Tuesday, October 15, 2013

All About Motor Oil

What type of motor oil is best for my engine?
            The short answer to this question is, the type specified by the vehicle manufacturer in your owner's manual. For most passenger vehicles, almost any oil that meets the American Petroleum Institute's ratings can suffice, be they synthetic or petroleum based. However, there are many reasons why one might choose a certain oil viscosity over another.

Oil Viscosity
            The oil viscosity required by vehicles depends on the climate the vehicle is being driven in. For example if your car is constantly in very hot weather a slightly thicker oil may be suggested to stand up against the heat. Conversely, a thick oil would not be recommended in colder climates where it may be more prone to freezing. Most new engines today require a multi-viscosity oil. This means  the oil is a mixture of both thin oil and thick oil. Because there is a mixture of oil viscosity they are more suited for all-round driving. Some options for multi-viscosity oils are listed here, from less thick to more thick, [5W-30], [10W-30], [10W-40], [20W-40].
            Lighter oils such as [ 5W-30 ] contain friction reducing additives that help improve fuel economy and also allow the oil to quickly reach critical upper valve-train components when a cold engine is first started. It is important for this lighter oil to quickly reach engine components because engine wear is most prominent during cold temperature starts.
            Thicker oils such as [40w] work well in very hot weather or engines that sustain a long period of drive time. The thicker oil can hold up better under high temperatures, increases oil pressure and reduces oil consumption in high mileage engines.

Synthetic Oils
            For the most effective protection, durability and all around performance, synthetic oils are recommended. However, because these oils are man-made and not refined from petroleum their superior performance comes at a slightly higher price.
            Synthetic oils can withstand higher operating temperatures, up to 450 degrees, compared to petroleum based oils, which only operate up to 300 degrees. Therefore, synthetics are well suited for high output engines and turbo applications.
            Conversely, synthetics work just as well at sub zero temperatures. Where ordinary oils would normally freeze at 40 or 50 degrees below zero, synthetics flow freely making them easier for cold starts. There is no need to worry about engine wear as the synthetic oil can quickly provide upper valve-train lubrication.
            Another strong selling point of synthetic oils is their ability to resist oxidation and viscosity breakdown. As a result oil change intervals can be safely extended without break down or sludge up. However, one should note that failing to follow the Original Equipment Manufacture's scheduled change intervals could void the vehicles warranty.
            Ultimately the premium-priced oil is best for turbocharged or supercharged engines, performance or high output engines, vehicles used for towing, vehicles operated in extremely hot or cold climates, or those who want superior lubrication and protection.