Should You Put A New Engine In An Old Car Grades of Engine Oil: Demystifying What They Mean

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Grades of Engine Oil: Demystifying What They Mean

Each manufacturer has specific recommendations or minimum requirements for the type of oil that a given engine will use. You may be wondering what the difference is between the different weights, grades and viscosities? What is the difference between 5W-30 and 10W-30? What do all these numbers mean? Can’t you use oil in your car, or does it really matter?

Deciphering the oil code

The terms weight, grade, or viscosity are commonly used interchangeably and basically mean the same thing. These refer to thickness or how easily the oil flows. Use of multi-variety 5W-30 oil, for example, this type is very commonly used in millions of cars. The first number followed by “V” indicates viscosity (or density) for low temperatures. “V” stands for winter. The lower that first number is, the less viscous or thinner your oil will be at colder temperatures. While it may seem like a small thing, the number makes a big difference.

When engines come to life after turning the ignition key, the oil pump tries to push oil from the low-lying oil pan to the top of the engine to lubricate all the moving parts (eg pistons, camshaft, etc.). ) Cold start is the time of greatest engine wear. The heavier (or thicker) the oil, the harder the oil pump has to work and the longer it takes for the engine to receive the critical oil lubrication needed to prevent metal-to-metal friction when starting. Thus, a 5 W- the oil will flow faster and easier than a heavier oil that will have a higher number eg 10 W- or 15 W- oil

Second number found after “V” determines the viscosity at high temperatures. The higher the number, the thicker the oil will be at the optimum temperature. It was common in older cars to switch to different weights of oil depending on the season. This is not as common practice today due to manufacturers which create lighter weight engines and use different engine materials than before. It is always recommended to follow the manufacturer’s fluid specifications, which can be found in your vehicle’s manual. Using a different weight of oil than recommended will likely result in lower fuel economy or more engine wear.

Are there exceptions to the rule?

Occasional exceptions to the “follow the manufacturer’s recommendations” rule come into play as the engine ages and moving parts may have more clearance between components. Thicker oils can sometimes improve performance and protection in these conditions, but for most vehicle owners, the specifications in the vehicle’s owner’s manual should be followed.

What do manufacturers say?

Some manufacturers list a number of different types of motor oil depending on the climate in which the vehicle will be used. A heavier weight oil is likely to be recommended for vehicles in arid southern areas such as Scottsdale, Arizona, while a lighter weight oil may be better in a cooler climate such as found in Rapid City, South Dakota . Oil in South Dakota will obviously be exposed to colder engine starting conditions during the winter months than oil in Arizona during the same time period.

What is Straight Oil and MultiViscosity Oil?

You should never use plain oil (SAE30, SAE40, SAE50etc.) in a system designed for oil with different viscosities. Straight oils are used for smaller engines or older car engines made before multi-viscosity oils were created. Although snowmobiles, ATVs and motorcycles have smaller engines than most cars and trucks, straight oils cannot be used in these vehicles. Even common automotive oils may not be suitable due to specific engine design, such as two-stroke versus four-stroke engines.

Take care of the engine you depend on

All things considered, using the proper grade of oil and changing the oil in your vehicle at regular prescribed intervals are two of the most important preventive maintenance tasks for your vehicle. Failure to do so may cause the oil to run out, eventually causing the engine to seize. Most repairs related to improper or careless oil handling are preventable and expensive. It’s better to invest in good car maintenance practices now than to pay for painful repairs later. Knowing the right oil to put in your car (and why) is a good first step in taking care of the engine you depend on.

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