The smooth running of an internal combustion engine relies on engine oil. Engine oil is a lubricant that is central to most of our lives, without it, engines will seize up. However, choosing the right engine oil can be a real challenge, given that there are so many makes and variants. The question is whether or not it actually matters which engine oil you use.
Even in the case where you are driving a vehicle that is brand new or only a few months old and you are taking it to the dealership for servicing you should still be checking your engine oil levels. The necessity of checking regularly is even more important if you own an older vehicle as these tend to use more engine oil than newer models – and can also develop leaks. Make good use of your dipstick and check the engine oil levels regularly, do not rely on third parties, or let that level fall below the minimum.
Why is Topping Up Oil so Vital?
That minimum engine oil level is important. If that level is not maintained (at a bare minimum) then the engine is in very real danger of seizing up due to major component failure. Letting your car run while oil levels are lower than the manufacturer’s recommendations can cause premature wear – or that catastrophic failure. However, it’s not only about keeping oil levels above the recommended minimum – your car’s oil should be changed regularly (in accordance with manufacturer-recommended service intervals). Oil becomes less effective with time.
Is there a Difference between Synthetic and Mineral Oils?
It could be said that mineral oils are cruder than synthetic options. These mineral oils are cheaper than scientifically developed engine oils, however, mineral oils should be perfectly adequate protection for most car engines. However, high-performance models may require specialist synthetic oils in order to achieve peak performance.
‘The ‘Synthetic Oils that are today available are the best that modern science can provide. they have been formulated for use in high-performance engines. Although these oils are described as ‘Synthetic’ they are based on the raw material that is extracted in oil fields. However, the molecular structure of these oils has been manipulated, refined, and modified, ‘synthesized’ during the production process using a variety of complex laboratory procedures.
About Oil Viscosity Ratings
In order for the engine oil to deliver superior performance, it needs to flow as efficiently as possible around the engine parts. The thickness (i.e. ‘viscosity’) of the oil has traditionally been measured when the oil reaches a temperature of 100 degrees Centigrade.
However, car engines operate across a broad band of different temperatures, and the temperature differential between an engine that has just been started and one that has been running for some time can be significant. FLUX air-operated diaphragm pumps meet most demands with high operational safety and reliability. It can be calculated easily by using an optional stroke counter. On the other hand, engine oil that has been developed for use at average operating temperatures will simply not perform adequately at ‘start-up’ (colder) temperatures. This is when most of the wear and tear on your car engine occurs. The answer has been the development of ‘Multigrade Oils. These oils use additives known as ‘Viscosity Index Improvers’ (VIIs) to ensure that oil flows freely, even at lower temperatures.
Are there other Additives in my Oil?
The subject of oil is more complex than just viscosity, grades and synthetic vs mineral oil. In fact, oils could be compared to an extremely complex ‘chemical soup.’ Modern oils have not only been developed to offer superior lubrication but also to protect engines, as well as improve efficiency and cope with innovations such as diesel particulate filters.
The need for advanced oils means that the oil that you purchase has many components. These include those VIIs we have spoken of earlier, detergents, anti-wear compounds, and dispersants. In addition, widely available engine oils will probably contain pour-point depressants, anti-oxidants, corrosion inhibitors, and foam inhibitors.
Choosing the Right Engine Oil for your Car
Your first point of reference should be your owner’s manual. if you do not have that manual then pay the auto manufacturer’s website a visit where the correct information on ideal oil types should be easily available. Manufacturers post OEM (original equipment manufacturer) standards that are watched closely by oil production companies to ensure that the right product is available.
Your best course of action might be to find the manufacturer’s OEM number on your car. Simply Google that and you will, in all probability find the information on the correct oil to use in your vehicle. The search results will pop up on the web addresses of major oil company websites. Your vehicle’s OEM number will also probably appear in the fine print of the oil packaging.
It is worth noting that most oils are suitable for both diesel and petrol engines, and the manufacturers will include a combination petrol/diesel code on the packaging.
Choices for Older Vehicles
Expensive synthetic oils may not be ideal for each and every motor vehicle. Older engines may have been developed and launched during a period when engine tolerances were much less exacting than today. Engine wear can also result in more generous tolerances. A standard, traditionally formulated oil may not only be cheaper but simply more effective, and offer greater levels of engine protection for older models of motor vehicles. These cars were manufactured when tolerances were much looser – and general wear will have made the tolerances more forgiving. Either way, a traditional, more viscous mineral oil won’t just be cheaper, it might offer better protection.