Engine Oil 101

Engine oil used to be a lot simpler. The local auto parts store typically carried a few major brands, and that was about it. As engines have become more complex, however, engine oil has diversified to keep up. The result is that there are many, many brands and types on the market today.  Fortunately, there are automotive industry standards that explain the salient characteristics of all of them so you can find what is best for your car.

Viscosity ratings

On the front of a typical oil container you’ll see the specified “viscosity rating”. Viscosity can be roughly thought of as the oil’s “thickness.” A few common viscosities you will find include 0W-20, 5W-30, 10W-40, and 20W-50, though there are many more. These are multigrade oils, containing additives to tailor their viscosities to various engines’ requirements and ambient operating temperatures.

Which oil is best for your car

Selecting the right engine oil isn’t straightforward. For one thing, there are two general types; standard oils and synthetic oils. Synthetic engine oils have been available for decades but are just being considered mainstream today. As the name suggests, they’re derived from chemical compounds other than those present in crude oil. The folks at www.zeiglerchryslerdodge.com explain that more expensive synthetics offer improved lubrication at all temperatures, are capable of long life and contain additives to condition engine seals.

Engine Oil

So , what oil is best?  The first thing to do is consult your owner’s manual. Some manufacturers outline very specific blends, brands and viscosities, especially on their newer models. The designated oils may have specific additives or characteristics that your car’s engine needs for optimal economy and performance. If you’re ever in doubt, ask an authorized dealer or an ASE-certified technician who has experience with your car model.

How often your engine oil should be checked and changed

By all means follow your car manufacturer’s recommendation for oil change intervals.  If you elect to do it more often, say every 3000 miles instead of every 5000 miles, you may be doing your engine a big favor.

How to do it

For most cars, it’s ideal to check the oil with the engine cold and not running (there are a few exceptions, so consult your owner’s manual), while parked on a level surface. If you’re not sure where your engine’s dipstick resides, consult the manual.

Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag or towel. Replace it, then pull it out again, holding it horizontally. You should see oil between the two lines or holes in the dipstick; when it’s in that range, your level is fine. If it’s at or below the lower mark, add a quart and remember to check the level again soon.

Whether you change your own engine oil yourself or have it done for you, just be sure you do it. As the oil’s additives break down and contaminants enter the engine, oil’s effectiveness is seriously compromised.

Oil for thought

Consider oil’s role in your engine’s well-being. There’s far more to engine oil than we’re able to cover here, but with this look at the fundamentals, you can begin to understand engine oil and make the right choices for your vehicle.

Jyotsna Ramani

Jyotsna Ramani is a passionate writer and an avid globetrotter. She had a knack for writing since her early years, though that was mostly letters to her penpals and jotting her thoughts down in her "Dear Diary". Over the years, she realized how her hobby could turn into a full time career and she started writing web content, books and pieces for local magazines. There has been no looking back ever since.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *