A Definitive Guide to Motor oil. A man checking the motor oil of his car.
While the use of electric vehicles (EVs) is being encouraged for obvious reasons, the majority of vehicles that you see on the roads still use the internal combustion engine (ICE). As anybody who owns one of these vehicles knows, both diesel-powered and gasoline-powered engines require a fair amount of upkeep and maintenance to keep the engine running at an optimal level; this also includes frequent oil changes to improve the fuel economy of a vehicle.
Although motor oil is not something that a vehicle owner often thinks about, as compared to fuel, it still provides a valuable function, as in, making sure the internal components of an engine remain lubricated so that they don’t give way to wear and tear which occurs over time. While all motor oil might look similar to some folks, they are very different in terms of their source material, function, viscosity, and their type.
That said, motor oil has a common function amongst both diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles, albeit with varied specifications that need to be followed depending on the vehicle’s manufacturer recommendations. As in, just grabbing a random motor oil and pouring it into your vehicle can end up in the engine stalling, or worse, serious long-term damage that’s permanent (as in, you’ll need a loan for a new car.)
Since some motor oils are formulated to be used for some vehicles, and others are formulated to be used on others, it pays to educate yourself in the various types of motor oils that are available and how you can choose the best one for your vehicle.
Why Use Motor Oil?
While there’s a difference in terms of quality and performance, the truth is that the importance of motor oil when it comes to the function and efficiency of a vehicle’s engine cannot be denied. For those who are still wondering why motor oil matters for your car, the following are some additional benefits of using the right motor oil for your vehicle. It should be noted that regardless of the type of motor oil, its primary function is to make sure your engine is safe and running smoothly.
- Provides protection for the emission system.
- Prevents corrosion, rust, and wear and tear of the engine.
- Keeps the engine lubricated so that all moving parts do not grind against each other, which could lead to unnecessary damage.
- Help reduce the mechanical friction.
- Disperses heat to keep all of the moving parts of the vehicle’s engine cool.
- Improves the fuel economy of a vehicle.
- Makes it easier to start internal combustion engines.
- Keeps the engine clean by flushing out dirt and other tiny particles.
Types of Motor Oils
Over the past few decades, vehicles are getting more and more sophisticated and components more refined. It has also been noticed that these new vehicles require special care and attention when it comes to the motor oil or engine lube being used. Not choosing the right one can result in the engine malfunctioning or irreparable damage to the engine.
The good news is that the manufacturers of vehicles recommend certain motor oil depending on the make and model of the vehicle, along with the engine that’s under the hood. Your vehicle’s mechanic, who has hands-on experience in repairing cars, can also give you sound advice on the type of motor oil you should use in your vehicle.
Keeping the importance of motor oil in mind for the optimal performance of a car’s engine, the following are some of the types of motor oils that are easily available in the market today.
Mineral-Based Motor Oil
This is the oldest of the three and was first introduced back in 1908 for the Ford Model T. This type of engine oil can be divided into two grades; 10W-40 and 15W-40. One of the main characteristics of this basic form of engine oil is that it offers basic engine wear protection. On the downside, this motor oil needs to be frequently changed to ensure the engine’s optimal performance.
Synthetic or Semi-Synthetic Blend
This is the middle ground of motor oils and offers vehicle owners the best of both worlds. This synthetic blend has a lot more to offer as compared to mineral-based engine oils, such as better protection and more kilometers per oil change. However, the steep price tag seems to be the only reason why folks drive away from this synthetic blend.
The engine oil grade of the synthetic blend can be sub-divided into; 5W-30, 10W-40, and 15W-40. One of the main selling points of the synthetic or semi-synthetic blend is the exceptional protection that it offers during cold starts, which makes it a great option, especially for those who live in colder climates.
Fully Synthetic Engine Oil
The fully synthetic engine oil is the latest offering that the auto industry has to offer. This is a fully synthetic fluid that’s been formulated by synthetic materials in labs and offers top-shelf quality, economy, and protection for the engine. One of the main highlights of the fully synthetic engine oil is that they have been formulated with controlled blends, which means that they can bring out the best performance in a vehicle’s engine.
Some of the other factors that set this type of motor oil apart from the rest are that it offers far superior protection and controls the by-products of combustion, along with smooth cold starts as well as high running temperatures. This type of engine oil is graded as; 0W-30, 0W-40, and 5W-40.
When it’s time to choose the motor oil for your vehicle, apart from the mechanic’s recommendations and the manufacturer’s recommendations, it is also a good idea to ask yourself the following;
- Am I going to be driving in extremely cold or hot weather often?
- Am I going to be pulling or carrying heavy loads (in case of a caravan or trailer)?
- Is the vehicle going to be driven in city conditions with many stops and starts?
Answering these questions should get you a good idea of what motor oil option to go with for your vehicle.
As you can see that there are multiple types of motor oils that are available in the market for vehicles, from conventional or mineral-based to synthetic blends and full synthetic motor oils. Each of these options has been specifically designed to improve the performance of specific car engines, as in diesel or gasoline, along with the type of vehicles, as in trucks, caravan, or passenger cars.
Motor oils are also environment-specific, which means you need to keep in mind the driving conditions as well, especially if you happen to travel by car in harsh summers or extremely cold winters. This is why it is always advised that vehicle owners should follow the recommendations made by the car manufacturer or their mechanic to make sure that their car’s engine is always performing at an optimal level, offers great fuel efficiency, and doesn’t contribute to the general wear and tear of a vehicle’s engine over time.