UNDERSTANDING ENGINE OILS

Engine Oils

You may have heard the term ‘oil is the lifeblood of the engine’. The purpose of motor/ engine oils are to lubricate your engine & reduce the friction between the moving parts, therefore protecting & minimising wear of the components. It also cleans by preventing the build-up of sludge & removing contaminants. Another critical job of engine oil is to help to cool the engine by absorbing & transferring heat as it is pumped around the motor, where it is then cooled in the engine sump, before re-circulating again.

Different types of engine oils

Between the different types of engine oils, brands, viscosity & prices, knowing which engine oil is right for your vehicle can be can be overwhelming & confusing.  Your vehicle’s user manual will inform you of the weight (viscosity) of oil, how often you should change it, and how much oil you should put in, however you will still need to understand what type of oil to use & what all of the terms mean.

Mineral oil

This is your basic engine oil; it’s manufactured & different processes refine it in a factory and adjust the viscosity (thickness). It is quite simple, and because of this it is the most budget-friendly of oils. It does its required job, but does offer a lower quality protection than other types of engine oils.

Full-Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil is entirely man-made, manufactured in a factory, & is an extremely consistent, refined & quality product. It is a more expensive product than mineral oil, but ultimately a superior option for your engine performance. Synthetic oils also last longer than mineral oils & therefore last longer between oil changes. Synthetic engine oils move through the motor much faster than mineral oils, for a faster engine warm up time. This is one reason why a modern car does not need to warm up at idle, & can be driven straight after ignition.

Synthetic Blend Oil

Synthetic blend oils are a combination of both synthetic and mineral oils. They are a mid-range oil; not as beneficial as a full-synthetic oil, but better performing than a natural mineral oil. It is an affordable option for those looking for a better protection than a mineral oil, but are not concerned with the optimum advantages of a more expensive full-synthetic oil.

Engine oil numbers/ Viscosity

Each oil is ranked by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) with a number that measures and reveals the viscosity (thickness) of the oil. The higher the number, the thicker the oil is. However, the numbers also refer to temperatures. The first number refers to the viscosity grade in cold weather (the number followed by ‘W’; standing for Winter) & the second number shows the viscosity of the oil when it is at 100 degrees Celsius. Typically, the lower the first number, the easier it will flow on start up. In general, oil’s viscosity will decrease as it heats up. If the oil is too thick it will take longer to pump through the engine, too thin and its lubricating & protecting ability may be less under heavier engine load conditions. So for example; a 10W-30 rating means an oil has a viscosity grade of 10 in cold temperatures, and 30 when heated up. A 10W-30 is thicker than a 5W-30 because it has a higher viscosity in low temperatures. If you were comparing two oils with a different end number (for example 5W-20 vs 5W-30) the 20  would be thinner at operating temperatures, while the 30 would be thicker. A 5W-30 oil would provide better lubrication compared to a 10W-30. It is better suited for private-use vehicles and light-duty diesel and petrol engines, while a 10W-30 is more suitable for commercial vehicles and other vehciles with heavy-load engines.

Oil Change

A regular oil change is essential to keep your vehicle healthy & running smoothly. Over time, the engine accumulates dirt and sludge build-up, and old oil can become gluggy & thick, with a slime-like consistency which will reduce efficiency. If left too long, & sludge build up is extreme, it can cause engine wear & blockages, & can lead to the need for a total engine replacement. The simplest way to check if there is engine sludge is to remove the oil cap from your engine and check under it. Signs your vehicle may be due for an oil change is performance decreasing, the oil colour becoming darker, (it will typically be gold & translucent when new, but more black and opaque with age) and the texture becoming thicker/ gluggier or grittier.

Service you can trust

  • The most important action you can take is to ensure you keep up to date with your manufacturer’s recommended services schedule.
  • We complete an engine oil change & oil filter change at every basic service (every 6 months or 10,000km; whichever comes first).  We follow manufacturer’s guidelines and only use quality oils.
  • If your vehicle is due for a service or you need an oil change, contact Burleigh’s Mobile Mechanic on 0412 161 776 & speak to one of our friendly technicians.
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