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What is 0w-16 motor oil, and can I use 0w-20 instead? In this article we go through what 0w-16 motor oil is, why it is recommended, and what the best available 0w-16 motor oil is!

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0W-16 Motor Oil

0w-16 motor oil is specifically called for in some vehicles due to the increased fuel economy it provides. Legislative requirements mandating increased fuel economy and decreased CO2 emissions has been a major factor in the push for lower viscosity motor oils in consumer-grade vehicles (ref). 

But that is not the only reason, in fact, low viscosity oils including 0w-16 have been in use in Japan since the 1990’s (ref). So, though it may seem unusual, it is only likely to become more common in North America and elsewhere as well, as is seen in the use of 0w-16 oil already in many North American Toyota and Honda vehicles.

Lower viscosity oil means less resistance for the moving parts within the car. The other side of the coin here is that lower viscosity can also mean increased engine wear. For engines that call for 0w-16 engine oil, the designing engineers have approved this oil based on the tighter tolerances used in the engine design and determined that it is safe for the vehicle. The other benefit of using a ‘thinner’ oil is reduced engine warm-up time, though this effect may be minimal. All 0w-16 motor oil is synthetic.

This probably goes without saying, but for purposes of clarity and directness, if your vehicle does not call for 0w-16 weight engine oil, do not use it! An engine must be precisely designed for the use of this oil in order for it to be used.

What is the Best 0W-16 Oil?

The best 0W-16 motor oil available is the genuine Toyota oil (which is made by Mobil 1 to the Toyota specifications) (ref and ref). The motivations of Toyota are the longevity of the vehicle and the fuel efficiency (in order to pass standards). The motivations of oil manufacturers are to meet the specifications and after that, to save costs.

The oil should state API SN and “Resource Conserving.” Both of these designations will be visible in the SAE “donut” symbol on the bottle that has the oil certifications in it.

Genuine Toyota 0w-16 Motor Oil (Case)

Where can I get 0W-16 Oil?

0W-16 motor oil is becoming more and more common as new efficiency standards roll out. That being said, it is still not available everywhere. For this reason, I recommend ordering from a reliable retailer.

Engine Oil Viscosity Grades

SAE (the Society of Automotive Engineers) has developed a grading system for the viscosity of engine oil. Essentially there are two numbers that describe the oil viscosity characteristics at ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ operating regimes. This ability to have two viscosity performance values was enabled by the introduction of oil additive technology.

The kinematic viscosity is determined by measuring the amount of time it takes for the oil to pass through an orifice of a given size at a given temperature. The more time it takes, the more viscous the oil is, and the higher the number assigned. (Note that the grading scale is different for transmission or transaxle oil, so should not be used as a direct comparison.)

The cold temperature performance is indicated by a “w” (for ‘winter’) and consists of the first number in the grading scale. There are 5 values associated with the ‘winter’ performance (0W, 5W, 10W, 15W and 20W). The second number refers to the high temperature (100C) performance, and there are 7 values associated with it (8, 12, 16, 20, 30, 40, 50). 

It is interesting to note that as the viscosity of the high temperature performance continues to decrease, SAE decided to go down in intervals of 4 rather than 5, to reduce confusion since the high temperature number is now within the same range as the cold (‘W’) performance number (I, for one, thought this was clever)! Anyway, the result is that the lower end of the high temperature performance goes from 20, to 16, then to 8, and finally to 4.

What are the Specifications of GTMO 0W-16?

The specifications of Genuine Toyota Motor Oil 0W-16 are very difficult to find. The official GTMO 0W-16 Spec Sheet is in Japanese. The following is a summary of the key specifications:

Toyota Genuine 0W-16 Method Result
Viscosity @ 100C, cSt ASTM D455 7.1 cSt
Viscosity @ 40C, cSt ASTM D455 32.5 cSt
Viscosity Index ASTM D2270 191
HT/HS viscosity, cP min ASTM D4683 2.3 cP, min
Pour Point (C), max ASTM D97 -27 C, max
Flash Point PMCC C, min ASTM D92 200 C, min
Density ASTM D4052 0.846
Vapor Pressure @20C ASTM D323 0.013 kPa

What are the Specifications of Mobil 1 0W-16 Advanced Fuel Economy?

The Mobil 1 website has the Spec Sheet for Mobil 1 0W-16 Advanced Fuel Economy Synthetic Oil. The following is a summary of the key specifications (the spec sheet does not include all of typical parameters):

Mobil 1 0W-16 (Adv. Fuel Eco.) Method Result
Viscosity @ 100C, cSt ASTM D455 7.2 cSt
Viscosity @ 40C, cSt ASTM D455  
Viscosity Index ASTM D2270  
HT/HS viscosity, cP min ASTM D4683  
Pour Point (C), max ASTM D97 -54 C, max
Flash Point PMCC C, min ASTM D92 228 C, min
Density ASTM D4052 0.838
Vapor Pressure @20C ASTM D323  

Can I use 0W-20 instead of 0W-16 oil?

This is a very common question, and in general, the answer is “Yes.” Especially if it is not done regularly, this is very unlikely to have adverse effects on the engine performance. But, that being said, it is a good idea to check your owner’s manual to verify this. Most vehicles that require 0w-16 oil will also state in the manual that if 0w-16 is unavailable, that 0w-20 oil may be used (but to replace it with 0w-16 at the next oil change).

If you can’t access 0W-16 oil, I recommend one of the following 0W-20 motor oils:

  1. Mobil 1 Extended Performance Full-Synthetic 0W-20
  2. Castrol Edge Advanced Full-Synthetic 0W-20
  3. Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Full-Synthetic 0W-20
BrandMobil 1CastrolPennzoil
Link
Mobil 1 Extended Performance
Full-Synthetic 0W-20

Castrol Edge Advanced
Full-Synthetic 0W-20
Pennzoil Ultra Platinum
Full-Synthetic 0W-20
Weight0W-200W-200W-20
APIAPI SNAPI SNAPI SN
ILSACILSAC GF-5ILSAC GF-5ILSAC GF-5
Density (g/cc) 15C0.8390.8560.839
Flash Point (C)235220224
Viscosity (100C) cSt8.68.68.8
Viscosity (40C) cSt44.949.3546.3
Viscosity Index173161172
HT/HS Viscosity (cP, min)2.72.6
Spec SheetMobile1 Spec SheetCastrol Spec SheetPennzoil Spec Sheet
Comparison Table for 0W-20 Engine Oil – Full Synthetic