Motorcycle Oil Vs. Car Oil

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Out of oil in your car or your motorcycle? Well, there may be motorcycle oil available for you to use. Before you try them out, you read about all of the dangers of exchanging these oils.

The simplest answer to whether is there a difference between car oil and motorcycle oil is that they cannot be interchanged.

They vary greatly, and no one oil can be used for both sorts of transportation. Many factors play their role in this, including viscosity and differences in cooling properties.

This article is dedicated to explaining to you exactly is the difference between the two. If you are confident that they are interchangeable, reading this article is compulsory. You may very well be shocked by the answers given.

So, without any further ado, let’s get straight into it!

Is Motorcycle Oil The Same As Car Oil?

Understanding the differences between car oil and motorcycle oil

This section of the article will discuss the main differences between the two types of oil. It is recommended to read through it entirely as this information can potentially save your bike or car from major repairs.

1. Viscosity

Viscosity is one major factor that contributes to differences between types of oil. In the case of a motorcycle, its oil is of considerably higher viscosity than what is used in a car. Bikes need higher viscosity oils because of the wet clutch.

In the case of cars, their oil has a lower overall viscosity because they aim to make driving as smooth as possible. From smooth transmission movements to overall performance, only low viscosity oil helps achieve that.

2. Lubrication

There is one difference between how they are used. Another key difference between the two is lubrication.

This is a property of oil where it tries to reduce friction between the moving parts as much as possible. This allows for a greater lifespan and improved performance.

A motorcycle uses the same oil for the gearbox, while that is not the case with a car. A car needs a completely separate lubricant for the gearbox.

If you try to pour the same thing there, you may be looking at thousands of dollars of repairs because the transmission will get ruined.

3. Cooling

Now, this is something many of you may not be familiar with. The oil in a motorcycle has been designed to lubricate the components while cooling the engine. The reason for this is that these engines run considerably hotter when compared to cars.

Because there are so many components working close to each other, the engine’s temperature is raised considerably. The oil allows the even transfer of heat, which ensures that there will be no overheating.

In the case of a car, the oil is only present to act as a lubricant. Yes, it does help in managing the temperature a bit, but that is not its true purpose. Cooling the engine is done by the coolant, which allows for cooling the hot engine.

4. Ash Content

Ash content is another major factor that affects oil performance and sets the difference between them. Ash content is calculated by looking at the number of detergents present in the oil. These additives are there to ensure that the oil is not affected by contaminants too much.

5. Friction

Friction is perhaps the main part differentiating between car oil and motorcycle oil. The engine needs oil with as little friction as possible because the transmission needs to move smoothly.

As friction needs to be a bit high on motorcycles due to the wet clutch, the same is not the case with cars.

Can I Use Motorcycle Oil In My Car?

Now, on to the question many of you have been waiting for. Although this was answered in the introduction, let’s take a more in-depth look into this.

So, what if motorcycle oil is used instead of car oil? Well, you can expect to run into several issues.

Fact that lower viscosity oil is needed for the running of a car, the first thing you can expect is a drop in fuel efficiency.

There will be a drastic difference, and it will be noticeable. It does not end there. As has been explained before, the oil that is used in a bike has considerably high friction.

With it in the engine, the transmission system will lock up. The high friction can also lead to the chopping off of some components, which can cause further damage to the engine.

If this happens, then you are looking at a potential engine replacement.

Using Car Oil In A Motorcycle

Now, this is another scenario for which you must know the answer. Some of you might be thinking that because car oil has less friction and is less dense than motorcycle oil, using it will not cause a problem.

That is where you would be wrong once again. Car oil is different from motorcycle oil on so many levels that the motorcycle’s engine will surely be damaged if you try to use it.

Other issues will arise with the use of car oil. As the clutch needs oil that provides higher friction, using car oil will slip. This can be extremely dangerous while driving and can result in a serious accident.

