Engine oil is critical to keeping your car running well. Regular oil changes keep your engine in good shape and help avoid unnecessary wear and tear. But when your mechanic asks what kind of engine oil you want, you might not be sure how to answer.
In this post, we’ll discuss the different types of engine oil, and how to know which is best for your car.
Let’s dive in.
Conventional vs. Synthetic Oil
First things first, let’s talk about the differences between synthetic and conventional oil. While they’re both derived from crude oil, synthetic oil is manufactured with fewer impurities. That means it’s less susceptible to breaking down over time. While conventional oil lasts for about 5,000 miles, full synthetic oil can last for up to 10,000 miles between changes.
If you’d like, you can also opt for synthetic blends. These blends are more affordable and provide extra protection for your engine. Still, they don’t perform at the same level as a true, full synthetic oil.
Understanding Oil Weight
If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of engine oil, you’ve likely noticed a few numbers on the bottle. But what do they mean, and how do you choose between 5W-30 and 5W-20?
Here’s a brief breakdown:
5W-20 vs. 5W-30
The two most common types of auto oil are 5W-30 and 5W-20. The “20” and “30” in these numbers indicate oil weight.
These oils are the standard in the automotive industry because they’re designed to be compatible with most engines. Additionally, both oils are ideal for a range of temperatures. Generally, though, 5W-20 tends to be better in colder climates, while 5W-30 is better suited for warm temperatures or hot climates.
The main difference between these two oils is that 5W-20 will help increase fuel efficiency slightly. Because it is thinner in texture, it creates less drag in the engine, making for more streamlined operation. 5W-30, meanwhile, is ideal for hot climates, since it’s less likely to break down under high temperatures.
How Frequently to Check and Change Your Engine Oil
Since ample oil levels are so important to your car’s operation, we recommend checking your oil at least once a month. Fortunately, this is an easy process. Always check your owner’s manual and follow automaker recommendations when it comes to checking your oil.
From there, park your car on level ground, open the hood, and remove the dipstick. With the car’s engine turned off, remove the dipstick and wipe any oil away from its end. Push the dipstick back into the car and remove it once more. Look at the line of the oil on the dipstick to ensure it’s in the car’s “safe” zone.
If your car’s oil level is low or you’ve noticed your vehicle leaking or burning oil, contact your local auto maintenance shop immediately.