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There’s no denying that cars can be difficult to maintain, but you don’t have to have the skillset of a mechanic to take care of basic maintenance tasks. One of the basic tasks which all car owners should be able to get done without any hassle is changing a car’s oil, but even in a day and age where we have the internet at our fingertips, the majority of car owners still struggle with this.
Throughout this article, we are going to be explaining everything that you need to know about your car’s oil including the different types of oils, the best oil to use for your car, and how long certain oils last. So, with this in mind, let’s jump right into it.
What Is The Difference Between Oils?
Below we are going to be discussing four main types of oil; Mineral, Full-Synthetic, Semi-Synthetic, and High KM.
- Mineral Oil. A mineral oil is an oil which is completely natural and due to it being the least refined oil of the oils mentioned, it can be one of cheapest car oil that you can purchase. The low price may be attractive to some car users when they are changing their oil, although when using mineral oil, you can expect to change your oil much more frequently.
- Full-Synthetic Oil. A full-synthetic oil is an oil which is completely man-made and offers much better protection to your engine than a mineral oil. Synthetic oils are developed specifically for ensuring the best engine performance possible and provide your engine with the most effective protection while allowing it to perform at its peak. A full-synthetic oil contains several engine additives (such as anti-wear or an oil stabiliser) to ensure that the oil does not impact the performance of your engine negatively and to ensure that the oil does not wear down as fast.
- Semi-Synthetic Oil. A semi-synthetic oil is a mix of full-synthetic oil and natural mineral oil. Given that this type of oil contains both mineral and synthetic, it is cheaper for you to use this mix opposed to full-synthetic oil and you will still receive many of the benefits that you would from using full-synthetic oil. As with full-synthetic oil, semi-synthetic oil have a high tolerance to shear (breakdown) at higher temperatures.
- High KM Oil. A high KM oil is an oil which is developed specifically for vehicles with high km’s, normally over 100,000km. Similar to full-synthetic oils, high KM oils are mixed with stronger engine additives which further help to prevent engine sludge as well as engine wear. If you choose to use high KM oil, be aware that this oil is normally thicker than other oils (which can lead car owners to believe the oil needs to be changed much sooner than it actually does).
What Do The Oil Numbers Mean?
The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) created a ranking system that measures the viscosity or thickness of the oil. The thicker that the oil is, the higher its SAE rating will be.
For example, let’s focus on a standard oil grade of 15W-40. In this grade, the first number shows the viscosity of the oil when it is cold. Without overcomplicating things, the lower that this number is, the better the oil will flow. If we compared the 15W-40 oil to 5W-40 oil, the 5W-40 oil would flow around easier on start-up.
The second number in this grade shows the viscosity of the oil when it is at 100 degrees Celsius. If we refer back to the earlier example, while the oils have different start-up grades, once the engine is at its operating temperature, both oils are equally as effective.
Another common ranking system which is used is API (American Petroleum Institution) which is used to measure the performance of oil based on criteria.
Choosing the best oil for your car will save you money in the long-run
What oil do I need for my Car?
As a car owner, it’s only natural that the more you learn about your car, the more questions you’ll ask. “What oil is best for my car?” is one of these questions.
There are several factors to consider when selecting an oil for your car, including:
- Which car you drive
- Your budget for purchasing engine oil
- The distance you have clocked
- Where you live, as ambient temperature can change which oil you use
While there is no “best brand of car engine oil”, there’s no denying the fact that some are better than others. Cheap car oil may not perform as well as more expensive car ois, but again there are many factors to consider when comparing car oils.
How Long Does Oil Last?
This is one of the most common questions that we receive, but it isn’t an easy one to answer. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when calculating how long your car’s oil is going to last, such as:
- The quality of the oil
- The type of oil
- How far you drive
- Which oil filter is installed
With this in mind, if you use high-quality oil and have a decent oil filter installed, you won’t have to change your car’s oil as often as you would otherwise.
As you use your car, the oil is pumped through the engine to prevent friction between moving parts which if no oil was used, would cause damage to the engine. Now, over time the oil will begin deteriorate due to the heat inside the engine and the collection of contaminents, as a result, your engine will eventually require an oil change.
Some of the most common signs which show that an oil change needs to be made include a change in the oil’s colour, and the oil’s consistency being thicker or gritty. Synthetic oils tend to last a lot longer than mineral oils due to the fact that synthetic oils have been adapted to be more suitable for use in a car’s engine while on the other hand, mineral oils are completely natural.
A dirty engine can hide many different problems
What Is Engine Sludge?
Engine sludge is a result of contaminated oil or faulty parts and as a result, it can cause a lot of damage. If you notice engine sludge it is incredibly important that you deal with the issue as soon as possible. Refusing to have this dealt with early on can lead to the entire engine needing to be replaced; something which can be incredibly expensive to have done.
The simplest way to check if there is engine sludge is to remove the oil cap from your engine and check under it. If you notice that the remnants of oil feel somewhat sludgy or gel like or it has a gritty feel, the chances are that you may have engine sludge. Again, it’s important that you have this dealt with quickly to prevent any further potential damage to your car.
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