What Type of Motor Oil Should I Use in my Car?

March 25th, 2013 by

Oil ChangeMotor Oil – the life force of your automobile. Most drivers know that, without it, their car would take a quick downhill tumble into catastrophic trouble. Beyond that though, many drivers are oblivious.

For instance, here are some of the most common questions surrounding oil:

  • •   There are so many different types of oil at the store. What kind should I use?
  • •   How often should I be changing my oil?
  • •   Should I get synthetic or the real stuff?

We’ll answer all of these and a little bit more, hopefully clearing up a little of the confusion surrounding the world of motor oil.

Look for Most Answers in Your Vehicle’s Manual

Whenever I have a question about my car, the first thing that I do is look in its manual. This is the place to find most of the important information about your vehicle, including the type of oil your car needs.

What does your oil do exactly, though? Your engine is comprised of hundreds of moving parts, and the friction between these parts creates lots of heat. For example, rub your hands together quickly and you’ll feel them getting warmer. Now imagine doing this at the speed at which your engine operates. That’s a lot of heat!

Your oil acts as a lubricant and a coolant between moving parts, reducing the amount of heat and friction. Since these gaps are different sizes in different engines, its important you have the right kind of oil. Because different oils are different viscosities, the wrong kind can cause damage.

Though you may hear differently, synthetics are as good if not better than conventional motor oil. Some synthetics are even designed to last longer. Oh, and the ‘W’ tacked onto motor oil numbers? It simply means “winter,” meaning its designed to be able to tackle lower temperatures.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Your vehicle manual will also list your service schedule. This is a list of when you need to get different vehicle systems maintained. You’ll find information about when you need to get your coolant flushed, your tires rotated, and of course, your oil changed.

The incorrect idea that you need to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles gets tossed around a lot. While this may have been true in the past, thanks to advancements in vehicle technology, your car can go a lot longer between oil changes. On average, cars can go between 5,000 and 7,500 miles. Some vehicle can even go 10,000! Don’t guess, though; always check your manual.

Why is it important to get your oil changed? Your oil has special detergents in it that soak up gunk and other foreign particles in your engine, preventing them from doing corrosive damage. Eventually, the oil becomes sludgy and needs to be changed.