All non-electric cars run on gas or diesel but they also need engine oil. It is a vital component to ensure your vehicle’s engine works efficiently. It provides engine protection, reduced engine wear, and affects fuel economy.
As a responsible car owner, your need to keep a check on your oil levels to avoid the consequences and costs of engine wear decreased engine performance, and replacement engine parts.
What Happens If Your Car Runs Dry of Oil?
You should never let this happen. Do not wait until your oil warning light comes on as by the time this happens the oil reservoir can be so low as to already have caused (often irreparable) damage.
Your owner’s manual will guide you as to how to check your car’s engine oil levels and you should do this on a regular basis. It is not a difficult job - accessibility to the oil tank is considered an in car build so you don’t have to be a mechanic in any way. The same owner’s manual will also advise on oil change intervals.
It is a serious issue when oil levels get too low. Your engine will start to grind and eventually seize up. This will cause the car to stall. A seized engine is a costly business - it will either involve extensive mechanical work or it will be damaged beyond repair - the only option then is to change the engine or change your car! oil levels in older engines are more serious because the better technology of newer engines means less lubrication is required. Modern engines get better protection from better oils.
Types of Car Engine Oil
Looking after your car’s engine is not just about keeping the oil at a good operating level but also about using the right type of oil.
There are two types of oil - conventional and synthetic.
In a conventional oil, the base oil is naturally occurring, mineral-based crude oil extracted from the earth. It is the same base oil that is refined into gas and diesel.
The crude oil is processed with special additives to produce a formula that provides heat tolerance and viscosity (this refers to the thickness of the oil and its ability to flow.
In general, conventional motor oils are cheaper than synthetic motor oils - up to half the price. The oil change intervals however are shorter than with synthetic oils.
Synthetic motor oils have been around since the 1970s.
Usually, the description synthetic implies that something is man-made but it is a bit of a misnomer here. Synthetic oils are manufactured in a chemical plant but they do still use a crude base oil. Chemical compounds are added to produce a formula that delivers a high-performance level of lubrication at high temperatures.
Synthetic oils also have the addition of chemicals that have cleansing properties that help to maintain a cleaner engine.
Why is Synthetic Motor Oil Better than Conventional Motor Oil?
The downside is that synthetic oils can cost twice as much as conventional oil but the benefits outweigh this considerably. Motoring associations and industry experts say that synthetic oils outperform conventional oils by up to 50 percent. Synthetic oils generally last two to three times longer.
The enhanced performance is due to the way the base oil is processed and the additives.
Semi-synthetic blend oils use base oils that have fewer impurities and are more highly refined and higher quality than the base oils used in conventional oils.
This makes synthetic oils
- more chemically stables
- oxidize and acidify more slowly
- maintain protective qualities for longer.
Some manufacturers produce full synthetic motor oils. Using the highest quality mineral oil as a base, these take performance to the next level because they
- protect against extreme temperatures
- reduce wear on engine parts
- combat deposit buildup and sludge
- control oil breakdown
Which Oil is Best for Your Car?
If you have an older car, you will most probably use conventional motor oil. Even older high-performance vehicles will drive as expected with conventional motor oil. If you think your older engine would benefit from synthetic oil, consult with a mechanic at your next oil change.
Many modern cars are designed to use only synthetic oil. The main reason for this is that automakers are producing cars designed for greater fuel efficiency (smaller engines). Modern engines also feature turbochargers that boost power. These require high-performance lubrication because turbocharged engines run a lot hotter than non-turbo engines. The revolutions of a turbocharged engine are also significantly faster than in older engines so the oil needs to flow quickly through the oil filter to the critical parts. Synthetic oil better protects the engine because it flows better.
Driving conditions and habits should also be considered when choosing the right oil.
If you drive a lot in stop-and-go traffic or make mostly short trips, synthetic oil provides better protection for start-up and lots of clutch work (with a stick shift).
If your driving conditions feature hot and cold temperature extremes, again, synthetic oil is better able to provide the lubrication required.
Cars with High Mileage
If your car has done more than 75,000 miles, especially if it is a high-performance car as well, the best oil is a high mileage oil. These are designed to protect the seals throughout the engine (via special additives to the oil). This protection reduces the risk of leakage and oil burn-off - both common issues with older cars.
Choosing the Right Oil - Conclusion
Knowing what type of oil is best for your car will help it maintain its performance and your driving experience for longer.
Generally, you can assume that
- new cars need synthetic oil
- older cars use conventional oil
- high mileage cars run best with high mileage oil
Your owner’s manual or auto-technician can confirm.
Not every car requires synthetic or high mileage oil. To determine which type of oil is best for your vehicle, check your owner’s manual or ask your auto technician.
Among the faqs about motor oil is whether using the wrong oil can cause damage. In short, yes it can. If your chosen oil doesn’t provide the necessary lubrication, metal-on-metal contact on the engine’s components can create issues and lead to faster wear.
The right oil will also protect your car’s warranty and save you money in the long run because fuel economy is maintained.
Looking to sell your vehicle? We got you covered, contact IMX Auto today! Call us at 818-873-2070 or visit us at 811 N Victory Blvd in Burbank, California. Our helpful team is standing by to help you easily end your current lease and make sure your next vehicle is your best yet.