Why Is It Important To Choose The Right Engine Oil?
By Integra Tire Canada
Your vehicle is one of the biggest investments you’ll make over your lifetime, and properly maintaining it ensures your vehicle will have a long life with minimal repair expenses. Oil changes are among the simplest and most effective maintenance you can have performed. It is recommended that you have your engine oil changed every 5,000KM, or more frequently if you are constantly driving in “stop and go” traffic, like in heavy urban areas. Although many people do realize they need regular oil changes, they rarely, if ever, think about the best type of oil to use. In this guide, we’ll discuss the different types of engine oil and why it’s important to choose the right one.
Engine Oil 101
Your engine is made up of a complex system of pistons, valves, a camshaft, and other components that, in simple terms, convert fuel to motion through thousands of controlled explosions. The primary purpose of engine oil (often referred to as motor oil) is to lubricate all of the moving parts inside of your engine, reducing friction. Without oil, your components will experience metal-to-metal contact and prematurely wear, leading to costly repairs. Your oil also acts as a coolant, absorbing the heat from your engine block as it travels through its components. Over time oil collects dirt and metal debris, losing its ability to lubricate and cool your engine – this is why your vehicle needs regular oil changes.
You’ve likely seen oil at a department store, and perhaps wondered “why are there so many different kinds of oil?”. There are a few ways that oil differ, and one of the most obvious is the oil’s viscosity. You may remember learning about viscosity in school. It’s a fluid’s resistance to flow. In terms of engine oil, it is the ability of the engine oil to flow throughout the components of your engine in different conditions.
The Correct Viscosity
Engine oil can thicken in cold temperatures and thin out in warm temperatures. It is important that the oil is not too thick or too thin. When oil becomes too thick, it will fail to flow efficiently to components. When oil becomes too thin, you will lose oil pressure and your engine components will experience metal-to-metal contact.
Oil viscosity is often represented by a four or five character number and letter combination such as “5W-20” or “10W-30”. The number before the “W” represents the oil’s flow in cold temperatures (-17 degrees Celsius). The lower the number, the less thick it will become in cold weather. For example, 5W will flow better in cold weather than 10W. This number goes down to “0W-XX”, the most resistant to cold temperatures while maintaining viscosity. The number after the “W” (ie the 30 in “10W-30”) represents the oil’s viscosity measured at high temperatures (100 Degrees Celsius).
The owner’s manual will advise the best viscosity range and a choice can be made depending on those parameters.
Synthetic VS Conventional Oil
Conventional oil is simply manufactured from crude oil. Synthetic oil is more scientifically refined. It is designed specifically to feature the best aspect of conventional oil with less contaminants and, thus, prevent sludge and buildups that are common with conventional oil. Because it is cleaner and more refined, it will flow better regardless of the temperature. It also lasts longer, often 2x longer than conventional oil.
Because of these benefits, synthetic oil changes are typically more expensive than regular oil changes. However, many higher end vehicle manufacturers, such as BMW, only recommend synthetic oil- and may mandate it in their vehicle warranty conditions.
Making The Decision
As you may be able to tell by now, choosing the correct engine oil is much more complicated than grabbing the first jug you see on the shelf at your auto parts store! Failure to choose the correct oil can lead to premature wear and expensive repair bills down the road. This is why many people trust their local Integra Tire as their destination for regular oil changes. Our service advisors will take into account your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, service history, your driving type, as well as seasonality to ensure your vehicle’s oil is the right choice.
Questions? Our Advisors are Happy to Help!If you have questions about anything you've read in this resource page, contact your nearest Integra Tire dealer for more information. We are passionate in assisting our customers make the best choices to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and keep their families safe.
About UsIntegra Tire is a network of independent tire, automotive, and maintenance dealers across Canada.