Car Oil vs Motorcycle Oil

by Chris Lewis.

There is a lot of debate over what kind of oil is best for your car: conventional or synthetic. But what about motorcycle oil? Is it really necessary to use motorcycle-specific oil in a motorcycle engine? And if so, why? In this post, we'll take a closer look at the differences between car and motorcycle oils, and explore why you might want to consider using motorcycle oil in your bike. Stay tuned!

Car Oil vs Motorcycle Oil
Car Oil vs Motorcycle Oil

Car Oil

Car Oil
Car Oil

Car oil plays a very vital role in your car engine. It is used to lubricate the parts of car engines. Why? It's because while driving parts of your car engine move a lot which causes friction. This friction if left untreated can cause serious issues for your car. So, Car oil is used to reduce the friction caused by moving parts. The oil will reduce the friction and as a result, the engine would work better. An oiled engine will work better and will work for a long period. As car oil can also increase the life span of engine parts.

Car Oil
Car Oil

In addition, car oil reduces fuel consumption as there is a direct relationship between fuel consumption and friction between the engine parts. For instance, there is no or more than the required amount of car oil for the engine parts; this will affect the engine's efficiency. The friction will reduce the efficiency which in return will eat more fuel. To avoid more fuel consumption, oiling your engine frequently is the best option.

Motorcycle Oil

Motorcycle oil is not only used for the engine but also the gearbox. Its role is to provide lubrication to both gearbox and the engine. Plus, motorcycle oil has the ability to lubricate the transmission components. But lubrication is not the only job that this oil performs. In addition, the oil also helps in cooling the engine parts.

Motorcycle Oil
Motorcycle Oil

The oil has a higher friction property that is used for the lubrication of wet clutch. The clutch basically provides power for the drive train. The higher the frictional property the higher will be the clutch performance. The friction level also affects fuel efficiency.

On one hand, the friction properties are on the higher side then the fuel efficiency will be less. On the other hand, the fuel efficiency will be higher if the oil has low frictional property. As a result, motorcycle oil has to maintain a perfect balance of friction level and fuel efficiency.

Differences between Motorcycle Oil and Car Oil


Car oil comes in four different types including:

  • Synthetic car oil
  • Synthetic blend car oil
  • High mileage car oil
  • Conventional car oil

Synthetic car oil is prepared by a chemical engineering procedure. Synthetic oil is designed to perform in both high and low temperatures. The oil is made from uniformly shaped molecules and has fewer impurities.

Car oil comes in four different types
Car oil comes in four different types

Synthetic blend car oil is made from both conventional base and synthetic oil. The oil can provide low-temperature properties and is resistant to oxidation.

High mileage car oil is produced for old models of cars and for cars that have a mileage of over 75000 miles. The oil contains important additives and is uniquely formed which helps lower oil burnouts. Plus, it helps to eliminate oil leaks in older engines. Conventional car oil is formulated for drivers with simple car engines and for cars that are used for regular driving purposes. The motorcycle oil however has only three types:

  • Mineral motorcycle oil
  • Semi-synthetic motorcycle oil
  • Fully synthetic motorcycle oil

Mineral oil is used mainly in engines that have small capacities and is the most common kind of bike oil. It is recommended that the new bikers should use mineral oil because it provides excellent protection for the engine while you run it for the very first few miles.

Mineral oil
Mineral oil

As the name implies, synthetic motorcycle oil is a perfect blend of both synthetic and mineral oils. As a result, the oil has acquired both high performance and high protection qualities of synthetic and mineral oil. The semi-synthetic motorcycle oil is a perfect fit for bikes of smaller capacities.

Fully synthetic motorcycle oil can be considered the best motorcycle oil. It is the complete opposite of mineral oil. As it is made of artificial products while mineral oil is fully made of natural products this type of oil best suits heavy bikes and high-performance engines. Plus, the oil is of great quality and has a long life span.


