Engine oil being poured into a car engine

Choosing the right engine oil for your car

Have you been bewildered by the range of engine oils available on the shelf? Looking along the different types, you my well feel baffled by the array of letters and numbers available.

In this article we look at:

  • Why there are so many different types of oil
  • Why you need to choose the right motor oil
  • How to choose the right engine oil for your vehicle

About modern motor oils

Most engine oils today are a long way from the oil that comes out of the ground. The vast majority of motor oils for modern cars are either fully synthetic or semi-synthetic oil.

Modern oils consist of a mixture of many ingredients including:

  • Detergents
  • Friction inhibitors
  • Antioxidants
  • Viscosity enhancers

Why are there so many types of engine oil?

Modern car manufacturers are constantly developing lower capacity, higher power, low emission engines. These efficiency improvements make the engine work harder and put more strain on the engine components. All of this means that effective lubrication of all the engine components becomes ever more critical.

As a result, oil companies have had to develop ever more complex and versatile engine oils to meet the increased demand for improved lubrication and to protect the engine of your car.

Every engine has its own specific needs. That’s why there are a huge variety of numbers and specifications on the labels of modern engine oil.

So what do they mean? Can you choose any oil for your engine? And how do you know which one to choose?

Why you need to choose the right engine oil

Quite simply, choosing the wrong type of oil could seriously damage your car’s engine over time.

For example, if your car requires 0W20 grade oil, and you use 15W40 (a thicker oil) this will not provide the right sort of lubrication for your car’s engine components. You may not notice right away, but the outcome will be cumulative damage as the oil negatively impacts the engine.

Certain kinds of engines are particularly sensitive to the type of oil they need. This is especially true of turbo engines. In these vehicles, the turbo will run at least 4 times the speed of the engine. This means it gets much hotter because of the increased friction, and that’s why it requires very specific oil to make sure it has the perfect level of lubrication.

How to choose the right engine oil for your vehicle

First and foremost, the best place to find out which motor oil is suitable for your car is in your vehicle handbook. A physical book if your vehicle is of a certain age, or a digital one you’ll find in the dashboard of your car.

If you don’t have a dashboard handbook, the reality is, physical car handbooks get lost, mislaid, misplaced. So what do you do if you can’t find your handbook?

Go online! You should be able to find an electronic copy of your handbook on the manufacturer’s website. Download, and print if you want a hard copy. Then dive in to find out exactly the specification of oil needed for your vehicle.

There are also some free tools online. We stock Duckhams engine oils in our workshop and you can also try using the oil finder tool on the Duckhams website. You’ll need to know the registration for your vehicle to get the information you need.

Engine oil lifespan

Motor oil has a finite useful lifespan. Eventually the oil running through your engine will start to degrade and need replacing.

If you think that your car needs an oil change then we can help. If you’re unsure whether your car needs an oil change, we can check this for you and also recommend the best oil for your vehicle.

Get in touch using our contact form or give us a call on either of these numbers: 0116 3190 118 or mobile 07850 881 911.

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