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A detailed look at choosing the right engine oil for your vehicle
There are numerous options for consumers” when it comes to choosing the right engine oil for their vehicle. In fact, many people will pick up the first engine oil they see without understanding the suitability and performance. This can not only affect performance but also be detrimental to your vehicles health. As performance requirements set out by manufacturers are so unique, there are so many engine oils available. This detailed guide will not only break down the different information that you will need to know but allow you to make the best possible choice for your vehicle.
The most popular comparison for engine oil is that it is the lifeblood of an engine and to a degree, this is a true statement. If the engine did not have oil to lubricate the key parts, help with cleaning and sealing, the engine would run for only a few of seconds. The importance of the oil cannot be understated. Oil is so important that the minimum we want for our vehicle is the best oil we can get—for a price relative to performance.
Engine oil can at times be taken for granted and its importance isn’t really understood. There are 5 key functions that are performed by engine oils to ensure that your vehicle operates to the best of its ability. Other than lubrication, engine oils also perform 4 other functions that are essential to both the performance and health of your engine.
The quality of a lubricant is defined by a number of parameters which can normally be found on the label. This information will enable you to view the properties and performance levels of the lubricant. To help you understand the jargon and information found on the label. I have highlighted the key terms and information that will be integral to choosing the right oil.
Viscosity varies according to temperature in the following manner:
The higher the temperature, the more fluid the oil and the lower its viscosity. This means that if the engine is to perform at its best, the oil must be able to retain its viscosity whatever the heat conditions: it must stay fluid at cold temperatures (to allow the engine to start) and it must be viscous at hot temperatures (to stop the various moving parts coming into contact with each other).
Viscosity is essentially oil’s resistance to flow. It is by far the single most important consideration of the oil as it affects both the wear and tear rate of the engine and its performance in relation to fuel consumption. For example, a liquid such as water is a low viscosity fluid; while a fluid such as syrup is considered a high viscosity fluid. If we increase the temperature of syrup, the viscosity of it lowers, meaning that it will flow faster.
Viscosity is commonly measured with the Kinematic viscosity and is usually quoted in data sheets at 40°C and 100°C. Kinematic Viscosity measures the resistance of the fluid to flow and shear under the forces of gravity, or how easy the oil flows to the different parts of the engine.
Single-viscosity oil and multi-grade oil are the two types of engine oil available on the market today. Almost every vehicle can run on a multi-viscosity oil. The lower the number, the thinner the oil and the more easily it flows. In 10W-40 oil, for example, the two numbers mean that it’s a multi-viscosity oil. The 10W refers to how the oil flows at low temperatures (in winter); 40 refers to how it flows at high temperatures.
Viscosity index is the measure of the change in viscosity due to the effects of temperature variations. Viscosity index improvers are additives that are sensitive to temperature and used to alter this index to make the change in viscosity small enough throughout the car’s normal range of temperatures that the oil will be useful whether your car is just being started on a winter morning or driven at engine temperatures well in excess of 90 degrees. Nearly all modern engine oils have viscosity index improvers.
As we have seen in our previous articles, engine oil comes in a number of grades, viscosities and contain various additives. Another option that will find is whether you are buying synthetic or conventional engine oil. Synthetic engine oils generally perform better than mineral engine oils in areas such as providing protection for your vehicle or added lubrication, but you may not understand why. So what are the key differences between synthetic and conventional oil and what factors should you take into account?
There are many types of synthetic oils that are available to buy including synthetic oils that are made from a base stock and semi-synthetic oils. Synthetic oils are refined and distilled and broken down into their basic molecules. This purification process removes impurities and allows for the oil to be tailored to suit modern engines. Semi-synthetic oils are a blended oil that is made up of no more than 30% synthetic base. Synthetic oils generally provide less friction and are more stable, frequently lasting longer than a non-synthetic oil.
Mineral engine oil, on the other hand, is a lubricant that is formulated directly from crude oil. It has excellent properties that allow it to provide lubrication at high temperatures, all the while maintaining its stability over longer periods of time. In reality, synthetic oils start their lives as conventional oils and are then modified to improve its protective and lubricant properties. A number of synthetic oil blends are designed especially to increase the life and performance of high-mileage cars. Other oils are designed directly for high-performance engines while others are created to increase fuel efficiency.
The properties that separate conventional oil from synthetics affect your engine in many significant ways. But remember that these types of oils are in no way completely necessary. Although the properties of the synthetic oil are considered superior, conventional oil will protect your vehicle’s engine just fine. The most important thing you can do to keep your car running smoothly is to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations and service interval guidelines.
Use of additives is another approach to improving and maintaining oil performance. High engine temperatures combine with moisture, combustion by-products (including unburned gasoline), rust, corrosion, engine wear particles and oxygen to produce sludge and varnish. The additives not only assist oil in maintaining good lubrication, they also help minimize sludge and varnish, and any damage from their formation. Here are the categories of key additive ingredients and why they’re important:
Most of the additives above will already be found in the oil as it comes from the manufacturer, so they will not have to be added by the vehicle owner. But if you walk into any number of stores, you can find numerous bottles of aftermarket engine oil additives that will highlight how they will improve engine performance even further and/or clean your engine better than the detergents already found in your oil. It is extremely important to remember that the oil you are buying has been developed to perform specific functions and that the additives are balanced precisely to perform these tasks. Adding excess additives will affect this balance detrimentally lowering performance. Always follow the instructions in your manufacturer’s manual.
Finol provides the go-to app in choosing your engine oil. Go to the Finol Which Oil App choose your vehicle and fill in your details. Within seconds you will be brought to the best oil for your vehicle. Our full product range can be viewed here or you can contact one of our specialised team members by clicking here
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