Engine Oil Checklist

Engine oil is a form of liquid lubricant used to reduce wear through friction in internal combustion engines. Many moving parts work in conjunction in internal combustion engines to continuously generate power. They work under extreme heat and friction, which can cause excessive stress on all the parts involved. 

It doesn’t take long for them to give out and stop working altogether if they keep working like that under friction. This is where engine oil comes into play; it provides the necessary lubrication to minimise the damage through friction and enable the moving parts to work freely.

Check out our article on Turbocharged Engine Maintenance for more maintenance tips.

Apart from lubrication, engine oil can be helpful in a variety of other different ways. Engine oil can also help dissipate the heat generated through combustion and maintain the engine temperature. Since engine oil has additives, it also helps keep the engine cleaner by removing dirt particle build-ups. Although small, it can also improve gas mileage indirectly. 

Insufficient lubrication means the engine will be inefficient, thus, increasing fuel consumption. Conversely, proper lubrication will make the engine run efficiently and increase fuel economy. Since the engine won’t wear down sooner with proper lubrication, it can also last a lot longer, essentially saving you the cost of replacing the engine entirely sooner. 

Here is a checklist of things you should be mindful of concerning engine oil:

Know When To Change Engine Oil

Now that you know why you should change engine oil, it’s time to tackle the question of when and how often? 

The recommended mileage for changing engine oil is specified in the owner’s manual of your vehicle. Mileage can vary greatly depending on the engine and vehicle type. So, you can rely on the manual for an easy answer.

There are many ways to increase fuel efficiency, check them out in this article.

Changing faster than recommended doesn’t hurt your vehicle, but it can certainly hurt your wallet.

Change Regularly

If you fail to change the engine oil on time properly, your engine will suffer the consequences. So, you need to keep a mental note of the last time you changed your engine oil. If you don’t already have a monthly or other sorts of regularly scheduled maintenance plan ready, it’s good to do so.

While you’re at it, also change the oil filter. New oil won’t be as good as an old oil filter, so have it replaced; besides, it is quite inexpensive.

Engine Oil Grade and Viscosity

man refilling engine oil on car engine bay

Engine oil is marked with a certain numeric string which denotes its viscosity(thickness). This system was introduced by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

When heated, oils go through expansion and thin out. Thin oils reduce friction much better than thick oils, and it leads to less energy wasted and higher power produced efficiently, which ultimately increases fuel economy. However, keep in mind that if the oil is too thin, it can lose its lubricating property and become somewhat useless.

There are two types of oil grades: single-grade and multi-grade.

Single Grade Oil

Single-grade oil was the first and only type of viscosity grade. SAE graded single-grade oil in 11 different weight viscosity grades.

Take, for example, the SAE 30. If a person were to use SAE 30 engine oil in their vehicle, it would have to heat up properly for it to work efficiently. However, this wasn’t easy in colder temperatures because the oil would be too thick to even start the engine.

Later, single-grade oil could retain its viscosity index and thin up more slowly due to breakthroughs in oil additive technology. This allowed for performance measurements in cold and hot temperatures and made the oil more usable.

Multi-Grade Oil

On the other hand, multi-grade oil is usually mixed with special polymer additives called viscosity index improvers. This allowed the oil to have two different base viscosity grades, one when cold and the other when hot. Therefore, multi-grade oil is can be used all year round and is better than single-grade oil.

There is little to no difference in performance in normal temperatures while using either single-grade or multi-grade oil. Here, the thinness or thickness of the oil doesn’t change much in terms of performance. Thus, you can get away with using either type of oil grade.

However, suppose you live in an area where the temperature changes throughout the year, or you need to travel to areas with varying temperatures. In that case, multi-grade is undoubtedly the better choice. Multi-grade oil’s natural characteristics that allow it to perform differently depending on the temperature can provide necessary lubrication rapidly to the moving parts.

Mineral Vs Synthetic Engine Oil

The oldest and most conventional engine oil is mineral oil. They offer acceptable performance at the cheapest cost.

On the other hand, synthetic oil is created artificially with the help of chemical compounds. Compared to conventional mineral oil, they work better in every regard at, of course, higher prices. Synthetic oil offers better viscosity stability, less dirt buildup, less wear on parts and requires less frequent oil changes. All of this ultimately protects the engine’s lifespan and increases fuel economy.

It’s important to consider your vehicle’s specifications and refer to your owner’s manual to see which one works better.

Oil Additives

Oil additives are chemical compounds that can enhance the performance of engine oil in your vehicle. They can come in different types, like anti-wear, detergent, anti-rust, anti-foaming, viscosity modifiers, etc. Ultimately, their primary purpose is to work with your engine oil and improve your engine’s overall health.

Additives can help your engine oil’s performance by cleaning sludge deposits and impurities, degradation of the oil stock, avoiding the formation of foams and corrosion, coating the surface of engine parts to avoid oxidation of oil and so on.

Oil additives aren’t a must for all types of vehicles, but if you are running an old one or one with a lot of mileage, it’s good to use oil additives to make the vehicle last longer.