How To Pick the Right Motor Oil for A Car?

Undoubtedly, no one wants to encounter issues with their car in the middle of the road. For this reason, it's best to ensure you are up to date with its routine maintenance. One such regular maintenance is an oil replacement. It would be best to have it changed as often as necessary, depending on your manufacturer's recommendation. Changing it when due can lead to engine failures, poor performance, etc.

When it's time to change your motor oil, it is advisable to choose the right one. However, many motorists run into issues, as you can use many types of oils. It's worth noting that only some are ideal for certain car make, model and engine. Keep reading to learn some factors to consider choosing a suitable oil for your car.

8 Main Factors To Pick A Suitable Motor Oil

If you need clarification about which oil to use, we have compiled this list of 8 factors to consider. With this list, you will know their differences and which to use.

Car Manufacturer Specifications

Before you start searching for a suitable oil to use on your vehicle, the first thing you want to do is check what the maker recommends. Refer to your user manual to see what is best suited for your model. Different models have different requirements for oil, and switching it up can lead to various issues later. So, to avoid all these little headaches, it's best to be specific about the oil you use on your vehicle.

In your user manual is the type of oil you can use in your vehicle. Based on this recommendation, you can keep your car in good condition for longer. Note that your manufacturer may recommend using different oil types based on several factors such as climate, different styles, etc.

For example, if you have a high-performance engine, you need a specially formulated oil to keep up with the performance. The efficiency of your vehicle will reduce when you keep using the oil after it's due for a change or you use the wrong oil. The bottom line is to adhere to your car manufacturer's recommendations to keep it in excellent working condition.

Driving Environment

Believe it or not, your driving environment significantly impacts your oil. Notably, the impact of the climate on the type of oil you use matters a lot. Suppose you live in a subtropical, typically hot and humid environment such as Dubai. In that case, your car manufacturer will often recommend you use an oil with a thicker consistency. The extra thickness will help ensure your vehicle remains in optimal function; even when the temperature is high, the oil won't burn off quickly, thus losing its lubricating property.

Similarly, if you live in a boreal climate with long, cold winters, your car manufacturer will likely recommend you use an oil with a lighter consistency. The oil often has additives such as antifreeze to keep it from freezing. As such, the oil can keep your vehicle functioning efficiently even when freezing temperatures are. On your vehicle user manual, you will find something like SAE 5W-30 or something similar. This oil code tells you which type of oil to use on your particular model in certain climates.

Aside from the climate, the road's condition influences your choice of oil. For example, if you often drive on an unpaved road, the dust may mix with the oil, reducing its efficiency if you don't have the oil changed frequently. Consider upgrading it to suit the environment you drive in often. So, knowing the climate and the road condition you drive are vital to choosing a suitable lubricant for your vehicle's engine.

Driving Style

Another thing to take into consideration is your driving style. Different motorists have different driving types to suit their needs. Some motorists drive short distances around the cities, while others drive longer distances on the highway. A motorist that often drives short distances requires a different type of oil than one that takes longer. This is because the longer you ride, the more the oil degrades. Having the oil completely degrade en route can cause the engine to overheat or be damaged.

Similarly, short distances, such as city driving, can be tough on the engine. Stopping and starting the engine can often strain the oil. And if the grade of the oil is not built to handle the stress, it's easy for it to affect the performance of your engine. City driving can also cause the oil to pick up dirt which can cause it to underperform. Also, if you like to travel at high speed, it means there will be a lot more moving parts in the engine, which need to be well lubricated; otherwise, it can quickly overheat and cause damage to your engine.

Discussing your driving style with your mechanic when you go for an oil replacement service is recommended. Based on this information, the mechanic will conduct a series of tests on your vehicle, such as checking how your driving style affects the engine. Based on this test, your mechanic will suggest whether high-performing or synthetic oil is best for your rid.

Types of engine oil

Age of Your Vehicle

As your vehicle ages, its maintenance needs tend to change. As such, you should change your routine maintenance to suit its needs. The mileage on your vehicle can influence its oil's efficiency. A thicker consistency oil with some additives is often ideal for your car if it has a few hundred miles on its odometer. But a newer vehicle requires a lighter consistency oil.

If you are wondering why the oil requirement for your vehicle changes with the age or distance covered by the vehicle, the answer is simple, it's because of wear and tear to the engine. To keep your car performing optimally, you must maintain its engine well-lubricated. Sadly, using the same synthetic oil as you did when your vehicle was new might not cut it.

