As the engine is considered the heart of a vehicle, ultimately the engine oil would be its bloodline. So is it a wise decision that we can add any type of motor oil to the engine? Because all of these look like the same – lubricant and same color. The answer is simply NO.
The engine oil running in the car determines the long-lasting life of a vehicle, the economic cost, and the running speed. It is a mode through which a car’s engine can be maintained for the long term. That’s why it is considered very essential to use the right kind of engine oil in the car.
Besides, to keep your engine maintained, you have to check the quality of your already poured engine oil side by side.
What kind of engine oil should I put in my car is one of the most important and frequent question asked by almost every car’s owner. Finding the right type of oil could be easy, but finding the best quality engine oil for your car should be a challenge for you.
To assist you in this decision, we have summed up some important and relevant information regarding the engine oil, its types, and the one better option to choose from by our readers.
The engine parts while running can cause friction and heat. The components of the engine like a piston in the cylinder touch each other and can cause wear and tear. Engine oil allows the engine’s parts to lubricate by making a thin film and also prevents overheating. It also prevents your car from hosting other life-shortening problems.
When we added up engine oil in our car, the internal engine components work smoothly and operates without interruption. Negligence towards your engine oil could lead to poor performance, engine damage, or even a seized engine. That’s why you must have to put the best quality and right kind of engine oil in your car.
Factors affecting choosing the right kind of engine oil
First of all, before purchasing any kind of engine oil, one must check its authentication that either is registered from the American Petroleum Institute (API) or not. There are two stamps of API certification on the engine oil canister named the API “donut” and the API Certification “starburst”.
The stamp of API “donut” consists of three portions. The upper portion indicates the oil performance level for that specific kind of engine oil. The middle portion indicates the viscosity of the oil based on the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to consider. The lower portion informs about the potential of the oil for conserving energy.
The performance level portion also further illustrates the letter ‘S’ or ‘C’. The ‘S’ stands for service and it uses for gasoline engines while the ‘C’ stands for commercial and uses for diesel engines.
The second stamp starburst confirms the quality of the engine. It indicates that the oil is tested well and meets the criteria set by the institute and will function well. All of these authentications marks/stamps should be must keep under consideration while purchasing any kind of engine oil.
Another most important factor for choosing the best kind of engine oil is its viscosity. Viscosity is simply the resistance of the liquid against flowing.
There are different grading systems of viscosity developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Long before there was only single grade oil that was added to our vehicles. Now, these single-grade motor oils are just used in some simple machines like lawn-mowers.
In the late 1950s, SAE introduced multi-grade engine oils. Most of them were 10W-30. Multi-grade engine oil enables the engine to operate well at both lower and high temperatures. It tends to resist thicken out more at a colder temperature as well as thinning out more at a hot temperature. Thus the optimum viscosity at a specific temperature helps the engine oil in retaining the oil film between the engine parts and prevents them to wear down.
On the multi-grade engine oil canister, viscosity is generally mentioned as “XW-YY”. The figure before ‘W’ indicates the viscosity of the oil at the lower temperature. It rates the oil flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 degrees Celsius). The lower the number here, the less it thickens at the lower temperature. The oil with the grading 5W-30 thickens less in a colder temperature as compared to 10W-30.
Then the letter ‘W’ stands for winter, not for weight as thought by many people. The figures after ‘W’ indicate the viscosity of the oil at the higher temperature and rates the oil flow at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). The greater the number here, the greater it will resist thinning out at a higher temperature. The oil with the grading system 10W-40 thin out slower and perform well at higher temperature as compared to the oil 10W-30.
The engine of each vehicle is manufactured with specific features, so it is recommended by the company to use a specific oil type and grade. So it’s better to consult the manual and check the engine oil grade to use. There are also some fluctuations found in the manual to select the oil grades according to your location’s temperature.
3. The use of the vehicle
The use of your vehicle is another factor in choosing the right type of engine oil for your car. A car that uses for casual traveling needs a different kind of engine oil than the truck whose work is related to carrying heavy loads.
The time interval between the last oil changes and the distance covered by the car also determines the oil type to be used. Generally, for conventional oil, it should be 5000 to 7500 miles or after six months. But if you’re using synthetic oil you can change it at 15000 miles or after six months.
4. Manufacturing of the engine
Every engine is usually designed for a specific kind of engine oil. Long before the engine was manufactured for only conventional engine oil type. Now most companies like BMW and Mercedes-Benz recommend only synthetic engine oil for their cars due to its good performance and more mileage.
