Understanding Motor Oil Specifications? (TOP 5 Tips)

The short answer:The numbers represent the viscosity of the oil and the W stands for WINTER. The lower the number, the thinner the oil and the better the oil’s cold temperature/ cold start performance. The number after the W describes how thick the oil is at the engine’s normal operating temperature.

Is 5W-30 oil thicker than 10W30?

10w30 is thicker than 5w30 because it has a higher viscosity in low temperatures. The engine oil will flow slower than 5w30 during the cold season. Thicker or higher viscosity metal oil has a better seal compared to low viscosity oil. Thicker oil offers better lubrication of motor and engine parts.

How do you read engine oil specs?

In simple words, the number preceding W represents the parameter. Tells us how the oil will flow in cold conditions. The smaller the number, the better will be the flow. For instance, a 5W-30 oil will have a better cold flow than 10W-30 engine oil.

Is 10w 40 better than 5W-30?

The first number in the motor oil’s name describes the oil’s cold viscosity. A 10w-40 motor oil is a thicker oil at startup than a 5w-30 motor oil. Therefore, 10w-40 oil clings to the engine’s moving parts more than the lower viscosity 5w-30 oil.

What oil is thicker 10W30 or SAE 40?

The higher the number, the more viscous or thicker, the oil is at higher temperatures. This means that at 100oC, 10W30 engine oil has the viscosity of an SAE 30 single grade oil, and 10W40 oil has SAE 40 viscosity. 10W40 oil has a higher viscosity, retaining more thickness than 10W30 as the temperature rises.

What happens if you put 10w40 instead of 5W-30?

If you use 10-w-40 instead of 5-w-30 specified by the manufacturer then the viscosity of 10-w- 40 used by you will be higher and oil thicker than what is specified during winters. Similarly the oil viscosity will be higher and oil thicker than specified during summers.

What is 10W-40 oil used for?

The 10W-40 engine oil has a thicker viscosity than, say, 10W-30 oil when the car engine is hot. This helps it lubricate older moving parts in high mileage engines while being less likely to leak.

What does 15W 40 stand for?

What does 15W40 mean? 15W40 refers to the SAE class according to which the engine oil was classified. The SAE class describes the viscosity of an oil, i.e. its flow properties as a function of the operating temperature. ’15W’ refers to the flowability at cold temperatures (W=winter).

What does 10W30 mean?

That’s why you see two numbers on most oils. For Example: 10W30. This means the viscosity is at 10W when the engine is cold and 30 when the engine is hot. Low viscosities are good for cold temperatures (hence the “W” association) because the oil is thinner. Thinner motor oil flows more easily and moves quickly.

What happens if you use 10W40 instead of 10W30?

So if you change your oil from 10W30 to 10W40 you should take care about the weather in your surroundings. Changing from 10W30 to 10W40 will not do any effect on your engine if you choose right one for the right season. Its totally safe you can go for it.

Is Thicker oil better for older engines?

Newer vehicles can utilize thinner oils for faster lubrication of new engine parts. In contrast, older, high-mileage engines benefit from thicker oils to prevent friction and oil loss.

What is the best grade of oil for a worn engine?

In most temperate climates, a 10W oil will suffice, but the best motor oil for high mileage engines in cold weather will start with 5W or even 0W.

Can I use 10W40 instead of 10W30 in my lawn mower?

Although SAE 30 motor oil is usually suggested for use in lawn mower engines, the safest option is to use the oil recommended by your lawn mower manufacturer. The same motor oil types used in cars, such as 10W-30 or 10W-40, can often be used in a lawn mower.

Is 30 weight oil the same as 10W30?

SAE 10w30 oil has 10w thickness at low temperatures, but SAE 30 is at high temperatures. In the straight SAE, 30 doesn’t and can have immense Viscosity and helpless pumpability at low temperatures. As SAE 10w30 is not thick in low temperature, while SAE 30 is in high temperature. 6

Can you mix 10W-30 and 10W-40 oil?

Originally Answered: Is it okay to mix 10W30 oil with 10W40 oil? yes you can mix 10W30 with 10W40 as long as the engine will work with both 10W30 and 10W40. In certain high performance engines the 40 could be too thick in certain engines.

Engine Oil Grades Explained

Engine oil is the most important item to have on hand while performing auto maintenance. Engine oil is one of the primary lubricants, and it plays a significant role in the combustion cycle of a vehicle. It helps to keep the engine cool while also ensuring that the piston rings in the IC engine are correctly sealed together. So, let’s take a look at all of the things that this miracle liquid can do to our automobile. Engine Lubricant

Provides Lubrication

  • During the combustion cycle, the motor oil reduces friction between the various components of the engine, resulting in a more efficient engine. Parts of the engine do not scrape against one other as hard as they would if a thin coating of oil were applied. As a result, engine oil helps to prevent wear and tear.

Neutralizes Acids

  • Acids are produced by the burning of fuel, as well as the oxidation of other lubricants, during the combustion process. The neutralization of these acids is the responsibility of engine oil.

Cleans out Sludge

  • Oil plays a crucial function in keeping the engine block clean and free of residue, and it should be changed often. This might result in a blockage if the sludge is not adequately cleared from the engine.

Inhibits corrosion and oxidation

  1. Another role of engine oil is to protect the engine from corroding. Rust is prevented from forming on the cylinder blocks by using motor oil.

As a result, we now understand that engine oil is critical to the efficient operation of the engine. However, did you know that not all engines can operate with the same engine oil? Yes, various engines need the use of different engine oils in order to run and perform properly. The engine oil recommended by the automobile manufacturer is determined by the specifications of your vehicle. You should also be familiar with the grade of motor oil that your vehicle requires. This will assist you in getting the greatest performance possible out of your motor.

