What type of oil is best for your car’s engine?
It’s important to keep a healthy level of oil in your car’s engine. Otherwise, you risk damage, breakdown, and unexpected costs. Read on and find out what kind of oil is the right variety for your vehicle.
What type of oil does my car need?
The best engine oil for your car will be listed in its handbook. It’s also likely that your car’s manufacturer will let you search on their website to find the right oil based on the vehicle’s make and model. If push comes to shove, you’ll be able to find out the right engine oil specification from a garage or parts dealer.
It’s not just what vehicle you drive that helps determine what oil you need; its age, condition, and even the time of year can play a role. Because of this, it’s important to do your homework and make sure you’re using the right oil to protect your engine. Understanding the various specifications and oil viscosity can help.
What does motor oil viscosity mean?
When we talk about an engine oil’s viscosity, we mean its thickness and how it performs at higher or lower temperatures. Lower viscosity grades usually mean a thinner, more fluid oil. There are two kinds of viscosity grade; monograde and multigrade.
Older vehicles mostly use monograde oil. Monograde oil designed for summer driving is denoted as SAE, with a number according to its grade. Oil designed for the colder months has a W (for winter) after the grade number. For example, SAE 40 and SAE 15W are both monograde oils, for summer and winter respectively.
Newer vehicles use multigrade oil, which works all year round. Its grade is given as two numbers on either side of a W. The first number shows its low-temperature viscosity, the second number shows its performance at higher temperatures. 5W30, 10W40, and 20W50 are some examples of multigrade oil viscosity ratings.
In both cases, higher viscosity ratings are better for sealing and protecting your car’s moving parts. Lower ratings are better for keeping the engine cool and cutting down on the friction between parts.
What engine oil specifications are there?
There are so many different types of engines out there that car manufacturers and oil companies collaborate to set performance specifications for engine oils. International standards include the:
• European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA)
• American Petroleum Institute (API)
• Japanese Automotive Standards Organization (JATO)
• International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC)
Car manufacturers often set their own engine oil specifications, developed to help their models of cars perform better for longer. Your car’s handbook will usually list this specification, along with an industry one which you can also use in an emergency or for a quick top-up.
Generally speaking, it’s usually best to stick to the oil specification for your individual vehicle.
What does car oil do?
Car oil keeps the internal moving parts of your engine lubricated. It also helps evenly distribute heat to keep the engine as cool as possible, as well as cleaning it and protecting it from decay over time. As you can see, it’s an important element. Regularly topping up your oil will ensure a longer life for your engine and your vehicle.
When should I add oil to my car?
For most vehicles, you should check your oil every two weeks to see if it needs to be topped up. This should usually be done for you as part of an interim car service. It’s also recommended to change the oil in your car entirely every 12 months, which should happen during a full or major service.
So how do you know when your car needs oil? Thankfully it’s easy, you just need to follow a few simple steps:
- Make sure your engine is cool, wait 5-10 minutes after driving before looking under the hood
- Take your dipstick, this should be stored beneath the hood, and wipe it clean
- Push the dipstick back into its casing, then remove it again to see the current oil level
- If the oil is between the minimum and maximum range on the stick, you’re fine
- If the oil level is below halfway, use a funnel to top up the oil with your chosen specification
- Wait two minutes after topping up before cleaning the dipstick and checking the oil level again
Be sure to top up your oil a little bit at a time. Having too much oil in the engine can be as harmful as not having enough. There’s roughly a litre of difference between the minimum and maximum range on the dipstick, so you’ve got plenty of room to take it slow.
Do I have to check the oil in my car?
A lot of people think that advancing technology means routine maintenance like checking engine oil is a thing of the past. This might be the case with electric vehicles, which have fewer moving parts than traditional cars. However, if you still drive a petrol or diesel car, it’s actually more important than ever to keep an eye on oil levels.
Today’s cars have longer intervals between services, meaning more time for the oil to run low. Some synthetic oils are thinner than older types. Parts like turbo chargers and sumps with less capacity also do their bit to help cars churn through engine oil.
Those smaller sumps can be particularly troublesome. Oil has less time to cool so it breaks down quicker. It’s a good idea to check your oil every two weeks, as well as before a long trip.
Expert advice to keep your car in peak condition
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