Choosing the right motor oil is one of the most important decisions you can make as a car or truck owner. An automobile is only as good as its engine and an engine is only as good as the oil running through it. With an abundance of car and truck engine oil options on the market, how do you know which one is right for your particular vehicle and unique driving style? In this month’s blog, we take a closer look at the four major types of motor oil, along with deciding on which one to choose.
Motor Oil Basics
Oil is the lifeblood of any vehicle. It lubricates and cools vital engine components, allowing the engine to run smooth and efficiently, maximizing lifespan, performance and gas mileage. Routine oil changes are the single most important aspect in maintaining the health and longevity of any engine. It is essential to use the correct motor oil specified in each individual car or truck’s owner’s manual. Most automobile manufacturer’s will recommend two different oil types, one for normal operating conditions and one for cold weather environments.
Determination of a motor oil’s viscosity rating is based on its resistance to flow at higher and lower temperatures. Each vehicle make and model requires a specific viscosity rated motor oil based on its own individual performance and operating characteristics. For example, 5W-30 is the oil viscosity rating most commonly found in cars and trucks on the road today.
Low Temperature Viscosity
- The first number in a motor oil’s viscosity rating indicates its low temperature viscosity grade. For instance, the “5W” in the rating “5W-30” specifies the oil’s ability to flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, or -17.8 degree Celsius. The lower the grade, the less the oil will thicken in colder temperatures. Engines that operate in colder environments would typically do better with a lower viscosity grade. The “W” in the viscosity rating stands for “winter”.
High Temperature Viscosity
- The second number is an oil’s viscosity rating signifies its high temperature viscosity grade. For example, the “30” in the rating “5W-30” denotes a motor oil’s level of flow at 212-degrees Fahrenheit, or 100-degrees Celsius. The higher the grade, the more resistant the oil is to thinning at higher temperatures.
Four Most Common Types of Motor Oil
There are four common types of motor oils used in today’s cars and trucks: Conventional, Synthetic, Blended and High Mileage. Each type of engine oil offers its own set of strengths based on price, performance and practicality.
- Also called standard motor oil is mineral-based and provides excellent, lubricant, cooling, and protection characteristics. Conventional oil is ideal for low-mile vehicles that are well-maintained and operated mainly on highways in relatively dust-free environments. The main advantage of conventional motor oil is its lower cost of operation and overall value.
- Synthetic oil incorporates advanced chemical refinement technology that delivers increased performance, lubrication and protection characteristics. Many of today’s luxury, high performance and hi-tech vehicles specifically require synthetic oil. While synthetic motor oil provides more quality, it also tends to cost roughly three times the price of conventional oil. Synthetic motor oil is a great choice for drivers who tend to drive in dusty environments. Also for drivers that do a lot of stop-and-go driving. And lastly, for those drivers that go on very short trips, as well as engage in regular towing activity.
- As the name suggests, blend motor oil is essentially premium-grade conventional oil and also synthetic oil. Blended oil offers a nice combination of value associated with conventional oil, along with the superior quality synonymous with synthetic oil. Blended motor oil offers better performance during high temperature, high engine workloads than conventional oil. Modern SUVs and trucks tend to use blended oils due to their combination of price and performance.
- High mileage motor oil is highly recommended for any vehicle with more that 75,000-miles on the odometer. The design of high mileage oil is specifically to minimize wear-and-tear and increase longevity and performance in older automobiles. Formulated with seal conditioner, high mileage oil protects and rejuvenates aging seals in older engines. High mileage motor oil is also contains a ton of special fuel additives that help clean build-up and reduce wear in vital engine components.
Looking around town, you will find there are still a lot of older vehicles on the road today. More often than not, these automobiles were service history includes regular oil changes. As well, it’s very probable that the vehicle received the correct type and weight of oil as per the manufacturers recommendations.
If you aren’t sure which motor oil to use in your vehicle, bring it on down to us at Carolina Mobile Auto. We’re conveniently located in Winston-Salem NC right off the Interstate 40 near South Stratford Road. Our team of ASE certified auto technicians will quickly and reliably recommend a motor oil based on your vehicle’s specific needs as well as your own unique driving style.