What Kind of Oil Does My Car Need

Thinking to yourself, "What kind of oil does my car need?" It's a serious question given the important role oil plays. Motor oil is responsible for lubrication, heat protection and corrosion resistance. Little wonder then, that you can extend the life of your car's engine with the right motor oil.

What Kind Of Oil Does My Car Need To Run Its Best?
It can be overwhelming to shop for motor oil-the shelves are lined with bottles, each with an arcane list of types, specifications and service levels. Here's how to sort through the confusion:

  • Look it up. Your car's owner's manual or service manual will specify the type of oil you should put in your car. Don't have a manual? Most car companies have online versions available for cars produced in the last 10 years or so. Most are available free, with others charging a small fee.
  • A weighty subject. The viscosity of motor oil (sometimes called its weight) is a measure of how easily oil flows at a given temperature. Lower numbers indicate oils that flow easily at lower temperatures, while higher numbers indicate oils that perform better under high heat conditions. Although most modern cars require 5W viscosity (the "W" stands for winter grade), cars in hotter environments might use a 10W viscosity. Cars driven in extremely cold temperatures may even use 0W oil.
  • Special purpose oils. Oil companies provide different types of oils for different engines and vehicles. Some examples include: synthetic oils-good for high performance engines, synthetic blend oils-suitable for use in trucks and SUVs and high-mileage oils-formulated for older engines with 75,000 miles or more.
  • It's oil, not magic. Regardless of the type of oil you put in your car, it's important to change the oil regularly. An oil change interval of 3,000 to 5,000 miles will insure your car has clean oil and will give a service technician a chance to inspect your vehicle regularly.
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