What Kind of Oil Does My Car Need

Climate Can Affect Oil Choice


There are a number of things that you'll need to consider when you're asking yourself, "What kind of oil does my car need?" While there is typically only one type of oil that you are supposed to use in your engine, as defined in your user manual, sometimes you also need to consider climate conditions where you live as well.

First, Check Your Owner's Manual


Of course, the very first place you should always check first to determine what kind of engine oil your car needs is the owner's manual of your car. The manual will have an entire maintenance section with instructions on how to check and change the fluids throughout your engine, and there is where you'll find the suggested oil type for your specific engine. Under most conditions, you should never stray from using the type of oil that's recommended in the manual.

Most Manufacturers Suggest 5W30


Of all engine oil types, 5W30 is the most commonly recommended by car manufacturers. This is because 5W30 has the viscosity that the engine needs in order to avoid wear and tear during normal operation. Normal operation is usually considered to be under specific temperature (climate) and operating conditions. It's important to keep in mind that when your situation is non-standard, you may need to consider slightly different oil than the type recommended in the owner's manual.

10W30 Used in Winter Climates


In much colder climates, many people switch over to using engine oil that's rated 10W30. This type of oil typically changes viscosity depending on the temperature, and it does so in a way that keeps your engine lubricated even during cold engine starts in the middle of winter when outside temperatures are quite cold. This is because the normal viscosity of this oil is thicker and more resistant to cold - providing your engine with lubrication at start up, and then thinning to 5W30 type viscosity as the engine warms. This leads to much less wear and tear on your engine.

There Are Many Types of Oil


There are also many other types of engine oils on the market, each tailored for specific engine types. Diesel fueled engines have entirely different lubrication systems, and smaller engines with one or two cylinders require much different types of oil with varying viscosity characteristics. This is why it's always important to check your owner's manual and be certain what type of oil the manufacturer recommends before you ever put any type of oil into your engine at all.

Consider Using Synthetic Oil


Whether you opt for 5w30 or 10w30 for your gasoline engine, when you go to purchase the oil you'll be faced with another decision - should you buy synthetic oil or not. Synthetic oils typically last longer than regular oil, and for that benefit they usually cost a bit more. Synthetic oils are safe to use in place of regular (as long as it's the same type), but manufacturers recommend never mixing synthetic and non-synthetic because it can affect the viscosity in ways that can actually damage your engine.

Change Your Oil Filter


Whenever you change your engine oil (or get it changed at a garage), always make sure to change your oil filter as well. An oil filter helps your oil maintain its ability to protect your engine by remaining clean of particulates that can have a negative effect on its performance. A new oil filter each time you change your oil insures that the new oil you've placed in your engine will be more effective and last well into your next scheduled oil change.

Dispose of Oil Appropriately


If you change the oil yourself, make sure to store the used oil in an airtight, safe container that won't spill. Contact your town and find out when the scheduled "hazardous waste" day is - a day when the town accepts engine oil and other waste that gets appropriately disposed of according to State and Federal laws.

For more information about maintaining your car, check out:

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What Kind of Oil Does My Car Need