What Oil is Best for Your Vehicle?

You stop for gas. You check the oil in your car. You need to add a quart. You go inside the convenience store. You find several options. You leave because you don’t know which one is right for your vehicle.

You go to your local oil change place. You’re asked if you want synthetic oil. You hear the difference in price, and say no immediately. You’re uncertain if you did the right thing.

If you’ve ever been in one of these situations, this blog post is for you.

Every type of oil has a different purpose related to the type of engine, the age of your vehicle, and the climate in which you drive. You might be surprised to know that over the course of time, it might be less expensive and more beneficial to switch to synthetic oil. Here is what you need to know about the different types of motor oils that might help you determine which type is best for your vehicle.

Decoding the label

Look at the label on the oil. There’s usually a number, followed by a W, followed by another number, like 5W-20 or 10W-40. The first number refers to the viscosity rating of the oil, which refers to its ability to flow in colder temperatures. The second number is the weight of the oil in warmer temperatures.

What does this mean to you? Unless you live in an area where temperatures reach extremes, then all you need to do is match the numbers on the bottle with the numbers on your oil filler cap. If your oil filler cap doesn’t have numbers on it, refer to your owner’s manual. This would be unusual, but if your filler cap was replaced, it’s possible.

Your owner’s manual may have a chart with oil recommendations based on temperature ranges, similar to the chart below. If it does, use the oil recommended for the temperatures you drive in most frequently according to the chart in your manual.

Synthetic versus Conventional Motor Oil

Your owner’s manual may have a recommendation here as well. Many modern cars require synthetic oil, and if so, you should follow that requirement in your owner’s manual. If there is no requirement for synthetic oil, you still may want to consider it.

Although synthetic oil is more expensive than conventional oil, it offers better protection for your car’s engine, potentially prolonging engine life. Synthetic oil:

  • Provides better protection from extreme temperatures.
  • Prevents deposits and sludge build-up better than conventional oil.
  • Reduces break down when towing or hauling heavy loads.
  • Requires less frequent changes.
  • Can extend the life of your older vehicle.

If you tend to take shorter trips or do a lot of in town driving, synthetic oil is the better choice. Conventional motor oil may not get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities.

Switching from conventional to synthetic motor oil will not harm your vehicle, but it is important to stay with the same viscosity and weight. Regardless of which route you choose to go, it is important to get your oil changed as recommended and periodically check your oil level to ensure that your engine is lubricated properly.