This is something to be aware of!

What are engine oil grades?

Engine oils are classified according to their grade. The viscosities of the materials have been evaluated by the SAE. Internal friction in a fluid is measured by its viscosity, which is a physical property. Viscosities of engine oils vary depending on their temperature of operation at room temperature. They also react in a distinct way to variations in temperature. The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) established a scale for rating engine oil, which is used today.

What does 20W-40 mean in engine oil?

In the form of an alpha-numeric code, the engine oil grade is identified. Let’s have a look at what each of the characters in the code represents:

  • There is a ‘W’ after the first number in the sequence. W is for Winter, and it describes how the oil will behave when it is started from a cold temperature
  • In other words, the number preceding W represents a parameter. The number indicates how well the oil will flow under cold temperatures
  • The lower the number, the better the flow. The fineness with which the oil flows at normal operating temperature is indicated by the number in the next section
  • For example, a 5W-30 engine oil will flow more smoothly at low temperatures than a 10W-30 engine oil. Grading of engine oil

If you run your engine at normal operating temperature, the 10W-30 engine oil will have a better flow than the 10W-40 engine oil.

Motor Oil Grades

Take a look at some of the most widely used motor oil grades throughout the world:

  1. 0W-20 When you first turn on the engine, the engine oil is noticeably thinner than usual. When the engine is cool, the viscosity of the oil in 0W-20 is equal to 0 (zero). In order for the engine to operate at its regular operating temperature, the viscosity of the oil must be 20
  2. 0W-30 is recommended. At its beginning temperature, the 0W-30 oil is designed to operate as a 0 weight oil, but when the engine achieves its usual operating temperature, it behaves as a 30 weight oil. 0W-40 Oil with a weight of zero at startup and forty at normal operating temperature is manufactured to behave as a zero-weight oil at startup and as a 40-weight oil at normal operating temperature. 5 W-305W-30 is the most widely accessible and widely used engine oil on the Indian market, with a market share of over 80%. This is something that the majority of Indian automobile manufactures advocate. When used in conjunction with a cold start, 5W-405W-40 is a totally synthetic engine oil that operates similarly to a 5 weight engine oil. Once the engine achieves normal operating temperature, it behaves as if it were a 40-weight oil
  3. 10W-4010W-40 is an engine oil that performs as if it were a 10-weight oil when the engine is started from a cold temperature. It, on the other hand, gives a 40-pound weight performance while the engine is working at its regular operating temperature.

What are the types of engine oils?

Before you go out and buy any engine oil, be sure you know what kind of oil your hatchback, sedan, or SUV needs. It is critical to understand what is put into your vehicle’s engine. After all, it is this that determines whether or not the engine will operate smoothly, slickly, and efficiently. In general, there are three types of engine oil: mineral, semi-synthetic, and synthetic engine oils. Mineral engine oil is the least expensive of the three.

Mineral Engine Oil

Mineral Oil | Engine Oil | Synthetic Oil This is the most basic type of motor oil available. Mineral engine oil is often regarded as the originator of contemporary engine lubricants, having opened the path for them. Natural mineral oil is essentially refined petroleum oils that have been treated to allow them to perform throughout a broad variety of temperature conditions. Furthermore, when compared to the other two types of oil, mineral oil is the least expensive on the market. Mineral oils are now used in older automobiles and motorbikes, as well as in newer ones.

Furthermore, they work extremely inefficiently at lower temperatures. They are also far more prone to breakdown when subjected to high-temperature conditions. Mineral oil also requires more frequent replenishment than other types of oil. They are not designed to survive more than 5000 kilometers.

Semi-Synthetic Engine Oil

Engine Oil | Semi-Synthetic Engine Oil This puts it exactly in the middle of the spectrum between mineral and fully synthetic oil production. Semi-synthetic oil combines the affordability of mineral oil with the performance of synthetic oil to create a winning combination. When compared to mineral oils, this type of engine oil can give up to three times the protection against wear and tear. Semi-synthetic oil is sometimes referred to as synthetic mix oil in some circles. This mixture contains a minor amount of synthetic engine oil blended with a little amount of mineral oil.

The use of synthetic oil improves the viscosity and wear resistance of the engine oil, allowing it to operate at greater temperatures and under more demanding conditions.

The main disadvantage of semi-synthetic materials is that they do not provide the greater level of protection that a complete synthetic material does.

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Engine oil that is completely synthetic This is the most advanced engine oil technology available. Full synthetic engine oil provides outstanding protection while also assisting in the improvement of fuel economy. Synthetic oils are subjected to a thorough treatment process in the laboratory. The mineral oil is broken down into its most fundamental components during this process. This distinguishes them as being much superior than their competitors. This also aids in the removal of any contaminants to an extremely high degree.

  1. Full synthetic oil performs at its best in a variety of conditions, including low and high temperatures as well as extreme stress.
  2. Your step-by-step guide to selecting the proper engine oil for your vehicle Motor oil is absolutely necessary for your automobile’s engine.
  3. So, what type of engine oil should you choose?
  4. Keep in mind, however, that you should use the engine oil recommended by the manufacturer for your vehicle.
  5. Are you wondering who would be the finest individual to service your vehicle?

We are here to help you in any way we can! Use GoMechanic to lubricate your engine. Would you want to know more? You’ve got it! Answers to the Top 10 Most-Asked Engine Oil Questions on Google! Read more about Purchasing a Second Hand Used Car? | Dealership or Private Seller?, and more.

