Walking down the engine oil aisle of any auto supply store demonstrates how big the selections have gotten over the years. Knowing which one is the best for your vehicle can leave you stumped. Below are a few healthy tips in being able to make the right decision for your engine and driving conditions.
Why It’s Best to Start By Consulting Your Owner’s Manual
Every new vehicle is sold with an owner’s manual that gives recommendations for the care and maintenance, which includes the type of engine oil to use. Unless you are operating your vehicle under extreme temperature conditions, it’s best to stick with what is recommended without veering off path. The recommendations are made by the maker of the vehicle and take normal driving conditions into account.
Stick to Approved Engine Oils
Beyond brands and flavors, you need to stick with engine oils that carry the star-looking seal that indicates it’s passed the testing by the Society of Automotive Engineers. No matter how low the price is, never use oils without the positive seals or use recycled products. You can unintentionally cause permanent damage to an engine.
What the Label Numbers Mean
Have you ever wondered what the numbers mean on engine oil labels? Is it confusing to choose from 0W30, 5W30, and 10W30? What about 10W40? The climate you live and operate your vehicle in will determine the little changes and upgrades you make to the engine oil chosen. The “W” in the middle stands for the winter season and the number directly before tells you what temperature the oil will stay loose and usable at in degrees Fahrenheit.
The number beyond the “W” is what determines the viscosity, or thickness at upper temperatures. The higher the number, the more the oil is resistant to becoming too thin at high temperatures. It’s critical to get this right for optimal engine lubrication and protection.
What Are Synthetic Oils?
Synthetic oils are ones designed for high-performance engines and vehicles operated under continuous high-stress conditions. Two things make synthetic oil a choice to consider carefully. One is the cost. Quality synthetic engine oil is expensive and can make a simple oil change shockingly high. A Corvette owner tends to expect this expense, but it can be a huge surprise for someone driving a Nissan or Volvo. Secondly, not every engine needs synthetic oil. It can be detrimental for some engines.
Engine Oil Additives
All types of materials can be added to the oil to provide a variety of assistance in maintaining viscosity, add extra lubrication, or keep the engine clean. Beyond getting an oil with additives to assist an aging engine, be careful with choosing oils that contain a ton of additives. Consult the owner’s manual frequently and get the advice of your trusted mechanic.
Your first thought in choosing the right engine oil for your vehicle should be about the type recommended by the company that designed and built the engine. If you no longer have the owner’s manual, call a dealership or try and find a copy of it online. Always consult with a knowledgeable mechanic before making any sweeping changes.