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Best Motor Oil For The Money  
Everything You Need to Know to Get a Great Motor Oil at a Great Price
Top Five for the Money (Based on our Frugal5 Formula)
How do we pick these products? We spend many hours doing unbiased research to only give you the highest rated products at the best price. We first come up with a list of features, which you can see below, that we feel the majority of people will need. We then look for the highest quality products with these features and only show you the top five with the best value. Our mission is to provide you with the best five options based only on the facts. Don't see the product you were thinking about getting? Click here to calculate it's frugal score.
Valvoline Nextgen ConventionalRoyal Purple 36530 HPS SyntheticPennzoil 550022686 Platinum Full SyntheticMobil 1 98HC63 SyntheticValvoline SynPower Full Synthetic
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Product Rating
Average Price
Average ($33)
Average ($46)
Average ($57)
Average ($51)
Average ($45)
Frugal5 Score
Features Needed
API Rating Symbol
Features Not Needed
Excessive Additives
Store Brand or No Name
Zinc and Phosphorous Additives for Older Vehicles
What You Need To Know In 5 Minutes

There are many different brands and types of motor oil, with numbers, letters, and words like synthetic, additives, long life, and high efficiency. The task of choosing the right oil for your car can be daunting. After all, motor oil is the life blood of your car's engine. Without the oil, your pistons, tappets and other moving components of your motor would seize up or burn out. In a nut shell, most vehicles take one of the following four types of motor oil, depending on what your car's manufacturer's handbook suggests. Premium Conventional oil is a standard light weight oil commonly used in most everyday vehicles; Full Synthetic which is the standard oil for most sports cars, is made for peak performance of high tech engines; Synthetic blend for SUV's and trucks which is an oil made to perform well under heavy loads and higher temperatures; and the final one is higher mileage oils which are made for vehicles over 70,000 miles and older vehicles. They contain seal conditioners and have a higher viscosity rating.

API certification.The API (American Petroleum Institute) is the testing body for quality. Ratings for the oil quality, based on whether the vehicle is gas or diesel. The API service symbol will appear somewhere on the packaging and will contain four pieces of information. The top of the circle will state API Service followed by two letters, the bottom should say Energy Conserving, and in the center of the circle the letters SAE and the viscosity rating of the oil (ie 10W30). The SAE rating on the service symbol is another inspection body, the Society of Automotive Engineers. This rating is for the grade and viscosity of the oil. If this symbol does not appear on the packaging anywhere then it is not API certified. Additives to an extent are good. Additives like sealants or others which breakdown the sludge build up are recommended for higher mileage and older vehicles

Excessive additives are a bad thing. The old adage of too much of a good thing can be a bad thing rings true with motor oil. 

The viscosity grade is the two numbers separated by a W on the front of the bottle. The W stands for winter, not weight as most would assume. The numbers are based on cold temperature viscosity vs warm temperature viscosity of the oil. Lower viscosity oil moves faster, higher viscosity moves slower. In winter, 5W20 or 5W30 are the generally recommended viscosity and the 10W20 or 10W30 is recommended viscosity for the summer weather. All motor oils must pass certain inspection guidelines.  Finally, motor oil does expire. Generally a motor oil's shelf life is between three and five years. This is based on the oils formulation and the storage of the product. Ideally, motor oil should be stored at a constant temperature of 68 F or 20 C. Beware of oils containing fake API ratings symbols. Also for older vehicles going for a viscosity of --W40 or higher is better for the valve train of the car. These oils contain more phosphorous and zinc, additives that have recently been reduced by regulators. These oils are not considered fuel efficient, but will save the life of your motor.

Top brand names include Valvoline, Pennzoil, Castrol, Mobil1, and Royal Purple. Brands to stay away from are no name or store brand oils as they may not have passed the API ratings.

When looking for the right oil for you, it is always important to follow the manufacturer guide lines for your vehicle. The five top choices for me are Valvoline NextGen conventional, Pennzoil, Royal Purple HPS with Additive, Valvoline Syn Power Full Synthetic, and Valvoline 179 Maxlife

Features You Need
API Rating Symbol, SAE
Features You Don't Need
Excessive Additives, Store Brand or No Name, Zinc and Phosphorous Additives for Older Vehicles
What You Should Pay
Between $32.89 - $56.94
Top Of The Line Price
Over $80.00