What type of oil is best for my car?
5W20, 5W30, 10W30, full synthetic, synthetic blend, DEXOS, high mileage- do you know which oil your vehicle should have? If not, consult your owners’ manual to find out. If your vehicle is still under factory warranty and you use the incorrect type of oil, you might void the warranty and cost yourself a lot of money.
Oil is needed in your vehicle to lubricate and cool moving parts, keep them clean and help seal the pistons in the cylinders. Without oil, your engine will seize and stop working.
Viscosity means a fluid’s resistance to flow. The number preceding the “W” (winter) is the weight of the oil and the number after the “w” is for viscosity. Example- 10W30 has less viscosity when cold or hot than 20W50 does.
Motor oil thins as it heats and thickens as it cools. The more resistant it is to thinning, the higher the second number, which is good because thicker oil generally seals and lubricates moving parts better.
Always use the oil viscosity that your car owners’ manual recommends. Most reputable automotive service shops will automatically use the manufacturer recommended product. More importantly, change your oil regularly (every 3 months or 3,000 miles) or twice a year if you do very limited driving.
Isn’t all oil the same?
No, it isn’t- read on!
Premium Conventional Oil: 5W20, 5W30 and 10W30 and the top 3 standards in new-car oil, and generally cover almost every light duty vehicle made.
Full Synthetic Oil: Made for higher tech engines like those in luxury Mercedes Benz or Chevy Corvette. These oils have gone through testing and have proven to have superior, longer lasting performance. Using a full synthetic when recommended by the manufacturer, allows you to increase your oil change intervals up to 7,500 miles. You cannot switch back and forth between conventional and synthetic oil. Remember, you still need to periodically check the oil level in between oil changes and add oil if needed. Not all vehicles require synthetic oil, and it is significantly more expensive than conventional or blended products.
Synthetic Blend: A popular choice among drivers of pick up’s and SUV’s, blends of synthetic and organic can provide additional protection for heavier loads and higher temperatures. Generally, they evaporate less and can increase fuel economy, and cost less than a full synthetic oil.
High Mileage Oil: formulated for vehicles with more than 75,000 miles on them. This type of oil is specially made with seal conditioners which help restore their shape and increase their flexibility which may slow any signs of seepage from the seals.
Dexos ®: This product is formulated by General Motors to compliment the advanced engine technology in over 20 different engine sizes in GM vehicles. All 2011 and later models in all GM vehicles except those with Duramax diesel engines use this product for optimum engine performance. To assure you are using an authentic Dexos ® product, make sure the Dexos ® icon appears on the front of the oil package and that there is an 11 digit alphanumeric dexos license number on the back label.
Petroleum type engine oil contains a mixture of several different types of base oil and makes up 70-95% of the oil. Oil additives are used in the remaining 5-30%. This is how the refiners formulate an oil to meet the needs of a car manufacturer. Additionally, additives assist oil in maintaining good lubrication, help to minimize sludge and varnish and any damage caused by their formation. Although you cannot select the additives that are in the oil, it is interesting to read about them.
Viscosity index improvers: reduce the oil’s tendency to thin with increasing temperature
Detergents: these are different from ordinary household cleaners and their main function is to keep engine surfaces clean by reducing the formation of high temperature deposits like rust and corrosion.
Dispersants: these prevent solid particles from forming sludge, varnish and acids by dispersing solid particles and keeping them in solution.
Anti-wear agents: ZDDP (zinc diakyl dithiophosphate) allows the oil to protect metal surfaces
Friction modifiers: Graphite, molybdenum and other compounds are used to reduce engine friction and therefore improve fuel economy.
Pour-point depressants: Oil contains wax particles that can congeal and reduce flow, but these additives can prevent that.
Antioxidants: these are needed to prevent oxidation (and therefore thickening) of the oil which results in better emissions control since engine temperatures are being pushed up.
Foam inhibitors: The crankshaft whipping through the oil in the pan causes foaming. Oil foam is not as effective a lubricant as full-liquid stream, so the inhibitors are used to cause the foam bubbles to collapse.
Rust/corrosion inhibitors: These are added to protect metal parts from acids and moisture.
In conclusion, not all engine oils are created equally. The chemical process of formulating an engine oil is a complex and expensive one. Oil protects the most expensive component in your vehicle, the engine. Maintain your vehicle by changing the oil and filter regularly and by using a quality motor oil that is recommended for your vehicle.
If you have any questions about what type of oil is best for your vehicle please let us know!