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How to Select the Right Oil for My Vehicle

Choosing the right oil for your vehicle will help improve motor function and can significantly extend the life of your vehicle. There are many considerations when selecting the appropriate motor oil, but the following tips will help guide you through the process.

Vehicle Specs

Every vehicle is different and it is important you have a clear understanding of the requirements of your vehicle before you purchase any product. Vehicle specifications can be found in your car’s user manual and online. Many user manuals provide an entire section on oil changes and recommended oil types.

Oil Viscosity

Motor oil viscosity can vary substantially and certain formulas are better suited for colder and hotter weather conditions. Motor oil becomes thinner as it heats up and thicker as it cools down, which can have a significant effect on the performance output of your motor. Thicker oils are often preferred in cases where a tighter seal is desired as well as increased lubrication for parts.

Grade Designations

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) classifies oil grades by viscosity. If you have ever researched oil types, you have likely seen the product label SAE 0W-20. The “0” represents the cold viscosity rating (“W” stands for “Winter”) and the “20” represents the high temperature viscosity rating.

A motor oil like 5W-30 will flow better at lower temperatures than a motor oil rated 10W-30. If you live in colder climates, you will likely want to select the motor oil that performs better under those conditions.

High Mileage Vehicles

Motor oils come in many assortments and you will want to consider the age and mileage of your car before you decide on a specific oil type. Higher mileage oils are designed specifically for motors that have been through more wear and tear.

Oils designed for higher mileage vehicles include additives and conditioners that help to improve seals, which harden and lose flexibility with time. Higher mileage oils also have a higher viscosity, which means these oils seal clearances better than other products.

Choosing an Oil Additive

There are many additives on the market that help to promote better oil performance. These products, which are added to the oil, serve a variety of purposes. Common additives include:

  • Detergents – Help to prevent against deposits that occur under high temperatures
  • Antiwear agents – help to prevent wear on metal components when oil breaks down
  • Antioxidants – help to prevent oxidation and oil thickening
  • Rust inhibitors – protect metal parts from moisture exposure

Consult with a mechanic before purchasing additives. Mixing in too many additives can have potentially unintended consequences and create larger problems in the long run.