Engine Oil Types, Weights, and Viscosity – Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to purchasing motor oil, how do you know which one to choose from all of the possibilities available? Should you stick with a specific brand or not? Or are you looking for a certain type? Is traditional oil on par with synthetic oil in terms of quality? Is there a difference between different grades of oil? And what exactly does the term ‘grade’ mean? Look at some frequently asked questions regarding motor oil and see if the answers will help to clear up any misunderstandings you might have.

  • To begin, we need clear up certain misunderstandings about the nomenclature used to refer to motor oil (sometimes known as ‘engine oil’).
  • The capacity of a liquid to resist flow – how thick it is – is measured by its viscosity.
  • You may be acquainted with words such as ’30-weight’ or ’10W-30′ oil, but you may not know what they mean.
  • The greater the number, the thicker the oil is considered to be.
  • The flow rate of thinner oils is quicker than the flow rate of thicker oils, therefore engineers build engines to run with a certain grade of oil.
  • The term ‘weight’ has the same meaning.
  • As a result, SAE30 oil is also known as 30-weight oil, and both terms refer to the viscosity or thickness of the oil.
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Many years ago, straight-weight motor oils were widely used in automobiles.

It is worth noting that SAE50 has a higher viscosity (is thicker) than SAE40 and so on.

However, your automobile is capable of operating in a broad variety of temperatures (at least on the surface).

The engine is still warm, and the oil is still warm.

What is the significance of this?

Alternatively, you might say that it becomes thicker as it cools down.

When your engine is fully warmed up, a 30-weight oil will perform admirably in your vehicle.

This is where ‘multi-weight’ oil comes in.

You’ve probably seen 10W-30, 5W-20, and other similar oils.

Actually, the oil itself is of a lesser quality, but it has additives that prevent it from thinning down as it heats up, allowing it to perform as well as a higher-viscosity oil in some situations.

In a multi-weight oil, what does the ‘W’ stand for, exactly?

What about the letter ‘W,’ on the other hand?

It is an abbreviation for ‘Winter.’ Using straight weight oil (e.g., SAE30) rather than multi-weight oil (5W-30) might be advantageous in some situations.

Straight-weight oil provides superior shear protection since it does not include viscosity improvers (the chemicals that allow a low-viscosity oil to operate as well as a higher-viscosity oil).

A straight-weight oil may be preferable for some muscle vehicles with older engines, unless they are driven in extreme cold conditions, in which case the benefits of a multi-weight oil outweigh the benefits of enhanced shear resistance.

Those that drive older automobiles may want to select straight-weight tires.

Is it advantageous for an engine to have thicker oil?

If, for example, the clearances between engine components have risen and become sloppy, a thicker oil can be used to cover the space left by the increased clearances.

Oil that is thicker than normal has even been used in engines with leaks to keep the oil from leaking out.

Not when ‘thicker’ refers to a viscosity that is higher than the manufacturer’s recommendation.

As a result, the recommendation for a certain grade of oil was made with intention.

The manufacturer’s suggested grade of oil is the optimal quality of oil for your particular engine.

Keeping this in mind, some manufacturers recommend only one grade of motor oil for use in a certain engine, and others recommend a variety of grades depending on the environment in which the vehicle is driven.

Perhaps 5W-30 instead of 5W-20 would be preferable.

Using oil that is thicker than suggested can result in a reduction in fuel efficiency, an increase in strain on your engine, and potentially a reduction in engine life.

Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.

Author: Mike Ales |

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What are oil grades

What is the rating system for viscosity? Developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), a scale for both engine (motor oil grades) and transmission oils has been established. What are the viscosity ratings for motor oil? Viscosity is denoted by the popular abbreviation ‘XW-XX.’ The number immediately preceding the ‘W’ indicates how well the oil flows at zero degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 degrees Celsius). Winter, not weight, is represented by the letter ‘W,’ contrary to popular belief. The lower the number is in this case, the less it thickens in the cold weather.

  • The viscosity of 0W or 5W would be beneficial for an engine operating in a colder region where motor oil tends to thicken due to the lower temperatures.
  • The second digit following the ‘W’ denotes the viscosity of the oil when it is heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius).
  • The oil 10W-30 will thin out faster at higher temperatures than the oil 10W-40 will thin out at lower temperatures.
  • Lawnmowers, garden tractors, portable generators, and gas-powered chainsaws are all examples of small air-cooled engines that are frequently specified with straight SAE 30-grade oil.

Understanding Motor Oil Specifications

Motor oil acts as a coolant to remove heat from the friction region and acts as a seal between the cylinder and the piston rings. Motor oil decreases friction between surfaces. Motor oil reduces wear. Motor oil reduces heat between sliding components. Motor oil minimizes energy loss.

Read more

What is motor oil viscosity?

The viscosity of a liquid is a measurement that classifies it according to its resistance to flow. Nevertheless, because oil thins as it heats and thickens as it cools, the viscosity grade of the oil must contain an indication of the oil’s temperature reference. Additionally, there are two types of oil viscosity measurements: kinematic and absolute viscosity (also called dynamic). The kinematic viscosity of motor oil is measured in centistokes (cST) or millimeters per second (mm 2 /s). A centistoke is one hundredth of a stroke in length.

  1. Here’s a basic demonstration of Kinematic viscosity: drill a hole in a little cup of a certain size and plug it.
  2. Remove the plug from the hole and count how many grams of oil flow through the hole during a certain amount of time (see illustration).
  3. Unfortunately, engines do not operate in this manner.
  4. First and foremost, engines do not rely on gravity to provide flow; instead, they circulate oil under pressure through the use of an oil pump.
  5. During its journey, it must pass via tight oil gallery channels, between bearings, and rotating shafts.
  6. Now that we’ve established that, let’s return to our leaking cup illustration.
  7. Following that, we’ll connect a 12-inch drinking straw to the hole in the bottom of the cup.
  8. In other words, the absolute viscosity of motor oil is a measure of how the oil behaves while the engine is turned on and the oil is being pushed through the system.

