Types of Engine Oil
When it's time to get an oil change, what type of engine oil should you use for your vehicle? There are four main types of engine oil changes to consider.
1. Full Synthetic Oil Change: Synthetic engine oil is created using man-made, precisely controlled materials. Additives are used to increase the lubricant's performance, which are generally non-conventional, high-performance fluids. Synthetic engine oils contain only smooth lubricating molecules, which means:
- they're more effective at reducing friction, offering better fuel economy.
- they provide lower volatility – the tendency of an oil to break down at extreme temperatures – for decreased oil consumption.
- they flow through your engine easier, which makes for easier start-ups at very cold temperatures.
- they reduce engine deposits – the "by-products" of engine combustion
- they offer greater viscosity (the "thickness" of an oil) at very high temperatures.
- they're more stable, meaning it will hold up for a longer period of time.
Synthetic oil tends to be the most expensive of all oils because of their benefits over conventional oil. It may cost a little more, but you'll need oil changes less frequently, and possibly save money over time. We recommend synthetic engine oils for newer, high-performance vehicles.
2. Synthetic Blend Oil Change: Synthetic blend engine oils use non-conventional, high-performance fluid additives blended with conventional engine oil. That chemical blend provides added resistance to oxidation and enhances low-temperature properties. Synthetic blend oil also protects against:
- stop-and-go traffic
- cold start-ups
- long engine running times
- fluctuating or extreme temperatures
We recommend synthetic blend oil changes for cars, trucks, vans and SUVs that regularly carry heavy loads, tow trailers and/or operate frequently at high RPMs.
3. High-Mileage Oil Change: High-mileage engine oil is a special chemical blend of oils and additives that's designed to extend the life of higher mileage vehicles. More mileage equals more wear on your engine. High-mileage engines demand a powerful concoction that will protect against:
- oil burn-offs
- engine leaks
- engine deposit build-up
We recommend high-mileage engine oils for vehicles with more than 75,000 miles on the odometer, especially if they're driven an above-average number of miles, generally more than 15,000, per year.
4. Conventional Oil Change: Also known as mineral oil, conventional engine oil is made from crude oil pulled from the ground and processed at a refinery. The product is a base oil that's combined with additives to enhance:
- engine protection properties
- heat breakdown capabilities
- viscosity (the thickness and fluidity of the oil)
Conventional oil is typically the least expensive of all oils. It's a basic oil that doesn't have the special additives to make it more durable and long-lasting. We don't typically recommend conventional oil since it doesn't offer the added benefits that synthetic oils do. Always check your owner's guide to see which oil your manufacturer recommends.
Engine Oil Grades
There are also different grades of engine oils that classify oil by its viscosity at different temperatures. The grades are rated as follows. "W" stands for "winter" and the numbers stand for the low and high temperatures at which the oil can still protect the engine:
- 5W-30 for an average low below 0 degrees Fahrenheit
- 10W-30 and 10W40 for average low above 0 degrees Fahrenheit
- 20W-50 for average low temperatures exceeding 20 degrees Fahrenheit
- SAE-30 for an average low above 40 degrees Fahrenheit
- SAE-40 for an average low above 60 degrees Fahrenheit
What Type of Engine Oil Should I Use?
It's always safe to follow your owner's manual for motor oil recommendations or ask an expert, like a Levin Tire advisor. If you've been using conventional engine oil and are interested in switching to synthetic or synthetic blend engine oil and your car is still under warranty, make sure your warranty covers the use of all engine oils before you make the switch.
No matter which type of engine oil you use, it is important to have your oil changed regularly. The standard recommended interval for an oil change is every three months, or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. The time frame can vary depending on the type of engine, type of oil used, driving habits and climate. Check your manufacturer's recommendations for specific instructions about how often to change your vehicle's oil.
At Levin Tire, we always use high-quality Valvoline oil. We offer synthetic, synthetic blend, and high-mileage oil varieties. If you're due for an oil change, give us a call or stop in. There's no appointment necessary.