easiest things to read, so we hope that this will offer up some clarity! 

Changing The Oil – Numbered Steps

  1. Remove all of the gasoline from your mower’s fuel tank. This is optional but we advise doing it as a safety precaution. 
  2. Disconnect the spark plug wire. Again, this is optional but we highly recommend it as a safety precaution.
  3. Check for an oil drain plug on your lawn mower.
  4. If you find an oil drain plug, open it to drain all of the oil oil into a container. 
  5. If your mower does not have an oil drain plug, tilt the mower on its side (ensuring that the carburetor is on the raised side) and drain all of the oil out of the dipstick hole. This is where you’d usually add the oil. We recommend using a long funnel so that you don’t spill the oil everywhere. 
  6. Tilt the lawn mower back up the right way and add new, clean oil into the dipstick hole. 

That’s it! That’s how easy it is to change the oil in your lawn mower. It might not be the most interesting thing to spend your time doing, but the effects are more than worth it. 

What Oil Should You Use For Your Lawn Mower?

Car oil is a good idea if you have absolutely no other options, or the quality is SAE 30 or above. However, if the quality is less than this, we would not recommend using it for a prolonged period of time. 

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Instead, we would recommend going to your local hardware store and looking for a specialty lawn mower oil. These are smaller in size and tend to come in the correct sizes so that one bottle will contain all the oil you need for one change without overfilling the tank. 

Yes, they’re more expensive. But they’re also better for keeping your lawn mower running for longer, and keeping it effective throughout every growing season.

While you might save some money on car oil, you’ll likely end up spending that on extra repairs or an entire new lawn mower after your current one breaks down prematurely. 

Here are some of our favorite lawn mower engine oils for you to consider. 

Briggs & Stratton 100005 SAE 30W Engine Oil – 18 Oz

Briggs & Stratton 100005 SAE 30W Engine Oil - 18 Oz

This oil is a great option for newbies to the oil change scene, as it is inexpensive and easy to use. Briggs & Stratton make plenty of lawn mowers, so we think that they know what they’re talking about when it comes to oil! 

This is the oil that our lawn mower takes almost every single change, and we’ve had no issues with it yet! 

Premium Small Engine 4 Cycle Oil Formula

STP Premium Small Engine 4 Cycle Oil Formula, SAE-30 Small Engine Oil Engine Care Reduces Wear for Lawnmower, Push Mower, Tractor, 32 Oz

This oil is specifically formulated for small engines, such as lawn mowers, and is therefore excellent for yearly oil changes. The quality is great for an SAE 30 oil, and each bottle contains 32 ounces! That makes this a great investment with a low upfront cost. 

Offer your lawn mower better premium protection for less! 


Thanks for reading! We hope that this article has answered some of your questions about whether or not you should be using car oil in your lawn mower. While it is okay when there are no other options, we wouldn’t recommend it – unless your car oil was of high enough quality. 

You’re better off choosing a specialist lawn mower oil to keep your engine in excellent condition.