The absolute/dynamic viscosity of a motor oil is important because it tells you how the oil will perform at cold startup while you’re cranking the engine and how well it will pump when cold.

How is motor oil viscosity expressed?

XW-XX is a common classification used by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), where the number preceding the ‘W’ (winter) represents the oil’s absolute/dynamic low-temperature performance (-17.7°C (0°F) and the other number represents the oil’s Kinematic high temperature performance at 100° C (212°F). The Winter rating is computed with the use of a specific testing instrument known as a cold-cranking simulator, and each oil grade is measured in millipascals (mPa). The high-temperature grade of the oil is measured in degrees Celsius (cSt).

Testing is carried out at temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius for zero-weight oils and as low as 30 degrees Celsius for five-weight oils.

As a result, a 5W-30 grade oil thickens less than a 10W-30 grade oil when exposed to low temperatures.

Oil of the 5W-30 grade thins out more quickly than oil of the 5W-40 grade when heated to the same high temperature as a 5W-30 grade oil.

Viscosity index (VI)

As the oil warms up, it becomes thinner in consistency. The viscosity index of an oil measures the rate at which it thins and thickens. When the oil thins at a very slow pace as the temperature rises, the oil’s viscosity index (VI) is high. In other words, an oil with a high viscosity index (VI) will retain a more constant viscosity throughout a large temperature range.

The effect of temperature on oil viscosity is NOT uniform

Oil thinning or thickening does not occur in a linear fashion. When the temperature is between 50°F and 59°F, for example, the kinematic viscosity of an oil changes MUCH MORE than when the temperature is between 176°F and 185°F.’ It was Dean and Davis from Standard Oil that invented the viscosity index (VI) for base stocks and lubrication oils in the year 1929. At the time, there were no multi-grade oils and no synthetic oils available on the market. Two restriction points were established for the VI scale.

  1. Their VI was denoted by the number 100, which represented the highest possible VI.
  2. When their VI was marked with a zero, it meant that they had received the worst conceivable VI.
  3. After then, the lubricating oils were compared to the benchmarks.
  4. A VI of roughly 50 would be assigned somewhere in the center.
  5. A motor oil’s viscosity index (VI) can range from -60 to as high as 400, depending on the types of viscosity modifiers employed at the refinery or by the oil blender.
  6. This is quite crucial.
  7. They certainly aren’t.
  8. (mini rotary viscometer).
  9. In other words, testers do not utilize the same temperature for each oil they are testing.
  10. To further appreciate how two oils with the same initial number might have two distinct absolute viscosities, consider the following chart: As a result, a 5W oil will ALWAYS deliver superior cranking and pumping performance than a 10W oil, regardless of the temperature.

To improve cranking and pumping ability in colder areas, it is obviously more vital to use a 0W or 5W oil; but, using any of these grades of oil can improve cranking and pump performance in warmer climates as well.

Now let’s examine the differences in absolute/dynamic mPa of two oils with the same first number: 10W40 and 10W-60

The 10W-40 has a dynamic viscosity of 735.42 mPa at 0°C and a static viscosity of 735.42 mPa. The 10W-60 oil, on the other hand, has a dynamic viscosity of 1453.82 mPa at 0°C. Both oils have a 10W rating! In other words, despite the fact that they both produce 10W, their cranking and pumping characteristics are radically different.

Types of Viscosity index modifiers

Straight grade and multi-grade oil both contain viscosity modifiers, which are beneficial for both traditional and synthetic oil. Product types such as oil-soluble polymers and copolymers, among others, are used by manufacturers. Pour-point depressants as well as pour-point depressants It is the temperature at which oil ceases to flow that is known as the pour point of an oil. Using pour point depressant additives, you may prevent oil from thickening at lower temperatures by delaying crystallization of the paraffinic components of the oil’s composition.

Viscosity Index Improvers (VII)

Improvers for VII are typically long-chained, high-molecular-weight polymer molecules that alter their structure as a result of temperature fluctuations. When they are cold, they are firmly folded or coiled. When they’re in the cold condition, they have no effect on the viscosity of the oil. The molecules, on the other hand, ‘uncoil/unfold’ when the temperature of the oil increases. Thus, in order to compensate for the oil’s heat thinning qualities, they take up more space and increase the friction of the motor oil.

copolymers of olefins (OCP) Polyalkyl methacrylates are a kind of acrylic resin (PAMA) Polyisobutylenes are a kind of plastic (PIB) Methylenemethacrylate styrene block polymers are used (MMA) Polybutadiene rubber is a kind of rubber that is both flexible and durable (PBR) the chemical compound cis-polyisoprene (a synthetic rubber) Polyvinyl palmitate is a kind of plastic.

  • The larger the molecular weight of the polymer, the greater the amount of expansion it experiences.
  • When an oil refiner or blender utilizes a larger concentration of high molecular weight VII polymers, the more effective they are at preventing oil thinning when the oil is first produced.
  • As a result, long-chain polymers degrade rather fast as a result of the ‘shear’ created between moving components.
  • As a result, the engine’s protection is lowered significantly.

In other words, it’s a formula that is entirely up to the discretion of the individual refiner or blender.

In summary

Today’s motor oils are a combination of a basic stock oil and additives that help to prevent thinning at higher temperatures while also helping to reduce thickening at lower temperatures. In addition to viscosity-related chemicals, refiners and blenders may include anti-corrosive, friction-modifying, detergent, and anti-foaming additives in their formulations, among other things. The refiner or independent blender is totally free to choose the viscosity and quality of the basic stock, as well as the types and amounts of additives to be used in the process.

