How to Pick the Best Motor Oil for Your Car

Car engines often need a different viscosity engine oil based on operating conditions. Find out here how to pick the best motor oil for your car.

DIYing a car repair isn’t the daunting task you imagine. In fact, you can save money and time by doing the job yourself.

But first, you need to walk through some options so help you make the best selections for your vehicle. Not every oil will help your engine be efficient.

For help finding the best motor oil for your car, keep reading.

The Needs of An Engine

An internal combustion engine is a complicated piece of machinery that you probably aren’t quite sure about how it works. While we don’t need to know all the ins and outs in order to drive our cars to work every day, it’s helpful to have a few details when working on something basic like an oil change.

All the parts inside the engine rub together and get really hot. The oil helps keep the parts slippery so they don’t create too much friction and heat. Then the engine would overheat and stop working.

Using dirty oil in your car can make it do a worse job at keeping the engine parts lubricated. That makes it more susceptible to mechanical trouble and breakdowns. It’s also a safety hazard.

To keep your engine in the best working order, change the oil on a regular basis. Then it will keep you, your passengers, and your engines safe. Some types of oil need to be changed after you’ve gone 3000 miles–others can wait until 5000 miles.

Finding the Best Motor Oil for Your Car

Each vehicle has different requirements for the oil it needs. The owner’s manual will tell you the type the maker recommends for your specific car. It’s listed with a small number, a “w,” and then a larger number.

For example, you may see your oil type listed as 5w30 or 10w30. These are the weights of the oils.

The first number is the thickness of the oil, or the viscosity. It means when the engine and the oil are cold, that’s the resistance to flow the oil offers. The W stands for winter, which is when the engine and oil are coldest.

The second number is the viscosity of the oil and how it flows when the engine and oil are hot, or boiling (212 Fahrenheit). As you can see, the number is much higher, meaning it flows much easier.

Choosing the weight recommended by the manufacturer is only the beginning. There are many more options for which kind of oil to choose after that. There are more details below.

What Are the Oil Differences?

You have a choice between conventional oil, synthetic oil, and synthetic blend oil. The best synthetic motor oil can go around 5000 miles before needing to be changed. Some older engines don’t work best with this type, though.

Even within the conventional oil realm, there are premium options for high-level operation. You’ll see these marked as SL or something similar. Conventional oils still have to have an oil change at 3000 miles, or every 3 months if you don’t drive that far in that amount of time.

Synthetic oil options have been through more tests and last longer in your engine. Newer cars come with recommendations for full synthetic oil, and you can go at least 5000, sometimes 6000 miles before needing an oil change. Check on the bottle for the right specifications for your oil and vehicle.

There are also synthetic-blend oils for your vehicle. This is a cross between the conventional and full synthetic options. It allows older vehicles to take advantage of the benefits in a synthetic oil without the higher price.

Other Oil Options

It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that even after you know the viscosity and type of oil, you still have other options to consider. Look for labels on the oil bottles that say they’re for high mileage vehicles or daily drivers.

These will help you sort through all the choices and make a selection that’s best for your vehicle and budget. Most of the time you’ll need around 5 quarts of oil unless you have an extra large engine.

Don’t forget that you’ll also need an oil filter. You’ll find similar listings for oil filters, so a good rule of thumb is to choose the one that matches the options you chose for your oil.

If you’re visiting a store to pick the oil out, there should be a book or an electronic search function to find the right filter for your make, model, and year of vehicle.

The oil filter takes out excess dirt while the oil circulates through the car. It’s important to have a clean oil filter because it keeps the oil cleaner longer, and the engine running smoothly.

Some mechanics say to replace the oil filter every time you get an oil change. Others say that every other time is okay. Check and see what the owner’s manual lists, and ask your mechanic.

The filters aren’t too expensive, so if you’re not sure when the last time your car had a new filter, it’s a good idea to change it out.

Taking Care of Your Vehicle

Finding the best motor oil for your car isn’t a hard task when you go through all the options. Check in the manual to find the right viscosity, then choose between conventional or synthetic options.

You’ll want to choose the other options for the type of driver you are and also select an oil filter. Then you should be ready to change the oil.

For tips, tricks, and auto articles, read more of our blog.