What Type of Oil Do You Use in Pressure Washer: Tips & Methods


Pressure washers are powerful tools, indispensable for cleaning a range of surfaces effectively and efficiently. However, like any machine, they require proper care and maintenance to operate at their best. One often-overlooked aspect of pressure washer maintenance is the choice of oil. Oil serves two critical purposes in a pressure washer: lubricating the engine and cooling the built-in pump. Neglecting the oil or using the wrong type can lead to costly damage and reduced performance. In this guide, we’ll explore the types of oil suitable for pressure washers, debunk common misconceptions, provide maintenance tips, and address frequently asked questions.

Types of Oil

When it comes to pressure washers, there are two primary types of oil to consider: engine oil and pump oil. Engine oil lubricates the engine, ensuring smooth operation and preventing excessive wear and tear. On the other hand, pump oil is specifically formulated to withstand the high pressures generated by the pump. Using the correct oil for each component is crucial to maintaining optimal performance and prolonging the lifespan of your pressure washer.

Mineral vs. Synthetic Oil

One common point of confusion is the difference between mineral-based and synthetic oil. Mineral oil is derived from naturally occurring crude oil and may contain impurities. Synthetic oil, on the other hand, is manufactured and undergoes a refining process that removes impurities, resulting in a more uniform product. While synthetic oil generally offers better performance and longer life, both mineral and synthetic oils can be used in pressure washers without issue. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to personal preference and budget.

Oil Viscosity

Oil viscosity, indicated by the numbers on oil jugs (e.g., SAE 5w-30 or SAE 10w-30), is another crucial consideration. The viscosity rating determines the oil’s flow characteristics at different temperatures. For pressure washers, oils with viscosity grades such as SAE 5w-30 or SAE 10w-30 are typically suitable. However, it’s essential to consult your pressure washer’s owner’s manual for precise viscosity requirements, as these can vary depending on the make and model.

Common Misconceptions

One prevalent misconception is that impurities in non-synthetic oil can harm pressure washers. While it’s true that synthetic oil typically has fewer impurities, using mineral-based oil won’t necessarily damage your pressure washer. In fact, many users, like your neighbor Bill, have successfully used non-synthetic oil without any adverse effects. The key is to ensure that you’re using the appropriate oil for your pressure washer and performing regular maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer.

Maintenance Tips

To maintain optimal performance, it’s essential to change the oil regularly in both the engine and pump. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

1. Safety First: Before starting any maintenance, make sure the pressure washer is turned off and the engine is cool.

2. Drain the Oil: Locate the drain plug on the engine and the pump and place a suitable container beneath them to catch the oil. Remove the plugs and allow the oil to drain completely.

3. Replace the Oil Filter (if applicable): If your pressure washer is equipped with an oil filter, now is a good time to replace it.

4. Refill with Fresh Oil: Once the old oil has drained, replace the drain plugs and refill the engine and pump with the appropriate oil. Be sure not to overfill.

5. Check Oil Levels: After refilling, check the oil levels using the dipstick or sight glass. Add more oil if necessary, but avoid overfilling.

6. Dispose of Old Oil Properly: Dispose of the old oil responsibly by taking it to a designated recycling center.


Q1. How often should I change the oil?

A1: Oil should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, typically every 50-100 hours of operation or at the beginning of each season.

Q2. Can I mix synthetic and non-synthetic oil?

A2: While it’s generally not recommended, mixing synthetic and non-synthetic oil won’t necessarily harm your pressure washer. However, for optimal performance, it’s best to use the same type of oil throughout.

Q3. What happens if I use the wrong oil?

A3: Using the wrong oil can lead to poor performance, increased wear and tear on engine components, and potential damage to the pressure washer. Always use the oil recommended by the manufacturer to avoid these issues.


In conclusion, selecting the right oil for your pressure washer is essential for maintaining optimal performance and prolonging its lifespan. By understanding the different types of oil available, debunking common misconceptions, following proper maintenance procedures, and adhering to manufacturer recommendations, you can ensure that your pressure washer continues to serve you well for years to come. Remember, regular maintenance, including oil changes, is key to keeping your pressure washer running smoothly.

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