When it comes to choosing oil for our car, we have many opinions at our disposal. From what the manufacturer tells us what our trusted mechanic tells us, through some brother-in-law of those who knows everything. This is something that creates confusion when making the correct decision.
Our engine’s oil is one of the key elements for our vehicle to function in the best possible way. The oil is responsible for the engine to prolong its life, maintain its power, increase its performance, and reduce the consumption of pollution generated by your vehicle. Therefore, it is always interesting to know the best oil that we can use in our engine. A decision has to do with different aspects, which we will be detailed throughout this article.
There was a long time in which oils were obtained directly from oil, like many other products we use daily. These oils are what are known as mineral-based and, although they were economical, they had the disadvantage of offering too basic lubrication.
As an alternative, synthetic oils have emerged. These employ a formulation designed in the laboratory by manipulating different chemical compounds. An approach that has the advantage of customizing what the oil offers us is based on the engine’s specific needs. This new approach opened the door to the creation of à la carte oils, which today is reflected in the different standards and types of oil that we have at our disposal.
When choosing, it is obvious that our recommendation goes through a synthetic oil, to have more efficient lubrication and better performance in terms of mileage. The minerals are reserved for very old vehicles, which, due to their characteristics, cannot take advantage of what synthetic oil offers. If in doubt, you can opt for a semi-synthetic oil, which mixes some mineral oil with this modern synthetic oil. Anyway, the manual of your vehicle will guide you on which oil to choose.
Which is better, the best 5W30 oil 10W40? What do these numbers and letters mean? Do I have to stick to them, or can I choose another oil? Three are common questions when buying one of these consumables for our engine that, except the first, have a simple explanation.
These numbers represent the values of the SAE scale on which a particular oil moves. This scale measures the viscosity of the oil, the “thickness” it has, or the degree of fluidity, as we want to see it. The advantage of modern oils is that all are multigrade, compared to the old monograde oils, of narrower fluidity. Therefore, they have a greater working temperature range. Thus, the first number of the scale would indicate the oil’s viscosity in cold or winter, so the Winter W is included. In contrast, the second parameter measures the hot fluidity, generally at 40 degrees. The more distant these two numbers are, the greater the range of temperatures over which the oil will work in optimal conditions, both when lubricating and if it is not a load for the engine,
This leads us to the question of which one to use. In general, the manufacturer will tell us what type of oil we should use by the SAE scale. It is reflected in the manufacturer’s manual regarding the corresponding scale. However, if the weather conditions are harsh, in terms of the cold or heat of the environment we drive, it may be convenient to change that SAE scale for a more adjusted one. This is something that can be recommended at the dealership itself or a trusted workshop.
Motor oils are increasingly specialized in terms of their requirements in terms of pollution and consumption reduction and what vehicle manufacturers expect from them. This is something that has given rise to a series of standards that are not always present in all oils.
Among these rules, we start talking about generals. These are the API and ACEA standards designed by the motor manufacturers associations of the United States and Europe, respectively. In both cases, they are standards that are always met, although in the case of ACEA 5, especially demanding, it is worth checking that it is met if our vehicle requires it.
The other set of standards found in motor oils are those established by the manufacturers. Since the engines are increasingly precise and have components that require specific lubrication, these standards must be present in the oil we buy. Among these are those of the Volkswagen group, the PSA group (Citroen and Peugeot), Porsche, BMW, or General Motors. If your vehicle is modern, it surely requires a specific standard.
Which is better, a white label oil or oil from a known manufacturer? We are facing a question similar to what we ask ourselves when we compare a well-known brand gas station at a low cost. In the case of oils, by SAE standards and other specific standards that we have mentioned, the basic formulation is usually the same for oils that have the same standards. Therefore, as long as the oil meets the standards that the engine requires, there would be no problem in resorting to a less known brand.
However, as with the fuels of large oil companies’ gas stations, it is usually customary for the manufacturing quality to be somewhat higher, especially in synthetic oils. This is perceived in some ingredients with a greater detergent and lubricant capacity, which can vary slightly to improve the engine’s performance and consumption. So the decision will have to do with the degree of demand and the intensity of use that we apply to this oil, as well as our budget.