A reader asks: I just bought a 2011 Yamaha Apex LTX snowmobile with the 998cc 4-stroke engine. The manual suggests using a 0W-30 motor oil meeting API SG (or higher) and JASO MA. All I can find locally is a NAPA Synthetic 5W-30. This is basically a car engine oil. Is it OK to use a car oil in a snowmobile engine?
Our answer: No, a car motor oil is not suitable for your Yamaha snowmobile. While an automotive oil like this may work in a pinch, it’s not the best option for regular snowmobile engine duty. It would be very wise to use a motor oil that is formulated for power sports use. Here are the reasons.
Yamaha suggests that a motor oil meet the “JASO MA” specification. This is a Japanese motorcycle oil spec that has wet-clutch performance requirements. Motor oils meeting JASO MA are different from automotive motor oils in one specific area. Automotive motor oils contain friction modifiers to improve fuel mileage and combat wear. These friction modifiers can glaze and ruin motorcycle wet-clutch plates. Therefore, motorcycle/ATV motor oils do not contain friction modifiers.
Do Friction Modifiers Matter In Snowmobile Engines? Yes!
There is a belief by some that Yamaha forbids the use of friction modifers in the motor oil for their snowmobile engines. We didn’t think so, but learned otherwise the day after this post was first published. Most Yamaha snowmobile engines do actually employ a wet-clutch in the starter system. The friction modifiers in automotive motor can cause slippage and wear on the starter clutch. So using the Mobil 1 meant for your truck is not good for your Yamaha snowmobile!
There is another good reason that JASO MA might be suggested. This being that a power sports-specific motor oil will have higher levels of zinc and phosphorus than a modern automotive motor oil. Zinc and phosphorus are important anti-wear additives. Therefore, suggesting a JASO MA oil will ensure that the consumer uses a motor oil that offers sufficiently robust anti-wear properties.
A Suitable Engine Oil For Yamaha 4-Stroke Oil Snowmobiles
Our best all-round option for 4-stroke snowmobiles is AMSOIL Formula 4-Stroke Power Sports Synthetic 0W-40. Why a 0W-40? Yamaha themselves suggest synthetic 0W-40 as an option for most all their 4-stroke models.
Here are the features that make AMSOIL Formula 4-Stroke 0W-40 such a strong option for Yamaha snowmobiles.
- Anti-rust and corrosion additives not found in car motor oil
- Flows down to -60°F for strong cold-start protection
- Maintains film strength under extreme heat and heavy loads
- Fights oil consumption
- Offers elite wear protection
- Wet-clutch-starter compatible
- Meets API SL/CF, SJ, SH, SG and JASO MA/MA2 specifications
Questions? Feel free to contact us using the form on this page.