Every vehicle owner gets to that crossroad where their vehicle’s engine oil needs to be changed. You either choose to hire a mechanic or do it yourself. If you want to do it yourself, you will be faced with several options of the engine oil to use which begs the question, which oil to go for and why should you go for it? If your mechanic would be recommending one, you still want to know why you should trust his judgment.
What is the engine oil?
Oil is the engine’s blood. Just as the blood is important to man, so is the oil to your engine and your car invariably. An engine oil is a lubricant used to reduce friction in internal combustion engines.
All types of vehicle engines incorporate metal parts which rub against each other as long as the engine is working. This causes friction which creates stress, wear and heat in the engine. An engine oil reduces this friction by providing a cushion, forming a lubricating coating between the moving parts, thus allowing them to slide past one another freely. The amount of heat and wear generated is thereby reduced.
Types of engine oils.
You are faced with several options, such as brands of oil and types of oil. There are four types of oil to choose from or majorly three types of oil. The most common three are mineral oil (also known as conventional oil), synthetic oil and Semi-synthetic oil. When you add high mileage oil to that, you have the four types of oil.
The mineral oil is your regular motor oil manufactured from refined crude oil. It contains different additives and several processes are done to improve its viscosity and engine protective properties. This type of oil is recommended for drivers with simple engine designs and regular driving styles. The good thing is that it is an extremely budget friendly option.
The synthetic oils are chemically engineered in a factory, or lab. The oil molecules are more uniform in shape with fewer impurities, higher performing additives and better properties than mineral oil. Synthetic oil is the best for your engine. It is more consistent and the manufacturing process is easier to control since all materials to be used needs to be held to much more stringent standards. They also perform better at extreme ends of the temperature spectrum, be it high or low but it is also the most expensive.
Using synthetic oil does not mean that you can go longer between oil changes. The synthetic oil contains detergents and other chemicals that deteriorate over time, lowering the oil’s effectiveness. All oils irrespective of brand or type should be changed at usual intervals.
The semi-synthetic oil is a hybrid of synthetic and mineral oil for added resistance to oxidation in comparison to mineral oil, at the same time it provides excellent low-temperature properties for your engine. It lasts longer than mineral oils but not as long as synthetic oils. It captures some of the benefits of the two while reducing their disadvantages. Although it is not as good as a synthetic oil. It is a bit more expensive than mineral oils but not as expensive as synthetic oils.
The high mileage oils are a unique branch of oil that is entirely on its own. It is specially formulated for older vehicles or high mileage engines. It has a unique blend of additives and formulation which are designed to protect engine seals, this helps to reduce burn-off of engine oil and as a result helps to prevent oil leaks that may occur in older or high mileage engines. This improves overall performance.
Why is the engine oil important to your engine?
The engine oil is very important to your engine because it acts as a lubricant and coolant to your engine. Remember that the engines contains metal parts that constantly rub against each other as long as the engine is working. Without lubrication there would be wear and tear, a surface that ought to be smooth would have marks. It would be impossible to prevent these marks with lubricant.
Friction generates heat, one the things the oil reduces friction between moving parts to its minimum so that power loss is minimized, it does this by giving the metal surfaces something to slide over so they are not in contact. Also asides the heat generated by friction, the explosion that occurs in the engine during combustion generates a lot of heat that needs to be cooled to an extent, without enough cooling the engine would overheat, in extreme cases the piston would melt into the block.
The oil absorbs heat from the hot moving parts and transfer it to the surrounding air through the crankcase. While cooling occurs when the oil is in the sump, cooling also occurs in other parts of the engine as well. As oil travels through the engine to reach the sump, it is going to go over areas which are cooler, so the oil will give up heat as it flows over. Once inside the sump, it doesn’t stay there long, but does give up heat through the sump pan.
Aside lubricating and cooling the engine, the oil also acts as a suitable cushion for the engine when it is subjected to shocks. The oil also has the ability to operate as a cleaning agent. Many contaminants, such as carbon particles, are carried away during its circulation. The oil also helps the piston rings in maintaining an effective seal against the cylinder’s high pressure gases, preventing leakage.
Which engine oil is best for your car?
Which oil is best for your car? You can get lost in all the oil jargon at this point, and start to worry about the consequences of putting the wrong oil in your engine. In actuality, after you have grasped the concept of an engine and engine oil, you will find out that finding the appropriate oil for your engine is actually straightforward and not as complicated as you thought.
You must have heard the word ‘viscosity’ a lot whenever there is a discussion about engine oil. What is viscosity?
The viscosity of your oil is a measurement of its resistance to flow. Oil with a high viscosity opposes motion because it has a lot of internal friction while that of low viscosity moves readily because its molecular nature causes very little friction.
The viscosity of an oil is indicated by huge numbers on the bottle, such as 5W-30 or 10W-40. It is loosely characterized as the oil’s ‘flow ability’. Thin oil has a low viscosity, whereas thick oil has a high viscosity.
Before manufacturers started producing multi-viscosity oil, there was only single-viscosity oil, which in cold weather was extremely thick. Try imagining pouring honey into your engine, does not sound too correct, right? That is exactly how it would feel like when you pour single-viscosity oil into your engine in a cold weather. More importantly it would be hard to pump the oil and lubricate the engine. That is why older engines had to be warmed up before you could drive them.
The oil inside your engine needs to be thin enough to flow and lubricate all of the internal components when you start your engine. It also must stay viscous enough to lubricate properly while the engine is running, even when it is idling in traffic.
In conclusion, engine oil is necessary for the optimal working of your vehicle. Using the appropriate engine oil and regularly changing it will extend the life of your vehicle’s engine. Always follow your vehicle owner’s manual to determine the correct motor oil specification, viscosity grade, and oil drain interval for your engine. You should also never forget to change your oil filter whenever you change your oil.