It is good to consult your manual for choosing the right kind of engine oil. All of the conditions for choosing the right kind of engine oil like temperatures, viscosity, and the amount of engine oil are mentioned in it according to your car.
In some advanced cars, there is also an engine oil indicator light on the dashboard that tells you about the engine oil type either it is right or wrong.
5. Additives Packages
Oil additives, not always considered as an important factor for choosing the best kind of engine oil for your car. Although it should also be taken into account while adding the engine oil to your car.
These are the chemicals and minerals added by the manufacturers to improve the engine oil efficiency concerning its life and mileage. Some oil additives packages are listed below:
Anti-wear additives: When engine oil breaks down due to temperature or by any other factor, it protects the engine surface to wear down.
Friction modifiers: It helps to lower the friction between the engine parts, thus improve mileage.
Viscosity-index improvers: It helps to improve the resistance against thinning out at higher temperatures.
Detergents: Helps in wash out the deposits and also prevent depositing the rust and corrosion at higher temperatures.
Foam inhibitors: The foamy oil does not perform well due to low lubricating ability than full-liquid oil. The foam inhibitor is another oil additive that scattered the foam in the oil and improves its efficiency.
The quantity of additives agents can vary differently in different kinds of engine oil. For example, in high mileage engine oil, the quantity of anti-wear agents, corrosion inhibitors, and seal conditioners should be high to increase its life for a longer period. Thus it remains for a long time in the high-mileage engine. Generally, it keeps in the range of 5 to 30 percent of a total given quantity of oil.
No doubt, that the oil additives improve the engine oil efficiency, but it must be kept within the optimum range. If its quantity exceeds a normal range, it could be harmful rather than beneficial.
For instance, the higher amount of sulfur compounds can cause the reduction of fuel economy and affect the operation of catalytic converters. The addition of a higher amount of detergents can cause a disturbance in the anti-wear balance. The functionality of catalytic converters can be affected by the addition of too much friction-reducing additive.
Types of engine oil
Approved from API and viscosity rating are the starting factors to consider. After analyzing all above the factors and with the right viscosity in your mind, it’s time to decide the right kind of engine oil that you need to add to your vehicle.
It is up to your need and condition of your car’s engine that which type of oil suits you best and can fulfill the requirement of your car’s engine. Several types of engine oil are present in the market to purchase are given below.
1. Conventional oil
Conventional oil is made of underground refined crude oil. It is also called mineral oil because it got from the refining of crude oil. It is used in bulk at the dealership and most of the owner’s manuals recommend it.
Almost all of the conventional oil companies follow the API and SAE standards but low in additives packages. The conventional oil suits best the owners that believe in frequent oil changes and have low mileage engines.
The old car models mostly before 2000 need only conventional oil. A brand new car needs a break-in period of approximately 5000 to 6000 miles with conventional oil. So it is right to choose conventional oil for the running period for the first 5000 to 6000 miles or for 120 hours.
The conventional oil is budget-friendly as its price is much lower as compared to other oils.
Its tendency of resistance against changes in weather conditions is lower as compared to synthetic oil. When the weather is cold, the conventional oil gets thickens, and when it is hot, it thins down easily.
The conventional oil cannot perform well as a protection barrier for engines in the extreme environment. A component can wear down within an extreme environment condition like in intensely hot or cold conditions.
There should be much contamination in the engine while using conventional oil.
If the car’s manual recommends you use conventional oil, you don’t need to bother about any other expensive oil type such as synthetic oil. The manufacturing of all the engines is specific regarding many factors and the company always recommends the best kind of engine oil according to its composition.
The dealers at the oil store always entrap you by recommending expensive oil such as synthetic oil. But you don’t need to bother him because synthetic oil can cost you three times more expensive than conventional oil.
2. Full Synthetic oil
Synthetic oil as the name is the oil that is made synthetically rather than from crude oil. It is used in high-tech and advanced engines. Some advanced and expensive car companies such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and others now always recommend synthetic oil to use in their cars. It could be harmful to the engine using other than synthetic oil type, where it is recommended.
If synthetic oil meets the claims that are mentioned on the canister, then it is the best engine oil. It has long-lasting performance in all the critical areas, from the viscosity index to protection against engine deposits because of an optimum amount of additive packages present in it.
