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Ten Things You Should Know About Your Car Engine Oil

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High viscosity car engine oil lubricant

About Your Car Engine Oil

Engine oil is what keeps your car engine alive. A dig back in time brings out some pleasant memories of engine oil. Dr. John Elias was hugely disappointed while studying the medicinal benefits of crude oil.

But he was intrigued by its potential lubricating properties, so much so he eventually abandoned his medical practice and devoted his time to develop an all petroleum, high viscosity lubricant. He made a breakthrough when he produced oil that worked efficiently at high temperatures. Thus, the legend of was born.

Oiling your car engine keeps it cleaner, extends its useful lifetime, lowers vehicle emissions, gives better gas mileage and optimizes the engine’s performance. These days, people are more bothered about the fancy and fast cars and not about the workings of it. It pays to know more about the underlying car mechanisms. With this goal in mind, we bring you the ten things that you should know about your car engine oil.

What is engine oil?

Engine oil is lubricant oil which helps the key components to move. It is found in an internal combustion engine. The oil is made from two main elements, the base stock, protective and performance additives. The base stock usually makes up to 80% to 90% of the solution. It comes from either petroleum, synthetic chemical or a mixture of both.

The primary job of the base stock is lubricating the engine’s moving parts and removing built-up heat. The additives found in the engine oil, are responsible for controlling how thick and smooth the liquid is, and they also protect the engine parts against wear.

Why does my car engine need oil?

Engine oil serves a variety of purposes. Automobile engines have many moving parts. As these pieces move and rub against each other, the force of friction creates heat. Engine oil reduces the friction and the transference of associated heat. It acts as a lubricating agent between adjacent moving metal parts, such as crank, con rods, bearings, cylinders and even the turbocharger.

How does engine oil protect my engine?

When you insert the engine oil into an engine through the oil pan, it travels around specific parts that need frequent lubrication. These components include the engine oil pump, pickup tube, oil filter, the spurt holes, the pressure relief valve, galleries and the sump.

Firstly the oil coats the moving parts inside the engine itself. With enough lubrication the inner parts that come into contact with each other glide rather than collide. The gliding prevents loud noises and wear and tear due to excessive friction.

Secondly, engine oil also cleans debris and dust which can build up in working parts. This reason is why your car oil filter is an essential part of engines, which you’ll have to replace it regularly.

How to check the engine oil?

Most of the car engine will be enclosed in some cover. Toward the front, you’ll find the dipstick. When the engine is cold, take out the dipstick, and wipe it neatly. You’ll see minimum and maximum level markings at the end of the stick. Insert the dipstick back into the engine and remove it out again. Check the level of the oil in the engine. It should be proximate to the maximum than to the minimum. It’s okay if the engine oil is brown or black. Replace the dipstick and wash your hands.

How to add oil to my car’s engine?

When you check the oil, and it is a bit low, just add a bit more. Quarts of oil is cheap, and if you’re comfortable with the viscosity rating recommendation for your car, you can pick up the engine oil almost anywhere.

With a cold engine, you can use a dipstick to check your oil to see how low it is. Try to locate the oil cap on the top of the engine and gently unscrew it. With the help of a funnel add half of the bottle of oil. Wait for a couple of minutes then recheck the dipstick. Avoid overfilling the engine.

When the oil level is just below the maximum, screw the oil cap and make sure the dipstick is back in place.

When to change the engine oil?

“Regular oil changes keep your engine clean and lubricated. Neglecting oil changes cuts down the friction which can literally wear away parts of your engine, causing it to fail,” Emanuel Hilario, Ground Service Equipment Lead Mechanic for American Eagle Airlines tells The Weather Network.

Many modern cars can go 8,047 or 16,093 km between oil changes. This depends on the model and how you drive. Most people won’t go wrong with an 8,047 km or 5000-mile interval between changes.

If your daily commute involves lots of driving, then you might want to change your engine oil little sooner. With so much metal moving around some manufacturers recommend an oil change after you’ve covered 1000 km with your new car.

What is oil viscosity?

The resistance to flow is called viscosity. It is the measure of how smoothly the oil flows or is it thick or thin. The Society for Automobile Engineers tests all oils at 210 degrees Fahrenheit which is the typical engine operating temperature. The SAE gives the oil a rating from 20 to 60.

Motor oil thins out as it gets heated and thickens as it gets cooled. The right additives help it to resist thinning too much. The thicker engine oil seals better and maintains a better film of lubrication for the moving parts. At colder temperatures, the oil has to be resistant to thickening because its flow must be agile to all the moving parts in your engine.

Excessive thickness of engine oil can make it harder to start the engine, which reduces fuel economy. Experts recommend 5W engine oil for winter use. Synthetic oils tend to flow effortlessly even in cold temperatures.

What’s important is that you must go in for the oil viscosity that your car owner’s manual recommends. A trusted mechanic may also help you to choose the right oil.

How to choose between conventional and synthetic motor oils?

Premium Conventional Oil

It is the regular new car oil. For lower temperatures, the car makers specify a 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil. For higher ambient temperatures 10W-30 oil is recommended as optional. These three ratings cover just about every light-duty vehicle on the road.

Fully-Synthetic Oil

The oils manufactured for high tech engines like Mercedes-Benz or Chevy Corvette are full synthetics. They have superior, long-lasting performance in all the essential areas of protection against deposits to viscosity index. They circulate better at lower temperatures and maintain peak lubricity at higher temperatures. They are a bit expensive.

Synthetic Blend Oil

They have a blend of synthetic oil and organic oil. The synthetic blend oil is formulated to give protection for heavier loads and higher temperatures.

Higher Mileage Oil

If you have the idea of paying off your car and running the mileage into six figures then these oils are your best bet. They have somewhat higher viscosities and have more viscosity-index improvers in them. These engine oils have a higher dose of antiwear additives,and they try to slow down the wear process.

What are the Engine Oil Additives?

Use of additives improves and maintains the oil performance. The additives not only assist in preserving proper lubrication but also minimize sludge and varnish, and any damage from their formation. Here are the categories of primary additive ingredients: viscosity index improvers, detergents, dispersants, antiwear agents, friction modifiers, pour point depressants, antioxidants, foam inhibitors, and rust and corrosion inhibitors.

Why does engine oil deteriorate?

The car engine can be best compared to a torture chamber. As oil ages, it suffers thermal and mechanical degradation. High engine temperatures combine with combustion byproducts, moisture, corrosion, rust, engine wear particles and oxygen to produce sludge and varnish. Be known that short trips are the worst offenders as the engine never sufficiently warms up to burn away deposits in the engine oil.

Which is the best oil for my car?

Synthetic oil is superior to mineral oil in every way ranging from stability to protection, to thermal degradation to resistance. Due to these factors, it can prolong your car engine’s life too. If however, your engine is older the benefits of this cutting-edge oil may not be entirely realized. When in doubt just comply with your car manufacturer’s recommendations.

Conclusion: To optimize the performance of engine oils just follow this roundup: Check your engine oil at every other fill up, change the oil frequently, avoid overfilling your crankcase with oil, wipe the oil pan plug clean, consider adding oil coolers, last but not the least synthetic oil is always better.


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