Besides lubrication, motorcycle oil has the ability to cool down the components of a bike's engine. Although the bike has its own cooling system, the motorcycle oil also has to provide some cooling to the engine by eliminating the heat.

The car oil however doesn't need to provide cooling as cars have their own cooling system called robust cooling. As a result car oil only lubricates the engine parts. It is important to mention that car oil can provide cooling but the car can function fine even without the car oil cooling.



The viscosity of oil (whether it's motorcycle oil or car oil) is a very important factor you should consider while you buy oil for your vehicle. However, both car and motorcycle oils have different viscosity levels depending upon the type of oil you are buying. If you expose your engine to a type of oil that has less or higher viscosity levels than your engine's need, it will be harmful to the engine.

Motorcycle oils typically have more viscosity as compared to motor oil. A bike needs higher viscosity to maintain the transmission performance and working of its wet clutch. The car oil on the other hand does not need a high viscosity level. It can work perfectly well on lower viscosity levels. In fact, car oil has lower viscosity which is needed for efficient engine performance and smooth power transmission.

Ash Content:

Ash content in the oil is another main difference between car oil and motorcycle oil. Ash content depends upon the number of detergent additives found in the oil. If the oil has a high quantity of detergent additives then the Ash content will also be high. However, if the ash content in oil is low it means the oil has fewer detergent additives. The motorcycle oil has low ash content because the detergent additives used in motorcycle oil are less in quantity. However, the car oil has a relatively higher quantity of detergent additives which results in high ash content found in car oils.

Friction Level:

We can also distinguish both types of oil by their friction level. Motorcycle oil carries high frictional properties because it has to maintain a balance between the performance of the wet clutch and fuel efficiency. While car oil carries a low friction level that helps maintain fuel efficiency and gives high mileage. So the friction level of car oil is low compared to motorcycle oil.


Both car oil and motorcycle oil are different from one another on so many levels. Yet there is a similarity between the two that is their lubrication property. As they both lubricate the parts of the engine. But there also lies a difference between the two oils because of the fact that motorcycle oil is responsible to lubricate both the gearbox and the engine. But the car oil is only responsible for lubricating the engine.

Summary Table of Car Oil vs Motorcycle Oil

Car Oil Motorcycle Oil
  • Lubricates only the engine
  • Lubricates both engine and the gearbox
  • Has lower friction level
  • Has higher friction level
  • Has a lower viscosity level
  • Has a higher viscosity level
  • Not necessarily cools the engine
  • Provides cooling to the engine
  • Higher Ash content
  • Low ash content

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Can we use motorcycle oil for our car's engine?

Answer: The answer is simply no because car oil is different from motorcycle oil. The car engine needs oil with less viscosity and friction levels which can only be found in car oils. The motorcycle oil has high friction and viscosity level which will reduce the transmission performance as well as the fuel efficiency of your car. So try not to use motorcycle oil for your precious car.

Question 2: Can we use car oil for our bike's engine?

Answer: Again the answer is no, you can not use car oil for your motorcycle. Because the viscosity and friction levels of car oil are relatively lower as compared to bike oil. This will affect the performance of the wet clutch as low friction can not efficiently lubricate the clutch and becomes slippery for the clutch to perform. Moreover, car oil has a relatively higher amount of ash content and detergent additives that can be harmful to the motorcycle engine.

Question 3: Which type of motorcycle oil is better?

Answer: All three types of motorcycle oil have their benefits and purposes. But the oil that is best for heavy bikes and high-performance bikes is the fully synthetic motorcycle oil. This oil is designed for high-performance bike engines to provide lubrication under pressure too. They also have a longer lifespan and are better than the other two types in terms of quality too.


To sum it up, car oil and motorcycle oil are different from each other based on their viscosity, friction level, lubrication; ash content, cooling as well as they differs by type too. That means both oils are not interchangeable. You can only use motorcycle oil for your bike and car oil for your car.

About Chris Lewis.

Thoughts on "Car Oil vs Motorcycle Oil"