Choosing The Right Oil For Your Vehicle

The choice of oil for your engine can be a difficult one, as there seems to be no shortage of conventional oils, synthetics and synthetic blends to choose from.

What, exactly, do the letters and numbers represent? Here’s the breakdown on what each is, and how can you find the right match for your engine?

According Valvoline, oil codes can help you choose the right fluid for your vehicle. The “W” stands for winter; the number preceding the “W” refers to a cold weather viscosity.

The lower the number, the less viscous oil will be at low temperatures. A 5W- motor oil flows better at colder temperatures than 15W- oils in the same conditions.

The numbers after the “W” refers to the oil’s viscosity at hot temperatures. The higher the number, the thicker the oil at a specified temperature.

Check the vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your driving conditions. Or ask your service advisor for help choosing the right product.

Why is it so important to use the recommended oil?

Valvoline offers the following insight on the basics of engine oil.

  • High mileage engines. Oil designed for a high-mileage engine has more viscosity, thickness, than conventional. The thicker fluid compensate for wear and tear on the engine. For example, older vehicles have more space between bearings.
  • Manufacturer recommendations. Not all engines can accommodate different oil types. Some specifically call for certain viscosity. Check your owner’s manual for manufacturer suggestions.
  • Routine maintenance. Regular oil changes can help wring every last mile out of your engine. It’s an inexpensive way to keep your vehicle running in top performance.
  • Oil grades and performance. An oil with a heavier than recommended grade could lower your fuel economy and shorten engine life. Using an oil with a lighter than recommended grade could result in excessive wear and tear on your engine.
  • Synthetic oil comes from conventional oil. The base of synthetic oil is crude oil, which is distilled and refined before specifically engineered chemical compounds are added.
  • Synthetic oil evaporates slower than conventional oil, and offers resistance to oxidation, thermal breakdown and the formation of engine sludge.