As car oil has a considerably higher ash content, much more than what is required by a motorcycle engine, the additives can start depositing on the piston crown and the valve train.

Now, how is this dangerous? These deposits will prevent both of these parts from functioning at peak efficiency. You will experience severely reduced performance, almost like your bike is in limp mode.

If the additive content is too high, you can even expect the bike to stall on the road. You may already be aware of how dangerous this is.

Difference In RPM

This section of the article has information that other articles have rarely stated. Although most issues have been discussed, which can occur by interchanging oils, there are things about viscosity that must be considered.

You may already know that bikes run hotter and faster when talking about the engine. Motorbike engines run at a casual 10000 to 20000 RPM, which is ten times what car engines achieve.

Although this is nothing to worry about, you should take tension if you try to interchange the oil on your bike.

As the dense property of oil creates a thin layer that resides on top of it, the high RPM can cut through it, resulting in the lubrication property of the oil being eliminated. This means there will be no gap between the moving components.

They are bound to fail with them moving at such a high speed. The engine will also be filled with broken shards of components, which will damage it to the point that only a replacement will be possible.

Mixing Motorcycle Oil With Car Oil

So, you just used up all of your oil, and now there is nothing left except for some motorcycle oil in the garage. Whether these oils look similar or not, their properties and functionality are vastly different.

So, what could mixing them do? Surely nothing fatal. Well, you would be wrong once again if you tried to do that.

  • An interesting fact is that even mixing car oils can degrade performance. Each oil has its rating, which means there will be performance degradation when mixing them.
  • So, you can expect much worse issues when you try to mix motorcycle and car oil, regardless of which vehicle you use it in.
  • Mixing both of them will change the overall characteristics of the oil. The oil will be less viscous and will also be more lubricating.
  • The lower friction means that there will be an issue with the wet clutch, which will exhibit problems such as slipping.
  • This can be extremely dangerous on the road and lead to a serious accident.

Motorcycle Oil Standards

Did you know that motorcycle oils have standards too? They are not similar to the ones found on cars but knowing the difference between them is extremely crucial.

There are two sorts of bikes in the market, manual and automatic. Both of them use different types of oils. The common misconception is that both can use the same type. Well, that is not the case.

This issue was raised in 1998, and JASO, the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization, created two standards for motorcycle oils.

They are called MA, for automatic transmissions, and MB, for bikes with automatic transmission. So, you should be on the lookout for these markings. These are normally clearly stated, so you should not have any issues.

Some bikes also have different oil viscosities. Well, if your bike does not work on normal motorcycle oil, then you should be on the lookout once again.

If the oil you add is too thin or too dense, you can get into serious transmission issues.

Using Car Oil In Motorcycles With Automatic Transmission

If you have ever wondered about this, you must know that the engine of a motorcycle is quite similar to that of a car.

Due to the similarities in their functions, using car engine oil for an automatic motorcycle is not detrimental.

However, it is important to remember that if you keep doing so for a longer period, you may start to notice the differences between the two oils.

This can start to take a toll on your motorcycle engine and may eventually result in much bigger problems for you.

Motorcycle oil is essentially used to lubricate both the engine and the transmission, whereas this is not the same case for a car oil that cannot be used to lubricate the engine and transmission together.

You should be aware that motorcycle oil contains some vital components that a motorcycle needs and cannot survive to function without it for longer.

Lacking these vital components for longer will break down the engine, which may not perform.

So, to sum up, you can use car oil in a motorcycle with automatic transmission, but it will not be viable in the long term. You should be aware of that before you attempt something like this.


If you were wondering and asking is there a difference between car oil and motorcycle oil, I can guarantee you that you will not find a more detailed article elsewhere.

With all sorts of possibilities and issues covered, this article has provided you with all the information you need to know.

Before I end this article, I must repeat that motorcycle, and car oil should not be interchanged. It can lead to drastic performance issues, with repairs costing thousands of dollars.

I know that my readers are smart enough, but it is never too late to warn someone.

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