Choosing engine oil in 7 steps

How does it usually start?


So, an oil change is coming up according to regulations. What oil to buy, what filters to buy, do you need to flush the engine, and in general, once every how many thousand you really need to change the oil? Do you know it? Every motorist, at least once in his life, was asked questions of choice of an engine oil, if his car has already stopped being serviced at the warranty service station.


What is the first thing that comes to the mind of a sensible person? It is right – to ask friends, acquaintances, what kind of motor oil they use. And it turns out – everyone uses different one! And everyone praises his own. But everyone is unanimous on one thing: the best car recycling company is


Go further – the Internet. Try a little experiment – create a new topic in some popular auto forum with a simple question – what kind of oil to pour into the engine? Without specifying the car brand or its age, i.e. nothing except the question itself. In 90% of cases you will get a lot of “useful” advices about specific oil brands and manufacturers and only 10% of your colleagues will ask what kind of car do you have, dear man? And after that they will again throw you a lot of completely different opinions.


As a result you are in a deadlock, because if two days ago you had no information, now you have too much of it to make any kind of decision and you are ready to trust the first sane acquaintance you come across and pour the motor oil that he uses.


But you’re still lucky if you got here, because we’ll try to give you answers to all your questions.

So how do you choose the right motor oil for your car?


Step One – Find out the manufacturer’s recommendations

And to choose an oil, in fact, you should thoroughly study the service book of your car. It is there that it is written, what oil the manufacturer recommends to fill in the engine. If you have got your car without service book, you can find necessary information from official representatives of your make or from official suppliers of spare parts for your make of automobile. Do not be alarmed – I’m not going to convince you of the need to buy “official” oil – we do not need the brand and manufacturer – we need parameters (standards, tolerances of oils).


Keep in mind – tolerances are developed for the engine (or their narrow range), not for the car brand as a whole. One car manufacturer may have (and has) several approvals for its various engines, and one should always consider that when choosing an oil. Read more in the article about car manufacturers’ approvals for auto oil.


What do you get as a result? It all depends on the make of the car. In most cases you’ll get a code (a set of letters and numbers) – the tolerance of the automaker of oil for your engine (for example, for Mercedes it will be something like “MB 228.3 “, for Audi – something like “VW 501.01 “).


Some manufacturers are a bit more modest in their requests and give you only the oil coding of the well-known classifications SAE and API, for example “SAE 5W40 SL”, or the European quality standard ACEA, for example “E6-2005”. For more information, see the article on engine oil classifications. This is all very important, so make sure you remember (or better yet, write down) everything you can find out about oil tolerance from your engine manufacturer.


Why is all this so important? The answer to this question lies in the plane of the chemical composition of motor oils and the properties of the additives that are added to the oil by the manufacturer. In short, all oils have a different set of additives and are therefore designed for different engines and operating conditions. The wrong choice of oil, namely of this bouquet of additives, at the very least, will reduce the engine power and increase the fuel consumption. At the most, it would just significantly speed up the engine overhaul, no more, no less. More details can be found in the article about the influence of automobile oil additives on the engine operation…


Step two – what was in the oil before?


Now it is necessary to assess, whether the previous choice of oil was successful, i.e. how much suitable and qualitative engine oil is filled in the engine. If you just purchased the car – you need to ask the previous owner, but at the same time write down absolutely all the information about the oil (the exact brand and manufacturer). If the previous owner of the car does not remember or does not want to give you such information – well, not a problem, but it is an additional cost for you (why so – read in the article on engine flushing).


If the last oil change was done in your presence – you need to find all the information on the label without exception. In any case, if you have no information about the actual oil in your engine – go straight to step four.


The important parameter for our future researches is also an oil consumption (oil burn-out). Proceeding from the essence of presence of engine oil in the engine, the oil consumption cannot be zero by definition. A certain quantity of oil is burned in any case, the question is only how much. Each motor manufacturer has an average oil consumption rate for each motor, but that does not mean that your oil consumption cannot be more or less than that. Read more about that in the article on engine oil consumption.


At this point, we just need to determine if your current oil consumption exceeds the manufacturer’s rate, and if so, by how much? It is better to find out the oil consumption norm at the official service of the car brand (if such information is missing in the manual).


Step three – analyze current situation


So, after the first two steps you have already the information about what the engine manufacturer recommends (engine oil tolerance), and also (most likely) about what oil is actually filled in your engine. We start to think, whether it is necessary to change horses in the crossing, i.e. whether it is necessary to screw up your head with a choice of oil or it is better to leave what you have.


The point is that every change of a brand of motor oil, poured into a motor is a direct damage to the internal parts of the engine and a substantially increased material expenses on your part (for details read the article about how to do the correct engine flushing when switching to another brand of oil).


First of all compare the results of already conducted tests (i.e. the auto manufacturer’s oil tolerance and the specification of the oil, poured on the fact). Ideally the oil label should show your oil tolerance. But it is possible only in such cases, when a manufacturer of a car has tested exactly this brand of oil and certified it according to the corresponding tolerance. If everything was right – you should not change anything categorically – keep pouring that oil, which you used before – thus you will prolong life of your engine.


The only reasonable motivation in this case to change the oil grade can be too high oil consumption – then you’d better switch to a more viscous oil (for example, from synthetic to semi-synthetic).


