How to choose the right oil for your car

Changing your vehicle’s oil and filter at the manufacturer’s recommended car service intervals is essential to keep your engine running smoothly and healthily, preventing premature wear and minimising the risks of breakdowns.

Oil flows through your engine from the oil pan, runs through the oil filter, and circulates throughout the engine to the spots that need lubrication to minimise friction and absorb heat. Also, the engine oil helps to keep the engine clean, removing debris caused by the wear of its internal components and the sludge created by the combustion process and the lubricant’s degradation. 

In modern cars, carbon buildup is more frequent due to the anti-contamination systems implemented in new engines to comply with anti-pollution laws. These devices recirculate oil fumes instead of expelling them through the exhaust, leading to faster oil contamination than older engines.

Engine oil is subjected to high temperatures, pressure, and stress, and once it comes in contact with the running engine, it’s also degraded by the passing of time. That’s why service intervals are expressed in kilometres or time.

There are three types of engine oils: mineral or standard, semi-synthetic, and synthetic.

  • Mineral or standard:

This is the oldest and cheapest oil type, and it’s still in the market to fulfil the maintenance needs of old vehicles. Standard oil was created for simple engine designs before the invention of semi-synthetic and synthetic blends. It was initially made from refined petroleum, hence the name. However, modern mineral oil contains additives and is better engineered than the traditional formulas.

One of its main characteristics is that it has a single viscosity level (monograde). Simply put, monograde oil has a single viscosity rating (for example, SAE 30). This means it reaches its ideal viscosity above 30°C; it’s thicker at lower temperatures, preventing it from flowing properly through the engine, and at higher temperatures, it becomes too thin, resulting in reduced protection. This oil degrades quickly and should be changed between 5,000 to 8,000 kilometres or every six months, whichever is sooner.

  • Semi-synthetic:

This oil type is made of petrol-refined oil with synthetic oil and additives, such as detergents, dispersants, and antioxidants, which help remove contaminants from the engine. These additives also help prevent clogging in small passages, such as hydraulic tensioners. Most semi-synthetic blends also feature anti-wear components that form a thin layer, protecting the engine’s internals from wear and tear and extending their lifespan. 

Semi-synthetic oils are multi-grade, for example, 10w40, which means that they maintain optimal viscosity over a wide range of temperatures. They remain thicker at lower temperatures to protect the engine when cold and gradually thin as it warms, ensuring effective lubrication under extreme conditions. Semi-synthetic oil is more expensive than mineral oil but less expensive than fully synthetic oil. Thanks to its properties, this type of oil can be used for 10,000 kilometres or a year, whichever comes first.

  • Synthetic oil

Synthetic oil is designed to provide ultimate protection and consistency across wider temperature ranges. It contains more and better additives than semi-synthetic blends and features anti-wear particles that attract metal and carbon to keep the engine clean and provide effective anti-clogging properties. 

Synthetic oil is also multi-grade and offers even broader temperature ranges, such as 5w40. Thanks to its advanced engineering, it keeps friction to a minimum and withstands extreme temperatures, increasing the engine’s fuel efficiency and performance. Synthetic oil is often recommended for high-performance and modern, delicate engines. It can be used for 15,000 kilometres or a year, whichever comes first. This oil type is the most expensive due to its technology and composition; however, it is worth every penny.

A car Service Plan through MotorHappy is available for vehicles that are less than 12 years old and have travelled for less than 250,000 kilometres. With this type of plan, all recommended car services are covered with an easy monthly payment plan. When you follow the recommended service intervals as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer, you can rest assured knowing that your car’s engine oil is changed on time, and the correct oil is used. 

Using the right oil for your car is vital to prevent breakdowns and headaches. Always use the oil recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. You can find your vehicle's type of oil and service intervals in the user’s manual. If in doubt, ask a dealer or a trusted mechanic. 

It’s important to mention that you should never use an inferior oil type than the one indicated by your vehicle’s manufacturer, but you can always upgrade your vehicle’s oil for better protection or to adjust it to the weather in which you drive. Before making any decision, always ask your dealer or trusted mechanic for advice on what oil is best to upgrade your engine oil effectively.

Previous Article

Mercedes-Maybach GLS SUV: Luxury Maximised

Next Article

The new Isuzu D Max X-Rider: Stands out from bakkie stereotypes

Need more help?

We're here to help.
Your privacy is important to us. To demonstrate our commitment, please refer to the MotorHappy notification which communicates how we process your personal information to comply with legislation.
Related Article