The year 2020 is a leap year.

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Understanding Oil Weight: What Do the Numbers on the Bottle Mean?

Oil weight might be a difficult concept to grasp. This is partially due to the fact that the term ‘weight’ does not truly refer to how much a specific lubricant weighs. It does, however, have a significant impact on the longevity of your engine, and the type of oil you pick is closely tied to manufacturer recommendations, the environment in which you reside, and the sort of driving you do. Learn more about how oil is classified, and what the numbers on the bottle really represent, by reading this article.

Going With the Flow

A measure of an oil’s viscosity, or how well it flows at a certain temperature, is referred to as its weight in weight units. As assigned by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), oil has a viscosity number or weight depending on how well it flows at 210 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about the usual working temperature for most motors at the time of manufacture. Increased numbers indicate thicker or slower flowing oil, which alters the way it coats internal engine components and provides protection against heat and friction, as well as altering the type of the coating.

What About Winter?

You’ve undoubtedly noticed that most bottles of oil have two numbers on them, separated by a ‘w.’ This is because most bottles of oil have two numbers. Known as multigrade oils, these products are special in that they have been developed to provide not just one, but two different weights of lubricant. Confused? Here’s how it works in practice. The letter ‘w’ stands for winter, and it denotes that the lubricant in question has a variable viscosity, or has distinct flow properties, depending on the temperature at which it is used.

When heated to 210 degrees Fahrenheit, it performs the same function as a 30 weight oil.

As a result, why would you desire a thinner oil that when heated, behaves like a heavier oil?

A straight 5 weight oil, on the other hand, would not be recommended since it would be too thin to keep a heated engine running safely. A multigrade is certainly the best of both worlds in terms of performance.

What Oil Should I Use?

Always follow the engine oil weight recommendations in your vehicle’s owner’s handbook, which are provided by the manufacturer. Having said that, most manuals will prescribe a variety of oils that take into consideration how harsh your winters may be, as well as if you’ll be putting additional strain on your engine by towing or lugging a big load. When it comes to motor oil selection, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Just be sure to study your handbook and select an oil grade that is appropriate for the type of driving you do in order to provide the greatest possible engine protection.

Discuss engine oil weight with a trained specialist at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS shop for further information.

Benjamin HuntingView All

I was introduced to Studebakers at an early age, and I spent my formative years surrounded by them at automobile exhibitions around Quebec and the northern United States. About 10 years of racing, rebuilding, and obsessing over vehicles has led me to pursue a full-time career in science writing while also working in automotive journalism. As an editor, I presently contribute to various online and print automotive journals, and I also write and consult for companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

Engine Oil Specifications Explained – What Does It Mean?

Who knows what’s written on the label of your oil bottle, or what it means. The subject matter of this essay may sound repetitive, but I’m continuously amazed at how many people do not know, or do not comprehend, what is written on the label of a bottle of oil, and consequently have no idea what they are purchasing or consuming it with. To be really honest about the matter, if a bottle of oil does not contain the following essential facts, do not purchase it. Look for anything that meets these requirements!

  1. Motor oil, Gear oil etc) 2) The viscosity of the liquid (i.e.
  2. MB229.3, VW503.00, BMW LL01 etc) Take little notice of the marketing text printed on the label – in many situations, it is worthless, and I’ll explain later which assertions should be treated with a certain amount of skepticism.
  3. THE ESSENTIALS All oils are meant for a specific use and, as a rule, cannot be used interchangeably.
  4. It’s critical to understand what the oil is supposed to do.
  5. 10w-40 etc) Multigrade oils were initially introduced more than 50 years ago to prevent the traditional practice of using a thinner oil in the winter and a heavier oil in the summer, which was common at the time.
  6. The lower the ‘W’ number, the better the oil’s ability to function at low temperatures and during cold starts.
  7. This is a set restriction, and any oils with a numerical suffix of 40 must meet these requirements.

Your manual will state if a 30, 40, or 50, or any other number, is needed.

Both the API (American Petroleum Institute) and the ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Europeens d’Automobiles) are specifications that you should look for on any oil container.

Types of oil and their weights Viscosity Frequently Asked Questions Is it permissible to transfer motor oil weights, for example, from a 5W-20 to a 10W-30, without causing damage?

A variety of recommended motor oil viscosity grades is provided by certain vehicle manufacturers, which are determined by the ambient temperature at which the vehicle is driven.

Always adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations, which can be found in your vehicle’s owner’s handbook, for the optimum engine performance.

This is not something that should be done.

A lighter grade than that required may result in increased mechanical wear and a shorter engine life than that advised.

What does the ‘w’ in the designation of a motor oil grade mean?

The first number in the oil classification refers to the viscosity of the oil in cold conditions.

The flow characteristics of a 5W- motor oil are superior to those of a 15W- motor oil at lower temperatures, for example.

If the value is more than one, then the oil is thicker at the chosen temperature.

The use of thicker oil can be beneficial in some situations, such as when greater bearing clearances (the distance between a bearing and a spinning shaft) have accumulated over time.

Always follow the recommendations for motor oil viscosity in your vehicle’s owner’s handbook to get the maximum performance out of your vehicle.

The use of straight weight oil in a system that needs a multi-viscosity oil is not recommended under any circumstances.

Is it damaging to my vehicle’s engine to swap between different types of motor oil (conventional, synthetic, etc.)?

Follow the motor oil type recommendations in your vehicle’s owner’s handbook to ensure that your engine performs at its peak performance. In your opinion, is it true that older automobiles can only run on conventional oil? No. (Driverstechnology and Valvoline, respectively.)

