Can Engine Oil Get You Better Gas Mileage?

Is Engine Oil the Secret to Increased Fuel Economy?

With ever-fluctuating, but ultimately always-increasing gas prices, there seems to be a new way to increase fuel economy being talked about daily. One of the new(er) trends in ways to save money on gas by increasing fuel economy is through the use of special engine oil designed to give engines better gas mileage.

With that being said. Is engine oil the secret we’ve all been missing when it comes to making the gas in our vehicles go further? Or is engine oil designed for “better fuel economy” just another marketing scheme looking to cash in on customers’ (and the federal government’s) insatiable appetite for more miles per gallon?

Most drivers aren’t mechanics, so asking how the engine oil can affect gas mileage is a fair question and one that I hope to adequately explain in this post.

How could engine oil affect fuel economy?

Man pouring advance fuel economy oil
Is there a correlation between engine oil and improved fuel economy?

In an effort to keep up with rapidly changing emissions standards and rising fuel prices, automotive manufacturers have spent billions of dollars trying to develop the next big technology in terms of fuel economy.

On the consumer side, drivers are doing anything possible to save money on gas in 2023. There are various free resources like the Upside app that give people upwards of .25 cents a gallon to get fuel at different gas stations and many stores are offering savings as part of their rewards programs, but can we ever really have too many miles per gallon? I drive a Chevy truck and aside from apps like Upside, I also shop around and keep the air in my tires adequate just to pinch every last liter of fuel out of it.

Weight or “Viscosity” of oil does impact gas mileage.

One area of innovation that automakers and engine oil brands are focused on in 2023 is coming up with lighter oils that are designed to add more mpg without compromising lubrication and longevity of the engine in the process.

The key thing about engine oil that affects a vehicles fuel economy is its weight. This is the main reason newer engines are designed to run on 0w-20 and other similar viscosity engine oil. What it boils down to is, how much energy is consumed pumping oil throughout the engine and how much friction is created in the process?

By decreasing the weight- or viscosity (drag) of the lubricant, the engine naturally becomes more efficient and consumes less fuel to achieve the same results with a heavier oil grade.

A key component to the question of engine oil and mph is- how can the weight of the oil be reduced enough to impact fuel economy without also impacting lubrication and the eventual life of the engine components?


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Big Oil is using chemistry to increase fuel economy

In order to produce engine oils that increase fuel economy, big oil companies like Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Shell are using additives and friction-modifiers to reduce the amount of energy used to circulate oil and in turn increase the number of miles per gallon an engine will achieve.

What’s a friction-modifier mean?

Friction is by definition– “the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another.” So, the point of any compound made to modify friction is to either increase or decrease the amount of energy used when two surfaces- such as pistons and cylinder walls or connecting rods and crankshaft bearings- touch each other.

In the case of engine oil friction modifiers like Hot Shot FR3, the goal is obviously to decrease friction in the engine and cause it to use less energy while still achieving the same amount of power. By doing so, the engine is able to travel a longer distance on the same amount of fuel because it needs to produce less energy.


What kind of engine oil additives can help fuel economy?

When it comes to engine oil, its almost entirely the viscosity (weight) that has a direct impact on the fuel economy of the engine. For this reason, manufacturers are shifting to much lighter oils- some as light as 0w-8 in order to reduce the amount of energy needed to circulate it throughout the internals of the engine.

The problem with using lighter oil in an engine is there a higher potential for internal wear due to parts coming in contact with each other and this is where the additives come in. Instead of changing the viscosity of the oil to increase lubrication, companies are using synthetic chemicals to help with wear and degradation of internal parts in the engine.


New oils allow engines to be designed for better fuel economy.

Gas station

Another often overlooked aspect of the conversation is how new lubrication technology can affect the way engines are being designed. One particular development in fuel economy is the turbocharged, direct-injected engine which can run better on low viscosity oil due to the smaller size of the engine.

It’s been proven that direct-injected engines are better on gas but also come accompanied by a host of other problems like carbon build-up, oil burning and pre-ignition due to high pressure, high temp operating conditions. This makes choosing the right engine oil even more important to combat the known issues in GDI engines while still reaping the rewards of better fuel economy.


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How much can engine oil increase fuel economy?

Now that you know how engine oil can increase fuel economy, it’s likely you wanna know how much gas you can save using engine oil’s designed to give you better gas mileage.

Although there are too many variables to say exactly how much lower viscosity oils improve fuel economy, some estimates say that 0w-20 or 5w-20 will give a one to two percent increase in mpg over the next grade.


Is oil designed for more gas mileage worth the extra money?

With 2023 right around the corner, it’s hard to find a popular brand of oil that doesn’t offer an “advanced fuel economy” blend but are they worth paying more for? Or is oil that claims to improve gas mileage just another marketing hoax?

In order to answer the question, I did a quick Google search for “fuel economy oil” to see how much the stuff was selling for today. What I found out during this research was that pretty much all full-synthetic oils are now using “fuel economy” on their label and buying five quarts of Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy 0w-20 on Amazon is cheaper than buying five quarts of regular synthetic oil.

With viscosity being the most important factor in whether your engine oil increases gas mileage, I decided to look at the price of 10w-30 and it was also around $30 on Amazon while also claiming “advanced fuel economy”.


Conclusion- Engine Oil is one of many methods to increase gas mileage

In concluding, I can say that changing your engine oil is one method to improve fuel economy and should be used in conjunction with others. Drivers should not neglect things like tire pressure, store rewards and free apps that give cash back rewards while also shopping around for the best price on gas.

Unless you plan on making the jump to a fully-electric vehicle in 2023, it’s likely you’re going to continue looking for ways to make every drop of fuel go further.




If you purchase through my website, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. All posts are well researched and meant to find you better tools at a cheaper price. 

By John Green

I’m John Green. I’m a 33 year old auto technician from Upstate New York. I have 18 years of experience as an automotive light duty and heavy duty truck mechanic. Cars, trucks and anything with moving parts are my passion in my professional life.

Aside from my life as a technician, I am also a seasoned investor and consider myself very financially literate. I use this other passion combined with my passion for cars, trucks and tools to look for ways to save money for my technician friends.

Raising my three girls and teaching them the proper way of life is my personal passion in life. If you want to know more, just ask! I’m on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well!