Can I Use Diesel Oil in My Gas Engine?

You can use diesel oil in a gas engine provided the diesel oil meets the appropriate specifications and viscosity requirements.

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by John Baker
April 14, 2022

Yes, you can use diesel oil in a gas engine, provided the diesel oil meets the appropriate specifications and viscosity requirements of your engine.

For example, if your gas engine calls for a 5W-30 motor oil that meets the API SN PLUS specification, you can safely use a diesel oil of the correct viscosity that meets the API SN PLUS spec.

For the typical gasoline application, however, a diesel oil isn’t required and the more appropriate choice is a quality gasoline motor oil for both performance and value. Let’s look more closely at the diesel oil vs. gas oil debate.

Diesel Oil vs. Gas Oil: Are Diesel Oils “Tougher”?

It’s common for some owners of modified gasoline-powered vehicles to favor diesel oils over their gasoline counterparts.

Many assume diesel oils are more durable and more capable of withstanding the increased heat of a powerful, turbocharged engine.

Others lean toward higher-viscosity oils to protect against wear.

Some want to run a 15W-40 oil in their gas engine, and it’s often easier to find a 15W-40 or similar viscosity of diesel oil than a gasoline motor oil. Others favor the increased detergency of diesel oils.

While you can use diesel oil in a gas engine provided it meets the appropriate specifications and viscosity requirements, there’s far more to the topic than that, as I learned after talking to Mark Nyholm, AMSOIL Staff Product Development Engineer, Mechanical R&D Manager.

Can I Safely Use Diesel Oil In Gas Engines?

Nyholm: It depends on the specifications the diesel oil carries and the recommendation of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

The American Petroleum Institute (API) publishes its “C” category of specifications for diesel oil (currently CK-4) and its “S” category for gasoline motor oil (currently SP).

Though they’re designed for diesel applications, they can be used in gasoline applications for those drivers who want to use one oil in all applications.

If the diesel oil carries both specs, feel assured the oil is safe to use in diesel and gas applications. If the diesel oil does not carry the “S” category, I strongly recommend against using it in gasoline applications.

Check the back label for the specs for which the oil is recommended. You can see an example below using AMSOIL Signature Series Max-Duty Synthetic Diesel Oil. As shown, it’s recommended for the API CK-4 diesel spec and the API SN gasoline spec.

Why Do Some Motorists Favor Diesel Oil Over Gasoline Motor Oils?

Nyholm: There are many reasons people choose the oil they use.

Since oil is not top-of-mind with many motorists, it’s typical for people to purchase based on viscosity alone.

Many gasoline engines today call for 5W-30, with more and more requiring 5W-20, meaning those viscosities are typically what’s readily available. So, if you’re looking for a 5W-40 or 15W-40 for your gas engine, it’s often easiest to find that viscosity in the diesel engine oil aisle.

Others use diesel oil under the assumption it’s a more “heavy-duty” product and must be better than gasoline motor oils.

They may have been told diesel oil is formulated with special components not available in gasoline motor oils, such as more robust detergency additives to handle the soot inherent to diesel engines. In their minds, diesel oils are analogous to better protection.

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Do Most Gasoline Engines Need The Additives In Most Diesel Oils?

Nyholm: Diesel and gasoline oils are formulated with a variety of additives that improve wear protection, corrosion protection, resistance to foaming, viscosity retention and more. Whether the application is gasoline-powered or diesel-powered, many of the same additives are used based on what we are asking them to do in the formulation.

There are additives designed to manage the byproducts of combustion, and some of those byproducts change depending on whether you’re burning gasoline or diesel.

If you’re running a gasoline engine, it’s best to use an oil that contains the correct additives to handle the byproducts of gasoline combustion. The same holds if you’re operating a diesel engine.

When Should Someone Use Diesel Oil In Their Gas Engine?

Nyholm: While some enthusiasts believe using diesel oil can be beneficial in heavily modified gasoline engines, we have them covered with premium synthetic motor oils that are specially engineered for these applications, including Z-ROD® Synthetic Motor Oil and DOMINATOR® Synthetic Racing Oil.

The only time diesel oil should be favored over gasoline motor oil is when you’re dealing with a mixed fleet. Examples of mixed fleets include someone with a diesel-powered RV with a gas-powered generator onboard who wants one oil for both engines, or a contractor with a gasoline-powered pickup and diesel-powered equipment. A diesel oil that meets all the appropriate specifications and viscosity requirements would likely be your best bet.

AMSOIL formulates a complete line of gasoline and diesel oils for nearly anything you have. They’re dialed in to deliver outstanding protection for their intended applications. Consult the AMSOIL product guides for recommendations for your vehicle.

by John Baker

AMSOIL Technical Writer and avid avid DIYer with 12 years in the synthetic lubricants industry, who enjoys making technical topics in the automotive, powersports and industrial markets easy to understand.

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