Oil Viscosity Chart: Grades, Weights & FAQs

The viscosity of a fluid is defined as its resistance to flow. Devised by the API (American Petroleum Institute), the viscosity grades of motor oils are based on a scale developed by the API lubrication organization. Known as API 1509, the values are established by the resistance the oil exhibits to flowing at two different temperatures — cold and hot. The ability to evaluate viscosity at both high and low temperatures is a characteristic of multi-grade oils. Before the advent of synthetic oil, most automobiles ran on one viscosity grade oil in the summer and another viscosity grade oil in the winter.

  1. It is necessary to evaluate the viscosity of the oil at low temperatures in order to recreate the experience of starting an automobile on a cold winter day.
  2. Example: If the oil is labeled 5W-30, the 5W portion of the label indicates how viscous the oil is at low temperatures.
  3. It is shown by the number behind the dash and is connected to the viscosity of oil as it moves through your engine once it has warmed up and reached normal engine temperature.
  4. Again, the lower the number, the lower the viscosity of the oil, and the faster the oil will travel around the engine as a result of the reduced viscosity of the oil As an illustration, consider the differences between 5W-20, 5W-30, and 10W-30 motor oils.
  5. However, as the engine heats up, the 5W-20 will provide less resistance to the engine than the 5W-30.
  6. A 5W-30 and a 10W-30 will act relatively similarly when the engine warms up, but the 5W-30 will produce less resistance and start more easily than the 10W-30 during start-up, as seen in the chart below.
  7. In the past, higher viscosity oils such as 20W-50s, 10W-40s, and 10W-30s were commonly used in automobiles to keep them running smoothly.
  8. Motor oil viscosity has decreased as a result of this throughout time; now, the most common grades are 5W-30 and 5W-20, with 0W-20 being the fastest-growing of the new grades.

It is necessary for these lower viscosity motor oils to travel through the narrow engine paths in order to protect and clean the metal surfaces. In addition to improved fuel efficiency, lower viscosity motor oils are more environmentally friendly.

Engine oil: expert guide and infographic

When it comes to the smooth operation of an internal combustion engine vehicle, engine oil is critical. Every engine requires engine oil, which is a lubricant. But why are there so many different types, what are the distinctions between them, and does it really make any difference? This article will take DIY mechanics through the lingo and codes so that you understand which oil is best for your car and how to determine which oil is best for you. We’ll start with some frequently asked questions regarding engine oil, followed by a simple infographic that explains everything on the label of an oil bottle, as well as other important information about the product.

Furthermore, the older your engine is, the more oil it will likely to consume (or leak), and the more frequently you will need to check the dipstick to ensure that it remains above the minimum level of the engine.

What type of engine oil does my car need?

You may figure out what oil to use in your automobile by consulting the Haynes AutoFix for your vehicle or the owner’s manual for your vehicle. Also, ask at your local motor factor, and companies such as Halfords and Euro Car Parts offer tools on their websites that can help you choose the proper oil depending on your registration number. Alternatively, call your local motor factor. Be cautious of the comments on oil that you may read on social media or forums from well-meaning people – stick to the kind recommended by the manufacturer and you won’t go wrong.

Modern automobile engines operate with extremely tight tolerances and subject oils to a variety of forces, conditions, and pressures that are vastly different from one another.

Why should I top up the oil in my car?

In the event that you fail to keep your car’s minimum oil level maintained, there is a strong risk that crucial engine components may be starved of oil and will either wear out too soon or fail catastrophically as a result. The cost and inconvenience associated with this would be enormous – considerably greater than the cost of a litre of oil at the petrol station and a dipstick check every weekend. It is not simply a matter of keeping the oil level at a safe level. Also important is to change the engine oil at the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals because oil degrades over time and must be replaced.

Mechanical stresses and strains are presumably easier to visualize, and they cause a constant state of molecular breakdown to occur.

Oil isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot less expensive than having to replace an engine before it’s time.

What Do Oil Grades Really Mean for Your Engine?

Whether you drive a vehicle or a motorbike, changing your oil is one of the most vital preventative maintenance tasks. When compared to other automotive maintenance tasks such as replacing a clutch or timing belt, changing your engine oil is quite simple. The good news is that, not only does contemporary motoroil come in several kinds, but there are numerous oil grades to choose from as well. Furthermore, the labels are not always the most effective means of conveying information. Finding the proper oil grade and kind, on the other hand, does not have to be a difficult endeavor if you know what to look for.

Engine oil grade vs oil weight

The following attributes are allowed: ‘ src=’ frameborder=’0′ allow=’accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; picture-in-picture; picture-in-picture;’ allowfullscreen=”> Despite the fact that the terms ‘oil grade’ and ‘oil weight’ are frequently used interchangeably, they are not the same thing in technical terms. They are, nevertheless, both related to the same concept: viscosity, which characterizes a fluid’s resistance to flow. In comparison to honey, tap water has a lower viscosity and hence flows more easily in comparison to honey.

  • Temperature, and to a lesser extent pressure, have an effect on viscosity; it is not a constant property of fluids.
  • This was particularly problematic with earlier carbureted automobiles, which required a lot of cranking at high speeds in order to get them to start.
  • The films formed by low-weight motor oils are not thick enough to adequately lubricate the engine’s components in the same way that a higher-weight oil would.
  • Furthermore, the thinner oil does not gather up as much dirt and may squeeze through seals with greater ease.
  • It is at this point that the distinction between ‘oil grade’ and ‘oil weight’ becomes more obvious.
See also:  Viscosity Index? (Question)

Motor oil grade terminology

Tatarstan, Russia (October 11, 2018): Tatarstan, Russia (October 11, 2018): At the TANECO oil refining and petrochemical complex in the city of Nizhnekamsk, in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, samples of motor oils are on display | Alexander RyuminTASS via Getty Images When you look at the label of a bottle of motor oil, you’ll typically notice something like ‘XW-X,’ with the X’s representing the numbers. That ‘W,’ on the other hand, does not stand for ‘weight.’ Valvoline argues that it is actually an abbreviation for ‘winter.’ The following attributes are allowed: ‘ src=’ frameborder=’0′ allow=’accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; picture-in-picture; picture-in-picture;’ allowfullscreen=”> Blackstone Laboratories states that in the past, all motor oil was referred to as’straight weight.’ In other words, the oil’s viscosity was not altered after it was manufactured.

