There are many engine oil types for cars, which can make choosing the right kind a daunting task. If you visit a big box store or automotive parts outlet, it’s not uncommon to stand mesmerized by the choices.
Demystifying Oil Grades
You need to know that the different letters and numbers on oil containers mean something. They indicate the grade or viscosity of oil, which is a measurement of its resistance to flow. The higher the viscosity, the slower it flows, like honey.
The first number, before the “W” (which stands for “winter”) is the viscosity rating for cold weather. As you can probably guess, the second number is the high temperature viscosity rating. The bigger the spread between the two, the better an oil protects the engine in a variety of environments.
While it might now be tempting to just pick an oil based on the grade, you shouldn’t. Vehicle manufacturers always recommend what grade of oil you should use. See the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website to get the exact specifications for your vehicle.
In some cases, you might have your choice between two oil grades. In the wide-ranging climate of Atlanta, it’s generally a safer bet to choose an oil that can withstand a variety of temperatures.
Types of Engine Oil
Your engine oil choices go beyond just grades. Likely, you’ve noticed there are quite a few types of oil: convention, synthetic, and high mileage to name a few.
These types of car engine oil can be confusing if you don’t know anything about them. Armed with information about the differences between them, you can make an educated choice.
Engine Oil Types for Cars:
- Synthetic: With synthetic motor oil, you get a product that’s been through a special chemically engineered process. As a result, the oil molecules are more uniform than in other oils. This means fewer impurities and better protection for your engine. For the most part, synthetics perform better in extremely cold and hot temperatures. They provide superior protection for your engine, and can even extend how long you can go between oil changes, if the manufacturer says that’s the case.
- Synthetic Blend: Instead of being fully synthetic, the base of this oil is a premium version of conventional oil. Some synthetic oil is then added. This mixture is better at low-temperature performance than regular motor oil, and it resists oxidation better.
- Conventional: This is your “regular” or average oil. If you have a car with a simple engine design, plus you don’t push your vehicle hard or drive in extreme conditions, this might be your best option. Additionally, this type of engine oil typically has the lowest price tag.
- High Mileage: This is a good option if you have an older vehicle, or a newer car with over 75,000 miles on it. Thanks to some special additives and formula, this oil is less prone to burn-off. High mileage oil is designed to fight off sludge buildup, a residue like tar that can accumulate as you don’t change the oil often enough. It’s also designed to prevent oil leaks, which are more likely with older engines, thanks to conditioners for internal engine seals.
High Mileage vs Synthetic Oil
If you have an older car or one with a lot of miles, you might be wondering if getting synthetic oil is better than choosing high mileage oil, or vice versa. Regular synthetic oil doesn’t have the same additives as high mileage oil, but it does provide superior wear protection.
That being said, there are high mileage synthetic oils, giving you the best of both options.
The Bottom Line About Engine Oil Types for Cars
When it comes to engine oil types for cars, it might seem like there a lot of options to choose from, but only a few will be optimal for your specific vehicle.
From there, all you need to decide on is a brand. It seems like everyone has an opinion about which brands are best. It’s true that not all engine oil is created equally, since the various companies have different standards. That being said, in general you’ll enjoy the best quality from well-known industry names versus generic or no-name oils. If you plan on keeping your car for the long haul, opting for the more expensive but well-known brands is always a safe choice.
The next time you go shopping for engine oil, the wide selection at the store shouldn’t look nearly as confusing. As always, you can contact T3 Atlanta for help with oil changes or other maintenance items on your car.