Auto Super Shoppes Gore – Look on the shelves in auto parts stores and you’ll see oils labeled for all kinds of specific purposes: high-tech engines, new cars, higher-mileage vehicles, heavy-duty/off-road SUV’s. In addition, you’ll see a wide selection of viscosities.
If you read your owner’s manual, you’ll know what the car manufacturer recommends for a brand-new vehicle. The manual may include a reference to Energy Conserving oils, which simply means that the oil has passed a lab test against a reference oil. It’s no guarantee of better fuel economy, but most of the leading brands have at least some viscosities that are so labeled. Let’s take a look at the different types.
How to Choose Between Synthetic and Conventional Motor Oil
Premium Conventional Oil
This is the standard new-car oil. All leading brands have one for service level SL, available in several viscosities. The manufacturers usually specify a 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil, particularly for lower temperatures, with a 10W-30 oil as optional, particularly for higher ambient temperatures. These three ratings cover just about every light-duty vehicle on the road. Even more important, though, is changing the oil and filter regularly. A 6,000 km or 6 months interval is good practice. The absolute minimum is twice a year. If your car has an electronic oil-change indicator on the instrument cluster, don’t exceed its warning.
Full Synthetic Oil
The oils made for high-tech engines, whether in a Chevy Corvette or Mercedes-Benz, are full synthetics. If these oils pass stringent special tests (indicated by their labeling), it means they have superior, longer-lasting performance in all the critical areas, from viscosity index to protection against deposits. They flow better at low temperatures and maintain peak lubricity at high temperatures. So why shouldn’t everyone use them? Answer: These oils are expensive and not every engine needs them. In fact, there may be some features that your car’s engine needs that the synthetics don’t have. Again, follow your owner’s manual.
Synthetic Blend Oil
These have a dose of synthetic oil mixed with organic oil, and overall are formulated to provide protection for somewhat heavier loads and high temperatures. This generally means they’re less volatile, so they evaporate far less, which reduces oil loss (and increases fuel economy). They’re popular with drivers of Ute’s/SUV’s who want the high-load protection. And they’re a lot less expensive than full synthetics, maybe just pennies more than a premium conventional oil.
Higher Mileage Oil
Today’s vehicles last longer, and if you like the idea of paying off the car and running the mileage well into six figures, you have another oil choice, those formulated for higher-mileage vehicles. Almost two-thirds of the vehicles on the road have more than 100,000 km on the odometer. So the oil refiners have identified this as an area of customer interest, and have new oils they’re recommending for these vehicles.
When your car or Ute/SUV is somewhat older and has considerably more mileage, you may notice a few oil stains on the garage floor. It’s about this time that you need to add a quart more often than when the vehicle was new. Crankshaft seals may have hardened and lost their flexibility, so they leak (particularly at low temperatures) and may crack. The higher-mileage oils are formulated with seal conditioners that flow into the pores of the seals to restore their shape and increase their flexibility.
If you have an older vehicle, all of these features may mean more to you than what you might get from a full synthetic, and at a fraction the price.
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