  1. Nowadays, however, practically every oil is a’multi-weight’ oil, which contains additives that change the viscosity of the oil.
  2. ‘ src=’ frameborder=’0′ allow=’accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture’ allowfullscreen=”>This is where the ‘winter’ part comes in, according to Advance Auto Parts.
  3. However, at freezing temperatures, the former behaves as a 5-weight oil, and the latter behaves as a 10-weight oil.
  4. The following attributes are allowed: ‘ src=’ frameborder=’0′ allow=’accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; picture-in-picture; picture-in-picture;’ allowfullscreen=”> RELATED: What Causes Cars to Leak Oil, and What Should You Do to Prevent It?

It makes no difference if you’re looking for vehicle or motorbike engine oil, synthetic or conventional; same language is applicable in all cases. In addition, the automobile industry has a slew of regulations and standard tests in place to determine the lubricating characteristics of an oil.

Can I use a different oil than my owner’s manual specifies?

According to The Drivereports, the optimum motor oil grade is the one that your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends for it. But does it make a difference if you use 5W-30 instead of 10W-40? And what about ones that are designed for motorcycles? The following attributes are allowed: ‘ src=’ frameborder=’0′ allow=’accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; picture-in-picture; picture-in-picture;’ allowfullscreen=”> RELATED:Oil changes and car washes aren’t nearly enough vehicle maintenance.

  • Additionally, anti-wear and anti-foam chemicals, antioxidants, and cleaning detergents are included in RoadTrackreports’ list of additives.
  • As a result, even if your motorcycle and your automobile both use 5W-30 oil, they are not interchangeable.
  • This article is related to:How Pickup Truck Maintenance is Different From Car Maintenance.
  • For example, Chevrolet advises changing the oil in a 2019 Corvette ZR1 from a 0W-40 to a 15W-50 formulation for track driving.
  • In addition, several OEMs advocate using a lower viscosity oil in particularly cold locations, according to Amsoilreports.
  • Using a 0W-20 oil in the ZR1 would result in increased engine wear since the oil would not be giving enough protection to the engine.
  • So, theoretically, you could go from a 5W-40 to a 0W-40 or from a 5W-40 to a 5W-50 without changing your oil.
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Synthetic Oil vs. Synthetic Blend vs. Conventional Oil

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) created a grading system for motor oils that is used to grade oil based on its viscosity. The resistance to flow of a fluid is measured in viscosity. A low viscosity is associated with thin fluids (such as water), whereas a high viscosity is associated with thick fluids (such as honey). The viscosity of motor oil fluctuates as a result of the temperature fluctuations it undergoes. SAE viscosity grades are a classification of viscosity. When it comes to performance, multi-grade viscosity motor oils can handle a broad variety of temperature variations.

While multigrade viscosity motor oil flows efficiently at low temperatures, it nevertheless provides enough protection for the engine when operating at high temperatures.

Always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s handbook for information on the proper motor oil specification, viscosity grade, and oil drain interval for your engine’s unique needs.

Understanding Engine Oil – The Filter Blog

So you want to top off the engine oil in your car, and you want to do it yourself – perhaps you’ve seen one of our DIY videos? You know where the dipstick is, you know how to use it, and all that’s left is for you to get some oil. But what type of oil is best for your vehicle?

Which Engine Oil?

Isn’t oil simply oil? However, when it comes to purchasing the items, there is a vast array of alternatives accessible at a variety of pricing points. Whenever you pick up a bottle or look more closely at the specifications, you’ll be met with a seemingly random series of letters and numbers, and, to make matters worse, they’re similar to those on another identically priced bottle, but different enough to make you wonder if there’s something else you should be aware of! Not to worry, we’re here to walk you through it all in plain English and with as little jargon as possible.

Just Tell Me What Oil Suits My Car!

If you’re not really interested in understanding what all the technical language means and simply want to ensure that you obtain the correct motor oil for your automobile, you may use our ‘oil finder’- Simply enter your registration information and you’re good to go.

The Basics of Car Engine Oil

Mineral, semi-synthetic, and synthetic engine oils are the three most common types of engine oil available on the market.

  • Mineraloil is the cheapest and is simply a component of crude oil that is created after it has been refined, making it the most economical. In recent years, fewer automobile manufacturers advocate this since it often does not come with the engine-cleaning chemicals that are now necessary, and it has a limited temperature functioning range. To summarize, it is absolutely OK for older engines with less severe limits and that are operated in a temperate area without freezing or extremely hot conditions. Synthetic oil is the most costly, but there is a good reason for this. It has been designed by scientists to function in a wide variety of temperatures and environmental conditions while also lowering drag on the engine, which helps to cut fuel consumption and emissions. Additionally, while it’s pushed about, it actively cleans the engine’s inside. Semi-syntheticoil is a mixture of mineral and synthetic oil that is used to assist keep the price of oil down.

