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
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
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
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