We all know how much motor oil is important for proper functioning of an internal combustion engine. It lubricates almost every moving part, reduces friction and the wear of the internals of the engine, and helps cool down the whole unit. And that is just the beginning of the story. Older mechanics often say that engine oils are more important than fuel. If you run out of fuel, you just put some of it in the tank and you are good to go, but if you run out of motor oil, your engine is ruined and you're not going anywhere. Today, we will explain all the basics of the engine oil and help you decide what lubricant you need for your car.
What Is Motor Oil?
Motor oil is an engine lubricant designed to provide lubrication of the engine's moving parts, mainly pistons, crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train. It is a blend of various chemicals, organic or synthetic, which enhances viscosity and durability under extreme conditions and high and low temperatures. Without motor oil, the car engine wouldn't be able to operate. In case of a sudden loss of engine oil, engine sizing is imminent and often fatal for the whole motor. Among the chemicals used for lubricating, motor oil also consists of anti-corrosion components, various detergents, and viscosity improvers all designed for improving performance and reducing wear of the system.
How Often To Change The Oil (Time And Mileage)
Due to improvements in engine and motor oil technology, modern cars can have relatively long oil change intervals. Most current models can go 10 to 20.000 miles on a single oil change. Of course, the exact length of oil changing interval depends on several circumstances such as type of the engine, use, diesel or gasoline, mileage and so on.
Changing the oil in due time always helps your engine since it provides fresh lubrication which prolongs the life of the motor and reduces wear. Even if you do it more often than required it will not harm your car. However, if you forget to change your oil and go way over the recommended interval, it will definitely reduce the performance of your engine and increase wear of internal components.
If you own a new or newer vehicle with fewer miles on it, we recommend following the manufacturer`s instructions and changing oil according to that. However, if you own an older car with high mileage, then we recommend you change oil at least once a year and at around 5 to 10,000 miles mark. Older engines benefit from regular oil changes and this simple procedure will help keep them running for long.
Types Of Motor Oil
The main way to differentiate motor oils is by the formula used in production. There are three different formulas - mineral, synthetic, and synthetic-mineral blend.
Mineral Motor Oil
Mineral motor oil is a petroleum-based product which is mostly made from natural ingredients. This type of oil used to be the standard of the industry but in recent years, car manufacturers moved to synthetic or semi-synthetic oils. Mineral motor oils are not complicated to produce but are not for use in high-performance engines.
Synthetic Motor Oils
Most of the motor oil produced today is synthetic since those formulas provide the best protection, lubrication, and wear protection. Synthetic oil is superior to mineral, which is why it is now the industry standard. It is more expensive than mineral but it is far better, especially for extreme climate use, vehicles that operate under heavy load, or high-performance applications.
This is the mix of conventional mineral oil with synthetic oil. They offer similar benefits that synthetic motor oils provide, making them superior to mineral oil, but at a lower price. Synthetic-mineral blends, however, cannot reach the heights of performance that only the best synthetic oils can.
Motor Oil Brands
As you probably know, there are numerous motor oil brands on the market and all of them offer quality products for various purposes and engine types. Most common brands used today are Mobil, Castrol, Valvoline, Royal Purple, Quaker State, Pennzoil and so on. Also, several car manufacturers also produce engine oils designed to work best with their cars.
However, in recent years there have been reports of counterfeit motor oils appearing on the market. The package looks the same as well as the label, but the oil is of extremely poor quality and can seriously damage your car. So, when you are buying some brand name oil, be sure to get it from a known vendor and always check the packaging and declaration.
Motor Oil Prices
As an extremely important component of the engine, motor oil comes in a wide range of prices and packages. Most oils start at around $10 for 1 quart but can be much more than that if you need special or high-performance oil. You can get packages of 1 or 5 quarts which amount your need for an average oil change, or even big barrels of oil which are commonly bought by car shop and service stations.
Synthetic Vs. High Mileage Oil
One of the common questions if you own a high mileage car is whether to use full synthetic or high mileage motor oil. There is no simple answer since it depends on the condition of your engine.
