What Kind of Oil Should I Put in my Car?

Oil ChangeAh, the classic car maintenance question. While changing the oil is definitely one of the most important vehicle services, there is a lot of confusion surrounding it. We’ll cut to the chase. You can find out what type of oil you should put in your car in your vehicle’s manual, as well as a huge drove of other important information.


If you’d like to understand a little more about what your oil does for your car, read on.


Why the Oil You Use Matters

If your car were a furry, four legged beast, its motor oil would be its lifeblood. Without it, it wouldn’t run too smoothly, and breakdown and disaster will soon follow.


Your engine has a lot of moving parts that create friction. Friction means heat, especially when you’re running constantly anywhere from 3,000 rpm to 5,000 rpm. Just rub your hands quickly together and notice the heat that builds up. Now imagine doing that fast enough to power a car. That’s enough heat to start a fire or warp steel.


That’s where motor oil comes in. Motor oil acts as a lubricant between your engine’s moving parts. More lubrication means less friction, which in turn means less heat. Less heat means less wear and tear on your engine while operating.


Not only does your motor oil act as a lubricant but also as a cleanser. Your engine picks up a lot of crud from the road while you drive. Winter roads are especially harsh, kicking up all sorts of grim and salt. Oil manufacturers add special detergents to their oil to help pick up these particles and keep them away from moving parts. If your oil didn’t do this, debris would slowly grind down vital engine components.


Here are some common oil related questions:

  • Why can’t I use any motor oil? Different oils have different weights and densities and are designed to go into different sized engines. A smaller engine will suffer if you put a denser oil in it. Go with what your vehicle manual recommends.
  • The oil is black. Should I change it? Black oil means that the cleaning agents are doing their job. For knowing when to exactly change your oil, go by the interval listed in your vehicle’s manual.

What does the “W” in the motor oil names mean? The “W” just means “winter,” indicating that the oil was designed to function in lower temperatures.


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