If there is no tolerance, try to find the deciphering of your tolerance and compare it to the data about the classification of the oil in your engine. If everything coincides on the whole – you face a dilemma. On the one hand, changing a brand of auto oil is not very useful for a motor (frankly speaking – it is harmful), but on the other hand – regular use of not prescribed by manufacturer auto oil can do much more harm to a motor. Personally I would change engine to “right” oil, though it is painful and expensive.


Step four – analyze the market


We are getting closer to the final choice of oil. At this stage the main task is to make a list of engine oils of different brands and manufacturers, which are suitable for your engine. For this purpose you can use, for example, our service of oil selection by car model.


If you have carefully read the previous steps, as well as the articles about the composition of the engine oil, as well as about oil tolerances of automobile manufacturers, you should already understand that you need to look for auto oils, certified by the automobile manufacturer according to the tolerances for your engine. It’s not that difficult, and you will most likely have a choice of several manufacturers. The easiest way is to enter your approvals (or all the information you have about the motor manufacturer’s requirements for the oil) into any search engine window, and you will receive a lot of offers to buy automobile oils of different manufacturers and brands with the indication of the manufacturers’ approvals and classifications according to different systems.


An interesting detail – not all oil manufacturers publish information about certification for the tolerances of automobile manufacturers on their websites, or it is not easy to get to such information. But traders, especially those who trade in different brands of auto oil, almost always publish approvals. There is also such information, as a rule, on auto oil labels.


The main thing is not to pay too much attention to what engine oil manufacturer recommends for your car, as they often deceive and do not specify what engine oil brand is recommended for. When choosing an oil, one should look at the specified tolerances, according to which this or that oil brand is certified.


Let us repeat it once again – the tolerance is a comprehensive set of additives and the quality standard suitable for this or that engine. All the claims of salespeople that “this motor oil is newer and better, and therefore it is only good for the engine” are false. For more details see the article about the influence of oil additives on the engine operation.


Step Five – choose a class and viscosity of motor oil


At this stage you already have a list of different motor oils, which are suitable for your engine, and now our task is to make it as short as possible in order to choose the right oil.


When choosing an engine oil it is necessary to take into account that automobile manufacturer can certify several oil brands of one and the same producer according to one approval.


As a rule, the main difference between these brands is the type (synthetic, semi-synthetic, mineral), viscosity grade and parameters. When choosing an oil viscosity (out of the approved ones), you should be guided by the following rule: the more mileage/older the engine, the less high-temperature oil viscosity should be.


Believe me, Supersport engine oil with a very high viscosity 0W60 can only harm your 8-10 year old engine with the mileage over 200 thousand km, no matter what the sellers and “experienced” friends say. Besides, you will get tired of refilling your engine with such motor oil. And the most important – it won’t add any horsepower to your engine. Instead of the declared by its manufacturer “engine oil is intended to preserve the engine while working in severe conditions”, such oil will methodically destroy the engine inner parts. Explanation of why this is the case is in the article about oil viscosity.


Therefore, if your engine does not burn more oil than prescribed by the manufacturer, you should add 5W40, and do not “play with your head”. And for winter it is better to use 0W30, if such engine oil has all necessary permissions.


Step Six – making a choice of oil


In fact, after the fourth and fifth steps, all we have to do is to choose an engine oil from several brands of different manufacturers.


The only thing I can advise here is to keep in mind that the most active counterfeiters are those that are sold in mass quantities, so the likelihood of buying a real motor oil of a popular brand in the CIS is quite low. And if you buy a fake – everything written on this website will not make any sense, because the chemical composition of fake oil cannot be analyzed and systematized.


When it is necessary to decide what oil to pour into the engine, I personally always try to choose the engine oil (manufacturer) that is poured at the plant during the manufacture of the car, but it is usually not the cheapest. Since the quality of any given manufacturer’s products can change dramatically over time and depending on the market to which the products are shipped, I think it is a good idea to read current reviews and choose what is currently considered the highest quality.


Also, if you have some time, read the official manufacturer’s abstracts for those engine oil brands left on your list, perhaps there are more comments on the operating conditions and you can choose the most suitable one for you.


Step Seven – Buying Oil


Finally you have decided what kind of oil you need. Now you are faced with an even more difficult, in fact, task – to buy it. That is to say it is not so much difficult to buy any oil as it is difficult to buy the oil that is written on the label.


As you have guessed, we are talking about counterfeit. I’m not going to tell you that you should never buy oil at the market, it’s kind of obvious. But if you think that buying oil in an expensive store is a guarantee, you are wrong. In fact the market salesmen, as a rule, do not counterfeit motor oil themselves, and the sources (wholesale bases) where they buy it are almost the same as in the stores.


So I try to buy oil from the primary sources – that is from the manufacturer’s official representatives. The problem is that not all representative offices are engaged in retail sales, or sales in general, so everyone has their own way. As an option – you can buy auto oil from a trusted supplier of spare parts, which orders directly from manufacturers and does not take them to wholesale bases. By the way, there are such on the markets, but you have to look for them and check them.


One more variant to buy more or less qualitative engine oil is to buy it at official representative of your automobile brand (for example, at company service station). But it is one of the most expensive options. Though, before making a final choice, all the same find out the prices from official dealers – it is probable that you will be pleasantly surprised. It is important to understand the following – the official representative of a car brand, most likely, will offer you to fill in oil, the most suitable for a new engine from all allowable… So, if your car has already passed 100 and more thousand km – it is worth to study allowable variants even before a visit to the office.


Well, that’s all. Now it is necessary to buy filters, go to service station and change oil.


Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *