Making sure you have the right type of oil for your car is vital to keeping your engine running smoothly. If the oil isn’t compatible with the car’s levels, it can lead to poor performance and even engine failure, which is the last thing you want. So when you’re buying motor oil, make sure you know that the oil type and viscosity are compatible with your engine.
The best way to do this is to check your owner’s manual. The manual will give you examples of the best types of oil for your car including oil type and viscosity, and it might even have suggestions for the best oils in various temperatures. Use this as a guide, but recognize that the right type of oil might vary slightly from the manual.
You can identify the type of oil by the American Petroleum Institute symbols on the bottle. The API donut indicates the performance level, viscosity, and energy saving potential of the oil. You can also make sure you’re getting the right oil by checking for the S or C symbol, which indicates whether the oil is made for gas (service) or diesel (commercial) engines.
There are four different oil types: conventional, semi-synthetic, full-synthetic, and high-mileage. Each has their uses, and your manual should indicate which is better for your car, but in some cases you may have to use your judgment. For instance, if your car has over 75,000 miles, you may want to use high-mileage oil, but not necessarily.
Oil viscosity is the number you’re usually familiar with, usually written as a number like 5W-30. Viscosity is measured by ability of oil to flow at 0-degrees and 212-degrees Fahrenheit. Colder oil is thicker and warm thinner, so additives are added to keep the thickness consistent.
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