The main difference between regular synthetic and high mileage oil is the formula. In the case of high mileage oil, it is enhanced with detergents, sealers and additional lubricants. This is made to provide old engines with better protection and keep them operational even with extensive wear. However, if your car doesn't leak or burn oil, has steady idle, starts easily in cold temperatures, then you really don't need high mileage oil as regular synthetic will do just fine.
Should I Use High Mileage Oil?
After a hundred or so thousand miles on your engine, engine internals start to display a certain level of wear after millions and millions or revs over the years. Moving parts like crankshaft, pistons, valves, camshafts and so on are no longer precisely fitted inside of the engine block or engine head and the car loses compression and therefore performance and fuel economy. In other, simpler words, the car is old and tired.
However, an oil change can help, and oil manufacturers offer special oils for high mileage engines designed to bring life back to old powerplants. The high mileage engine oil is a special type of lubricant designed as semi-synthetic oil enhanced with several other chemicals to further improve lubrication, stop corrosion, and help reduce oil consumption and leaks known to appear on older engines.
Also, those types of motor oil have more detergents than regular which helps clean the engine from the sludge buildup over the years of use. As you expect, those high mileage engine oils cost more than regular ones but are they worth the investment? In case you have an old engine that burns oil or have a severe oil leak problem, then yes, you should try to fix it with high mileage oil designed to reduce such issues. However, if you have a high mileage engine that runs just fine, don't burn or leak oil, then you should stick with regular oil simply because your engine doesn't show the signs of severe wear.
What Is The Best Oil For My Car?
Since there are numerous different formulas, viscosity indexes, and manufacturers on the market, choosing the right oil for your car can be a difficult task. However, the best way to determine what oil to use is to refer to your car's factory specifications. Use the exact oil that car manufacturer equipped your car with. Never mix different viscosities of oil or change the type without consulting with the mechanics. Changing from mineral to synthetic or putting totally different viscosity oil can seriously damage your engine.
Of course, if you tuned your car to deliver more performance, you need to upgrade to some high-performance oil.
Best Motor Oil For High Mileage Engines
Fresh oil inside your old engine which will rejuvenate the whole engine in a matter of minutes. It is a fast, cheap and very effective way of bringing new life to old and tired powerplants. (Make sure you dispose of your used motor oil properly!)
Here are some of the best oils available on the market which is designed especially for old engines with a lot of miles on them and which will make your car run as new after just one oil change (granted you change your oil filter, too!).
Valvoline (VV150-6PK) MaxLife 10W-40 Higher Mileage Motor Oil
The name tells it all and not only this is the product of well-known and respected company but it is designed especially for high mileage engines. This is synthetic oil and it performs better than the old mineral ones with additives which help close the seals and prevent the oil from leaking from your engine. It also helps remove the engine's deposits and sludge.
Pennzoil High Mileage Vehicle Oil
Another quality product from Pennzoil and this one is not only affordable but very good in preserving your engine and bringing back lost performance and agility. As other similar products, this is also an improved synthetic formula which will reduce wear, help seal the cracks and stop leaking. Also, this oil will have longer intervals and will clean the internals of the engine.
Mobil 1 45000 5W-30 High Mileage Motor Oil
Mobil 1 is also a well-respected company in the oil business and their products are often the best on the market. The interesting thing about this product is a 5W index of viscosity which means that this is more dense oil than the rest and it is suited for engines with extreme mileage since it will seal it better. So if you have a million miller, this is the oil for you.
Castrol 06470 GTX 20W-50 High Mileage Motor Oil
One of the best products on the market is Castrol's 06470 GTX synthetic motor oil which is, in fact, a blend of oil with powerful additives. This mix allows the oil not only to fully and properly lubricate the engine and its moving parts but to maintain the seals and reduce the leaks. And, of course, protect it from build ups of sludge. Definitely, a recommended and highly graded product.
Amsoil Extended Life Synthetic Motor Oil
A little bit more expensive option but well worth the price since Amsoil has not only special new formula for older engines but also contains additives that resist the build up of sludge and similar deposits. This way Amsoil is not only preserving your old engine but it keeps it clean for longer.