Everything and More That You’ve Wanted to Know About Motor Oil

Keeping your car looking good helps preserve its value, and so does making sure it’s running well.  The right motor oil has quite a bit to do with your car’s performance.  When the discussion of choosing the best motor oil comes up, do you have an answer?  You need to make a choice for your car, but you want to make sure that it is the best one.  Most motor oil manufacturers provide data on their oil.  You can find out what makes up their product; if you want to know what it going into your engine, this is where you will find it. A wide range of quality in oils is available, but some of the higher premium oils have different components that might be better for your vehicle than others.

ag0806a1There are six different types of components in oil that should be covered: viscosity, viscosity index, flash point, pour point, sulfated ash, and zinc.

  • Viscosity is the flow of the oil and how it is able to provide resistance against the flow. The weights that are on the oils are the measurements that go along with the viscosity and taken at specific temperatures. They go from 5 to 50, and the ‘W’ means that it can be used in winter. An oil labeled 10W-40 is usually not recommended and can sometimes void a warranty if it is used. (Check the owner’s manual for your particular vehicle to be sure.)  Oil labeled 20W-50 is then used instead and provides the same spread as the other but it is a heavier oil.
  • The viscosity index is the change of viscosity of an oil within a certain temperature range. The higher this number is, the better the oil is.
  • Flash point is used to determine the temperature that the oil has to be in order to give off flammable vapors. The lower the flash point number, the more likely it is to vaporize; the higher it number is an indication it can burn off pistons and cylinder walls.
  • The pour point is the degree reading where the oil can be chilled – when there is no movement on the surface within 5 seconds while the container is inclined. This is an important number to consider for the winter months. The lower the number, the better it is.
  • The percent of sulfated ash is how much solid material is left over once the oil burns. Go with low ash content.
  • The percent zinc in the oil is important if you’re trying to find out the extreme pressure and the anti-wear additive that is in it. This is usually only used when there is metal touching in the engine. This should not be something that you worry about if the oil does it’s job. Anything higher than .11 percent might cause problems.

The synthetic oils that you find give the difference to have high temperature oxidation resistance which makes them superior, high film strength, low tendency to form deposits, stable viscosity base, and the low temperature flow characteristics. Additives for oils shouldn’t be used since the companies that manufacture the oils to develop the whole package that you need in the oils that you buy. It is recommended that you get your oil changed every 3,000 miles.

If you have questions about the right type of oil for your engine, the first place to start is with your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer’s recommendations are.  The next resource is a trusted mechanic.  Your vehicle’s engine will live longer and have an overall better life if the right oils are used. High quality oils are the best way to go.

SkipChips is dedicated to helping Minneapolis area drivers take good care of their vehicles.  If you’ve got questions about protecting your vehicle’s paint job, windshield, and interior, give us a call.  We’ve got a number of solutions to help you keep your car looking good – keeping the engine in top shape is up to you.