How To Pick The Right Motor Oil For Your Car
Choosing the correct motor oil for your car might seem daunting but the best way to start is by checking out the starburst symbol that indicates the oil has been tested and meets the standards of the American Petroleum Institute (API). In addition, there’s a 2-character service designation on the container. API’s latest service standard is “SL.” SL refers to a group of laboratory and engine tests, including the latest series for control of high-temperature deposits. Your third task is to pick the viscosity (thickness) that’s suitable for the temperatures your vehicle normally operates in (check your owners manual), and you’re done. Well, not quite. There’s a whole lot more to the story than that.
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If you are still unsure what oil you should use try reading this next article for reference by Auto How Stuff Works.
Choosing the Right Type of Motor Oil
Often times a manufacturer will suggest two or more motor oil viscosities for an engine, such as a 5W-20 or 5W-30, based on several different factors — including temperature. The reason for this is that engines often need a different viscosity based on operating conditions. Knowing how scientists see viscosity will help an owner determine the best oil for the engine.
Viscosity, at its most basic, is a fluid’s resistance to flow. Within the engine oil world, viscosity is notated with the common “XW-XX.” The number preceding the “W” rates the oil’s flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 degrees Celsius). The “W” stands for winter, not weight as many people think. The lower the number here, the less it thickens in the cold. So 5W-30 viscosity engine oil thickens less in the cold than a 10W-30, but more than a 0W-30. An engine in a colder climate, where motor oil tends to thicken because of lower temperatures, would benefit from 0W or 5W viscosity. A car in Death Valley would need a higher number to keep the oil from thinning out too much.
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