In some cases, you might even hear noises from your engine or notice oil leaks. If you see these issues in your vehicle, the engine is likely developing a fault, or the oil you use does not favour the engine. The best action here is to take your vehicle for a full inspection. Often, the mechanic recommends an oil change with the most suited one for your car.

Types of Engine Oil

When you want to buy oil for your vehicle, you will quickly realize many types are available. The reason for this is that different engines have different requirements. But there are two main categories where they fall into mineral and synthetic. These two categories have their fair share of pros and cons, and knowing the difference will help you pick the most suitable for your vehicle.

The mineral type, for instance, offers excellent lubrication and is reasonably priced. But its downside is that mineral oil is highly likely to contain impurities that can cause sludge build-up, and you must replace it often. On the other hand, synthetic oil has excellent thermal and chemical stability. Also, it offers outstanding engine protection. But on the downside, it has low solubility and is quite expensive.

Ideally, the oil base is about 80 to 90% of the oil in your vehicle. The remaining 10 to 20% is additive, which helps to enhance its performance. On the packaging of the oil, the type of oil will be boldly written. So you don't have to worry about identifying the type of oil. The main thing is to know which type is best for your make and model.

Viscosity Grade

The viscosity grade or thickness of the oil is another vital factor to consider when making a suitable choice. It's essential to choose the correct viscosity based on your engine requirement. If you use one with a consistency too light for your vehicle, it will degrade too quickly, causing your engine to overheat. Similarly, if you choose one that is too thick for your car, it will not lubricate the machine well enough, causing it to overheat. Whatever the case, you should always use the right consistency.

On most oil, the consistency of the oil is expressed with a code. Typically you see something like 5W-20. In this example, the 5 means the cold viscosity of the oil, while the 20 is the hot viscosity when the engine is running. So, when you check our vehicle's manual, you should see the oil weight requirement from the manufacturer. Only use what the manufacturers recommend, as they know what is best for the engine.

Note that oil weight has been getting increasingly lighter over the years. As such, this oil can keep the engine lubricated tighter, and the MPG targets best. While the 5W-20 and 5W-30 are the most popular oil in the market, note that lighter ones go as low as 0W-20.

Oil Standards

When making a choice, the oil standard is another factor to consider. On the label of every oil, there is a standard indicated on it. Acronyms indicate the oil standard, which can be written like ILSAC, ACEA, API, etc. Each acronym means different things, but it indicates that the products meet the standard requirement for a set group of vehicles.

The API's service symbols 'Donut' and 'Starburst', an American standard, are the most popular. Similarly, ILSAC and ACEA standards are common with Japanese automakers. At the same time, the ACEA is certified by most European automakers. These standards exist for a reason, so it's best to take advantage of them while choosing.

As such, whether you use a diesel or gasoline vehicle, note the oil's grade. Regarding the grade of the oil, there are two main types often seen in oil on the market: SP and SN. Often SN oils are used on older vehicles, while SP is used on more modern cars. But more than these criteria are needed; always go with what your manufacturer suggests is best for your vehicle's engine.

Oil Additives

Finally, consider the type of additives added to the oil when making a choice. Most modern engines require certain additives in them to meet specific demands. For example, adding certain polymers to the oil increases its high-temperature performance. Some oil manufacturers add molybdenum rather than sulfur to decrease wear.

There are so many types of additives that can be added to the oil; it all depends on the manufacturer of the oil. Note that not all vehicles support certain additives. It's best to note what additive is added to the oil you are getting. Then based on your manufacturer's recommendation, you can decide if the oil is suitable.

Generally, the additive in the oil is there to help improve its performance. Different cars require different additives to keep them functioning at optimal levels. It's best to follow whatever recommendation from your manufacturer.

Closing Thoughts

Understanding the suitable oil for your vehicle is challenging, considering many factors influence your choice. But if you believe these eight factors explained in this article, you can save yourself a lot of headaches. And most importantly, always go with the recommendation of your vehicle manufacturer. Remember, no one knows your vehicle more than its maker. So, based on what you find in the manual, you should shop for that specific oil.

Several oil manufacturers often produce the same oil suitable for your auto with one or two more additives to improve engine efficiency. Similarly, always follow your manufacturer's recommendation, and avoid what they disapprove of. You can always visit their website if you need help finding what your manufacturer recommends. Also, your mechanic can assist you with finding a suitable oil for your vehicle. So, always bring your car for regular maintenance when due.

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