Understanding Engine Oil Viscosity

The viscosity of an oil is indicated by the huge numbers on the container, such as 5W30 or 10W40. Flowability is a term that is used to describe the oil’s ability to flow. Another way of putting it is that thin oil has a low viscosity, whereas thick oil has a high viscosity. As an example, beer has a low viscosity, but golden syrup has a high viscosity (see below). Just make sure you don’t put them in your engine. The temperature of the surrounding environment, i.e. how hot or cold it is outdoors, has an impact on the engine oil in your automobile.

  1. The oil, on the other hand, must be able to flow at a regular rate over a wide variety of temperatures in order to adequately lubricate an engine.
  2. It will begin to flow, but at a glacial pace due to the frigid temperature, which has rendered it more viscous.
  3. After that, remove the lid and carefully pour the syrup out of the jar.
  4. The heat has decreased the viscosity of the syrup, allowing it to flow more swiftly.
  5. If you reside in Siberia and the temperature outside is -20 degrees Fahrenheit, the oil in your car’s engine must be thin enough to flow and lubricate all of the internal components as soon as you turn the key in the ignition.
  6. Your engine oil must maintain sufficient viscosity to adequately lubricate the engine.

So… Oils are created in a variety of viscosities to ensure that they perform well in a variety of climates and operating circumstances. Grades of oil are blended in order to widen the range of temperatures in which they may be utilized effectively. Multi-grade oils are what these are referred to as.

Understanding the Numbers:

Multi-grade (multi viscosity) oils are the most common type of oil these days, and they will be identified on the label by two numerals separated by a ‘W.’ (e.g. 5W-30) Known as mono-grade oils, these are oils having a single viscosity rating (for example, SAE 20W), however they are becoming less prevalent these days. With the use of the SAE, oils are tested and given an arbitrary weight or grade (viscosity) number based on their flow rate at various temperatures. The numerical system used by SAE is as follows: 0, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60.

Thinner, less viscous oils ideal for low temperatures such as those seen during the winter are designated by lower numbers.

  • A 0W oil will flow correctly up to -30 degrees Celsius, a 5W oil will flow correctly up to -25 degrees Celsius, and a 10W oil will flow correctly up to -20 degrees Celsius. Up to -15 degrees Celsius, 15W oil will flow correctly
  • Up to -10 degrees Celsius, 20W oil will flow correctly
  • And so on.

The flow rate of oils is also tested at a ‘hot’ temperature of 100 degrees Celsius, which simulates the temperature of an engine in operation. The second number in a Multi-grade oil relates to the viscosity of the oil when it is ‘hot.’ As a result, at 100°C, a 5W30 oil will only thin to the extent of its higher grade. Think of it this way: a 5W30 oil is a 5-weight oil that will not thin out more than a 30-weight oil when exposed to high temperatures. The following is an example of a multi-grade oil rating: SAE 5W-30.

This is based on a 5W oil that was tested at -25 degrees Celsius.

Other organizations, such as the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association) and the API (American Petroleum Institute), are available as alternatives, although the SAE is widely regarded as the industry standard in this region of the globe.


  • A low SAPS oil must be used in conjunction with a contemporary turbodiesel vehicle that includes a diesel particulate filter (DPF) in the exhaust system. SAPS is an abbreviation for ‘Sulphated Ash, Phosphorous, Sulphur,’ and it’s also known as low ash oil or just low ash oil. According to the ACEA, low ash oil is classified as C1 (0.5 percent ash), C2 (0.8 percent ash – better suited to higher performance engines), and C3 (0.9 percent ash – better suited to lower performance engines). CJ-4 is the designation used in the United States
  • Hence, an engine oil labeled 5W30 C1, C2, or C3 is a 5w30 grade oil that is acceptable for vehicles equipped with DPFs. If your vehicle is equipped with a DPF, make careful to determine if C1, C2, or C3 type oil is necessary.

Carmakers’ own oil grades

  • To further confound matters, numerous automobile manufacturers have developed their own types of oil that must be used in certain models. The SAE grading system nearly always has an equivalent, so the two may be compared. For specific Volkswagen Group vehicles, including Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, and Skoda, oils with the VW 500.00 to VW 508.00 designation are recommended
  • BMW approves oils with the ‘BMW Longlife’ designation (abbreviated ‘LL’), indicating that they are suitable for extended service intervals on specific models. Volkswagen Group vehicles, including Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, and Skoda, are recommended to run grades with the VW 500.00 to VW 508.00 designation. Example: BMW LL04
  • Mercedes-Benz approved oils are labeled with the letters ‘MB-Approval’ followed by a number that relates to a paragraph and page of the ‘Mercedes Bluebook’ that dealers use
  • Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Porsche, and other manufacturers also use their own codes
  • And

Top tips

  • Remember that the most costly oil does not inevitably imply that it is the best option for your engine. Always use the oil quality and standard advised by the automobile manufacturer, since this is what the engine would have been designed with. Even while it may be tempting to pick the oil grade with the broadest rating range, it is advisable to choose one with the narrowest range while still being compatible with the ambient temperatures you are likely to encounter, since it will be more optimal across that temperature range
  • After making the decision to switch from a less-than-optimal oil to synthetic oil, it is recommended that you replace the oil and filter immediately afterward since it is conceivable that carbon deposits and other debris will be cleared out by the new oil. The use of synthetic oil does not imply that you may increase the duration between oil changes in your vehicle. The detergents and other ingredients decay with time, reducing the efficiency of the oil’s protection. Oil filter replacement should always be performed at the same time as oil replacement since the filter captures undesired material before it is circulated throughout the engine. The oil light should never, ever be activated while driving your automobile. It indicates that the oil pressure is low, which might result in catastrophic engine failure in a short period of time. Make it a practice to check the oil level in your engine on a regular basis – once a month for modern cars that are used seldom, or even weekly for older cars that are driven a lot.

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