Auto parts stores carry a bewildering array of oils. If you haven't chosen a replacement oil for your car before, then the wide selection can make the process seem overwhelming and stressful. Between different brands, different weights, and confusing terms, it can seem like oil selection is a minefield fraught with the potential to make a poor choice.
Fortunately, choosing the right oil for your car is not nearly as intimidating as it may seem at first glance. Below you will find some information to help you navigate the oil change world so that you can keep your vehicle correctly lubricated and maintained.
Understanding Oil Weights
The first and arguably most crucial choice when choosing an oil is the weight or viscosity. The two numbers prominently displayed on any oil container tell you the weight of the oil under two conditions: warm weather and cold weather. The higher the number, the thicker the oil. A lower number before the "W" tells you that the oil is less viscous in cold weather conditions.
In most cases, you should stick to your manufacturer's recommended weight. Check your owner's manual to determine your manufacturer's recommendations. If you don't have your manual or you can't find this information, then there may be a sticker under the hood or near your oil filter. If all else fails, consider calling the dealership to ask for recommendations.
While thinner oils typically provide better lubrication, a higher oil weight can improve pressure and protect worn components. For these reasons, some people choose to switch to a higher weight oil as their vehicle ages. If you drive a higher-mileage vehicle, then it may be worth considering a switch to a high mileage formulation or a higher viscosity oil.
Selecting Special Oils
Aside from the viscosity, you may notice oils with qualifiers such as "high mileage" or "extended performance" on your store shelves. In general, these special oil types offer relatively minor differences from standard oil. These are the three most common special oil types you will find in most stores:
- High Mileage: High mileage oils usually offer slightly higher viscosity than normal oils. Selecting a high-mileage blend may offer marginally better protection even if the weight rating is roughly the same.
- Extended Performance: Extended performance oils allow you to go longer between oil changes. While you should still stick to your manufacturer's recommended oil change schedule, extended performance oils can offer some extra peace of mind if you often miss your change intervals.
- European Formula: European formula oils are designed specifically for European manufacturers, such as BMW or Volkswagen. In general, you only need to use these oils if your vehicle's manufacturer recommends them.
While a shelf full of many types of oil may seem intimidating at first glance, choosing the right oil is often merely a matter of following the recommendations in your vehicle owner's manual. Stick to your manufacturer's recommendation while changing your oil regularly, and you will rarely go wrong. Contact oil change services to learn more.