Your Guide to Different Types of Motor Oil for Cars
July 13th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
What type of engine oil to use – that is a very common question! With a dizzying amount of motor oil options on the market, having to choose the right oil for your car might seem overwhelming.
We’re going to use this space to cut through the technical jargon and highlight the key points you need to know. By the end of this blog-post, you will have a much clearer idea of what is the best motor oil for your car.
The main function of motor oil is to lubricate your engine. The oil protects the moving parts of your engine by reducing friction, cooling and cleaning the engine, and also preventing corrosion.
Engine oil differences
Motor oils today are a blend of base oils that have been enhanced with chemicals, additives, detergents, and dispersants. Polymers are used in multi-grade oils to ensure the oil has proper viscosity or thickness so that it can adapt to temperature extremes. Thin oils have lower viscosity and are designed for driving in cold temperatures, while thicker oils have a higher viscosity. We will touch on this in more detail below.
Types of motor oil
Motor oil can be broken down into four categories: synthetic oil, synthetic blends, high mileage oil, and conventional oil.
Synthetic motor oil is chemically engineered to create higher performing oil purer than conventional oil and works better in high and low temperature extremes.
Synthetic Blend Motor Oil
Synthetic blend motor oil is the popular choice with drivers of pickup trucks and SUVs because it provides additional protection for cars carrying heavier loads. Composed of a combination of synthetic and organic oil, synthetic blend motor oil also helps protect cars from oxidation, cold temperatures, and tends to provide higher gas mileage. Finally, it costs significantly less than synthetic oil!
According to a survey by the Automotive Oil Change Association, over 50 percent of car owners choose synthetics or synthetic blends when they get their oil changed.
High mileage oil
This type of motor oil, designed for newer cars, is enhanced with unique additives to minimize oil burn-off and oil leaks.
Conventional motor oil is available in a broad range of viscosity grades and quality levels. It’s appropriate for cars with simple engine designs and for drivers with conservative driving styles.
There are not only many types of motor oil, but there are also different viscosity grades.
Viscosity Grade Designations
Manufacturers of motor oil use the Society of Automotive Engineers’ rating system to classify oil by viscosity. The ratings are helpful and will help you determine what type of engine oil to use.
Viscosity measures a fluid’s resistance to flow. Thin fluids like water have a low viscosity, while thick fluids like honey have a high viscosity.
On a can of motor oil, viscosity is indicated with multiple numbers and letters, like this: “XW-XX.”
The “W” stands for winter and the number before the “W” indicates how well the oil flows at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a cold climate, you would want that number to be low – such as an 0W or 5W viscosity – because that indicates the oil is less likely to thicken when the air turns cold in winter.
If you live in the hot desert, your car would require a higher number – such as a 10W-30 – to keep the oil from becoming too thin.
The number after the “W” denotes the oil’s viscosity at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). This number speaks to the oil’s ability to resist thinning at high temps. For example, 10W-30 oil will thin out at higher temps faster than 10W-40 will.
What type of engine oil to use
Motor oil also changes in viscosity as it is heated or cooled. If you live in a cold climate, then you will want to get thin motor oil, so it is able to flow more easily to the moving parts in your engine. If your oil is too thick, it is harder to start your engine, and that can also reduce your gas mileage.
What is the best motor oil?
Now that you know a little more about engine oil differences, what is the best motor oil? It depends. There is not one brand of oil that is the best for all drivers and all driving situations. The best oil for you depends on your driving style, the region in which you live, the type of car you drive, and whether you tend to carry a light or heavy load.
Motor Day reviewed dozens of synthetic oils and put together a top 5 list of the top-rated synthetic oils.
- Top Pick: Valvoline SynPower 0W-20 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
- Runner Up Pick: Mobil 1 120760 Synthetic Motor Oil 0W-40
- Best Budget Pick: AmazonBasics Full Synthetic Motor Oil
- Best Synthetic Blend Oil: Shell Rotella T5 Synthetic Blend Diesel Motor Oil 15W-40
- Best Full Synthetic Oil: Castrol 03084 EDGE 5W-30 Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil
As we’ve seen, there are many types of motor oil on the market. If you’re not sure what is the best motor oil for your car, not to worry. Simply go ahead and check your vehicle owner’s manual. It will list the appropriate motor oil specification and viscosity grade for your car.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Deer Valley a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing customers in Deer Valley, AZ in addition to Maricopa County neighborhood.
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