All of the synthetic oil are multi-grade oil and their claimed viscosity really works well in both conditions. It flows better in a colder temperature and lubricates well even at a hot temperature.
With synthetic oil, you can cover greater mileage than conventional oil. Most of the companies recommend changing it from 20000 km to 24000 km or after 6 months to 1 year. It is not recommended for inexpensive and low mileage cars.
Synthetic oil contains no impurities.
It burns less as compared to other oil types and lasts for a longer period.
It does not break down due to heat and is not affected by viscosity by temperature changes.
It also has resistance to building up sludge and thus engine consumes less oil.
The main side effect of synthetic oil is its price, as it is three times more expensive than conventional oil.
Not every engine is made for synthetic oil like rotary or older engines.
3. Synthetic-blend oil
Synthetic-blend oil also called semi-synthetic oil is a combination of conventional and synthetic oil. Its larger portion consists of premium conventional oil with a dose of synthetic oil. Synthetic-blend oil performs more efficiently in the vehicles that are used to carry heavy loads. That’s why it is used mostly in pick-up loaders and SUVs. It is also used during higher temperatures due to its better protection.
The performance level of synthetic-blend oil falls in between the synthetic and premium conventional oil. It doesn’t break down as easily as the conventional oil and retains its film between the engine parts at a higher temperature also.
New and improved mixed oil prevents the engine from overheating, sludge creation, and wear down. It also has some additives such as detergents and anti-wear agents that help in long-lasting protection of the engine by removing deposits and protecting seals.
You can use the synthetic-blend oil in extreme hot or cold weather conditions occasionally in place of fully synthetic oil. It would be cost-effective for you.
It can also be used while carrying heavy loads.
Costly as compared to conventional oil.
Mixing the oil
People often mix both conventional and synthetic oil themselves to make synthetic-blend oil. They think it could be used as a synthetic-blend oil that performs well as compared to conventional oil solely. They add a fraction of conventional oil in the synthetic oil to increase its quantity, considering it a cost-effective method rather than adding fully synthetic oil solely to the engine.
Mixing synthetic oil with conventional oil can reduce the performance level of synthetic oil. It ruins the specific chemistry of synthetic oil that can cause harmful effects to the engine rather than beneficial. The mixture of both oils doesn’t necessarily work together in proper as people think they would. Mixing these oils will not be of great advantage as the car might fail to run, explode, or even seize up.
Therefore it is not a recommended method. Always purchase an authentic API and SAE standard approved branded synthetic-blend oil. As many parameters should have been followed while making the synthetic-blend motor oil.
4. High-mileage oil
More than 60 percent of vehicles on the road have old engines. The readings on their odometer have exceeded more than 75000 miles. These are called high mileage engines. The performance of a high mileage engine is reduced with time.
This is caused due to engine seal deterioration, brittle gaskets, rings wear, and valves that don’t seal tightly. Due to these problems, there should be oil leakage and premature oil breakdown that can cause an increase in oil consumption and a reduction in engine performance.
To overcome this problem, the oil laboratories and refineries produced an oil called high-mileage engine oil that can be used especially in these high mileage vehicles.
High-mileage oil is made of special base oil in which some special seal conditioning agents and anti-wear oil additives are mixed. It helps to lessen the oil leakage in high-mileage engines. These special seal conditioning agents mixed in the oil helps the internal engine seals to expand and become flexible.
It is specially made for high-mileage engines, whose selection for choosing the right kind of engine oil always creates a headache for the people.
It cannot be used for new model engines. If you use it in an advanced model engine, it could be harmful to it.
Choosing the best kind of engine oil for your car is always remain a myth. But this myth can be solved by taking all the above factors under consideration. We emphasize again that consulting the owner’s manual recommendation is the best option for you. But it is better for your selection that you should know about all the above knowledge.
Before purchasing any oil, do a little research on it. Check out all the parameters that we have mentioned above and take a final decision.
If we summarize the whole story, conventional oil is best for low mileage engines and for those who believe in frequent oil changes. Synthetic oil is considered best for high-tech and advanced model engines. If your work is related to carrying heavy loads or using SUV vehicles then synthetic-blend oil is the best option for you. While the high-mileage engine oil suits best older engines whose odometer reading exceeds 75000 miles.
Also, always keep the oil changes time in your mind concerning the duration and odometer readings, and change it at the right time. Changing the engine oil before the right time would not affect anything except your wallet.