All About Your Car Engine’s Oil

All About Your Car Engine’s Oil

Your car needs oil, but there are so many different kinds. Our auto technicians at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton can help you understand all about your car engine’s oil and change it for you. It’s important because it lubricates the metal surfaces of your vehicle’s engine and cuts friction. Without it, your car is at risk for overheating and massive engine damage.

After a while, your car’s oil gets contaminants and loses its viscosity (the ability to flow). Those contaminants cause friction when parts rub together. A lot of friction on will wear the parts out faster, and possibly cause major problems with your engine. The damage may even require an engine replacement or overhaul.

Oil also helps clean the engine and carry away harmful chemicals and contaminants that come as by-products from the combustion process. Oil helps cool the engine by transferring heat away. It improves sealing inside the engine so the components aren’t exposures to oxygen.

Some engine oil contains an additive package which counteracts the acids resulting from the combustion process. Oil manufacturers add chemicals and minerals to change how the oil works within an engine. In addition to the additive packages like anti-wear additives, there are varying viscosities, oils for high- and low-mileage vehicles, extended life and others. 

But what kind of oil does your car need? An article in Auto How Stuff Works explains how you decide.

Conventional Oil

It is the cheapest but doesn’t offer much in the way of additive packages. This is a good oil for cars that get frequent oil changes and have low-mileage engines. 

Premium Conventional Oil

This oil is usually used for new cars and comes in the usual viscosities. Car manufacturers usually specify 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil, though some require 10W-30.

High-Mileage Oil

This oil is used for vehicles that have driven more than 75,000 miles. Seal conditioners are added to the oil, both synthetic and conventional, which expands and increases the flexibility of internal engine seals. The conditioners are very precise and can benefit some engines while not affecting others.

Full Synthetic Oil

These oils are made for high-tech engines. They have better and longer-lasting performance in all the critical areas. They flow better at low temperatures and maintain peak lubrication at high temperatures. 

Synthetic oil has less evaporative loss, a higher viscosity index (resistance to thinning as temperature rise is the viscosity index), and greater resistance to oxidation thermal breakdown and sludge problems.

Synthetic oil gives better performance in extreme temperatures. Synthetic oil flows better at freezing temperatures than conventional oil. It is more chemically stable and doesn’t evaporate as easily and won’t break down in the high heat from your vehicle engine. This lets it resist turning into sludge, which can cause engine problems.

Synthetic oil usually costs more than conventional oil. The synthetic oils have to go through a more involved manufacturing process, which makes the price higher, sometimes three times as expensive. So, if an oil change with conventional oil costs around $20, then your oil change with synthetic oil would cost about $80 or higher.

Some car manufacturers require full synthetic oil in their high-tech engines. If it’s recommended and you don’t use it, it can cause damage to your engine and void your vehicle’s warranty. Corvettes and some Mercedes-Benz vehicles use synthetic oil as a factory fill.

Synthetic oil may cost more but it lasts longer, so you don’t need an oil change as often. With synthetic oil, your car may be able to last up to 7,000 to 10,000 miles between oil changes.

Synthetic Blend Oil

This is a blend of synthetic and conventional oils and is between both of them in protection and price. The oil is formulated to offer better protection during heavier engine loads and the associated higher engine temperatures. If you do a lot of towing, severe use driving like in heavy traffic, or off-roading, you might want to consider using a synthetic or synthetic blend. These oils are popular with pickups and SUV drivers.

Synthetic blend oil is more slippery than conventional oil which creates less friction in your engine parts. This allows your engine to run cooler, have less wear, and last longer. It can also provide a boost in power. But if the manual doesn’t call for synthetic oil, using it will only be an additional expense that may not improve the engine’s performance or life.

We also recommend an oil filter specifically built for the longer lasting service life of synthetic oil.

Oil Changes

You should always use the factory-recommended oil. To tell what kind of oil to use and when to change it, check your car manufacturer’s manual. They know what works best for your car. It will recommend an oil based on your car’s mileage, the type of driving you do, and even ambient temperatures. If you don’t have the owner’s manual that came with the car, you can find the recommendations online on the car’s manufacturer’s website.

You may hear some people recommend an oil change within a set period of time, but it’s really more complicated than that. As we mentioned, vehicles are all different, depending on the age of the vehicle, mileage, and vehicle usage. If you’d like we can help you by setting up a regular schedule for required oil changes and send reminders. 

Oil Light

In the past, everyone got oil changes every 3,000 to 3,500 miles. But now, due to better engine mechanical parts and better oil, you can usually go twice that long between oil changes. But don’t wait until the oil light goes on to schedule your oil change, if you do, it may already be damaging your engine.

Driving Conditions

Do you start your vehicle in the cold, experience extreme heat, use your vehicle for towing, or have multiple short trips under four miles? If so, then it may shorten the oil life. Any of these driving conditions can shorten your oil change service interval by 25 to 40 percent.

Maintenance Reminders

Your car dash’s maintenance reminder uses the car’s computers to track mileage and time. Some maintenance reminders have an electronic sensor that measures the oil quality, but others use an algorithm based on driving metrics to determine your oil’s life. If you don’t have a dash reminder, go back to the manufacturer’s manual to help you decide or come in and we will help you.

You can also check the sticker in the corner of the windshield that reminds you when to schedule an oil change. If you bring your car to our specialists at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton we can keep track of what kind of oil your car needs and when your car needs an oil change. We understand all about your car engine’s oil, so you don’t have to.