The Best Type of Oil for Your Wood Chipper

Wood chippers use a lot of oil and it is recommended to change the oil after about 50 hours of operation. So it’s good to have plenty of oil on hand if you intend to use a wood chipper frequently. Good news is you can easily find the right oil at most any hardware or auto store and even Walmart.

A four cycle wood chipper engine can use 5w30, 10w30 and SAE 30 oil. The multi grade oils (5w30 and 10w30) work best for operating a chipper in temperatures below 40° degrees F. SAE 30 oil is great for higher temperatures and is one of the most popular oils for small engines.

Once you know the right grade of oil to use for your wood chipper your on the right track. But still you might come across many different brands and varieties of these oils. Such as synthetic vs non-synthetic or ones with detergents or without. Its easy to get confused when you actually go to buy the right oil.

I want to help make this less confusing and explain what really matters when it comes to small engine oils.

Basic Wood Chipper Guide for Beginners

What Kind of Oil Do You Use In a Wood Chipper?

First of all you might be wondering why are there all these different versions of oil available? Here’s a quick rundown in case your not familar.

Before the 1950’s oil was made in one grade/weight which mean’t you had to switch out your oil before each season. In winter you needed the thinner oils and during the summer you used a thicker oil. Well after the 1950’s companies created these multi grade oils that could be thin at room temperature and thicker as they heated. Each with its own suitable temperature range. This made life more convenient and we still use these oils today. But you can still by straight 30, 40 weight oils but its becoming less common.

Straight Weight or Multi Grade: Which is better for small engines?

While you can use either a straight SAE 30 oil or a multi grade 10w30 for example. The advantage of straight weights is the added protection to the engine. Since the oil is thicker you get better lubrication during operation. This is why many companies recommend SAE 30 oil. It’s also slightly cheaper but can be harder to find.

Most auto shops (AutoZone, O’Reilly’s) carry multi grade oils since that’s what is used in most cars today. So you’re better off finding straight weight oils in a hardware store.

Should You Use Synthetic Oils?

Most companies now are suggesting synthetic oils which last longer and can be more efficient. I would recommend using a synthetic 5w30 or 10w30 oil for your wood chipper. Especially if you use one commercially, as the oil lasts longer.

Synthetic oil is going to be more expensive but is truly better over the long haul. But if you don’t use your wood chipper very often then I wouldn’t worry about using synthetic.

Do Detergents Matter?

Its actually harder to find small engine oils without detergents. Today most lawn mower/wood chipper and other small engine manufacturers and product companies recommend oil with detergents. The detergent helps keep the engine cleaner overtime. These engines typically don’t have oil filters like car engines do.

Engines build up deposits overtime of spent fuel and other grime and the detergents help keep things clean and moving.

One of The Best Brands

One of the cheaper but still quality brands of oil you can use for a wood chipper is Briggs & Stratton. Many brands of lawn mower recommend their products and they have been manufacturing engines since 1904. They make their own small engine oils and the quality

Briggs & Stratton 30W Engine Oil is a suitable oil for using with 4 cycle wood chippers.

As always you should check out the owners manual that came with your wood chipper to see the recommended oil to use.

You can buy a 48 oz bottle of Briggs & Stratton SAE 30 on Amazon here.

How often To Change The Oil?

Most wood chippers have a 4 cycle engines in which the lubrication is in a separate tank from the gasoline. This means replacing the oil should be a part of routine maintenance.

How often you should change the oil depends on how much usage your wood chipper is getting. At the very least once a year is going to be good enough. Even if you run it once every week.

One of the most important oil changes should be done after the first 8 hours of operation. Every new engine has a break-period during the first firing up of the motor. Internally as the cylinders are working for the first time its not unusual for metal shavings to be released and other particles. This is because the engine isn’t fully lubricated.

The first batch of oil does a good job of soaking up these shavings and that is why you don’t want to continue to use it. So most manufactures say to change the oil on a new engine after the first 8 hours.

After that you are good changing the oil after about 25 – 50 hours of operation or annually. Again follow the owners manual to see how often they recommend changing the oil.

How Much Oil Does a Wood Chipper Take?

Each wood chipper can vary on how much oil it requires, but typically they take 16 ounces (1 pint) or about 400 ml of oil. It may require more at first if the manufacture didn’t put any in. As the engine will soak up a little extra at the beginning.

So on average a wood chipper with a separate oil reservoir requires between 16 – 20 oz of oil.

Besides reading the owners manual to see how much oil is recommended. Some oil tanks will have a oil dipstick attached to the cap. Remove the dipstick and read the level of oil using the indicators inscribed into the stick. As the dipstick sinks into the oil and how much it reaches gives you the indication between not enough oil or too much.

Tips for Changing Your Wood Chippers Oil

Warming the engine for a few minutes will help the oil drain faster and more completely.

I would recommend purchasing a flexible extended funnel for filling the oil. As on some wood chipper models the oil tank is hard to reach without a longer funnel. This Basic Oil Funnel With Flexible Extension on Amazon is a great investment.

Recommended Products

These are my recommended products to have for operating and maintaining a wood chipper. Gloves and safety glasses are a must have when using a wood chipper. As they tend to pull in branches quickly and can spit out pieces of wood as well. Gloves will protect your hands from the pull and eye glasses protect from flying debris.

Safety Glasses with Clear Anti Fog Scratch Resistant Wrap-Around Lenses: (Buy on Amazon)

Ironclad General Utility Work Gloves: (Buy on Amazon)

Briggs & Stratton 4 cycle SAE 30 small engine oil: (Buy On Amazon)

Lubricant Funnel with Flexible Extension: (Buy On Amazon)

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