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How to Choose the Right Oil for You

How to Choose the Right Oil for You

Not all oil is created equal. So how do you determine the best fit for your vehicle?

Your vehicle’s manufacturer should specify the recommended viscosity of oil for your vehicle in the owner’s manual. The recommended viscosity is usually printed on the oil cap under the hood as well. Viscosity represents the thickness of the oil as measured by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) during hot and cold temperature testing. Viscosity is represented by a number followed by a letter followed by another number; for example, 5W-30 and 5W-20 are common viscosities. The first number is the oil’s viscosity in cold temperatures. The cold weight is thinner to allow for easier start-ups and less strain on the engine during cold temperatures. The second number is the oil’s viscosity when warm and is typically a heavier (or thicker) oil to provide better protection at higher temperatures. The “W” paired with the first viscosity designates an oil that is certified by the SAE for low temperature use.

The necessary viscosity of your oil varies from car to car, but most cars can handle multi-viscosity oil. A one-size-fits-most for automotive engines, multi-viscosity oil passes SAE specifications for thin oils at low temperatures and thick oils at high temperatures. However, older cars benefit from thicker or heavier oil, as the thicker oil helps condition seals and decrease friction as parts of the engine wear. Oil viscosity is listed on the bottle. Oils are also listed by grade; the higher the grade number, the higher the viscosity. Manufacturers also recommend certain oil grades for certain vehicles. 

Engine Oil Choices

Once you’ve determined the recommended viscosity for your vehicle, it’s time to choose the type of oil. The most common oil types are conventional, synthetic blend, and synthetic. Sears Auto Center carries Valvoline® Conventional, MaxLife®, and SynPower®, all with the Valvoline Engine GuaranteeSM. Conventional oils are organic and more limited in their capabilities. They are highly reactive to temperatures. Synthetic oils, on the other hand, are entirely man-made. They have fewer impurities, more additives and provide better engine performance. Synthetic blend oils are exactly as they sound – a blend of conventional and synthetic oil. While synthetic oil can be on the pricier side, synthetic blends are more affordable and still offer more performance enhancement than conventional oil. Again, you’ll want to check your owner’s manual to see if the vehicle’s manufacturer recommends a type of oil. Some cars leave the factory lot with synthetic oil, so manufacturers will recommend synthetic oil moving forward.

While you’ll get nothing but increased performance using better oil than the manufacturer’s recommendation, using a lesser oil can result in damage to your engine. Consult your vehicle’s manual and ask one of our expert technicians to help determine the best oil for your vehicle. Check out the oil services we offer and schedule your next service today.

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