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What Oil Should I Put In My Car

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The Best Winter Engine Oil

What Oil Should You Put in Your Car?

Now that you understand the different weights and types of oil, its time to select the best winter engine oil for your vehicle. Which oil is best for your car and your geographic location? The exact brand and type of oil depends on your vehicle and driving style, but dual-grade oils are the best options for winter engine oil because they are more versatile and ready to work at low temperatures. You can find oils that are made for your engine by entering your vehicles information to use our oil type lookup. Whether you face sub-zero temperatures or barely reach freezing during the winter, choose a dependable oil for your vehicle in order to avoid engine damage and undue friction.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-Tos are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZones knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

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Whats Synthetic All About

Among all oil brands, exactly what synthetic oil is can be confusing. It sounds like its made entirely in a lab, but much of it if not most contains some dinosaur juice, whether as its base, or extracted from natural gas. It can be difficult to know for sure, since the label doesnt have to specify exactly how synthetic an oil is, and most oil manufacturers dont divulge exactly how they create their products, since they use proprietary processes.

What Are Severe Conditions

  • Cars generally travel less than 12km per journey
  • When oil is not regularly topped up
  • When the car operates under stop start conditions
  • When youre pulling heavy loads such as caravans
  • If the engine is heavily modified, sees regular track days or drag strip outings
  • For most people, normal city driving would actually qualify as severe which means you do need good quality oil.

Supercheap Auto stocks just about every type of oil in existence and every tool you need to do the job. Visit your local Supercheap Auto oil section today to save some money and your engine.

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What Does All Of This Mean

When you pick up a bottle of engine oil, youll probably notice the viscosity rating first. This will look something like SAE 10W-40. Stick to what your car manufacturer recommends, unless you are driving in extreme temperatures.

Specifications will probably be on the back of the bottle and may look something like API SL/SJ/CF. Remember, the S means petrol, the C means diesel, and the second letter indicates the quality. An ACEA specification will look something like ACEA A3, B3, B4.

The type of oil will also be clearly printed on the front of the bottle. Most new cars will take synthetic oil, which tends to be a little more expensive than semi-synthetic and mineral oil. However, its important that you dont attempt to cut costs by buying a cheaper type of oil.

If in doubt, drop in to your nearest mycar and well be happy to help you out!

So Why Does Oil Need To Be Changed

What Oil Should I Put in My Car?

If your oil level is low, you can top it up.

Basically, it wears out.

As time and kilometres pass, the hard-working oil becomes less able to reduce friction.

Thats why carmakers specify the correct time interval or kilometres-travelled figure to let you know its time to change the oil before any damage can be done.

Which is also when most people suddenly start asking questions about oil.

The other reason to buy oil is to top up the level in the cars engine.

Some cars consume some oil between oil changes and, if its enough, you need to top up the level.

Checking the dipstick under the bonnet is the traditional way to do this, but some modern cars have electronic measuring systems and will even alert you if the level has fallen too far.

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Choosing Synthetic Or Conventional Oil

Oil can be synthetic or conventional, or even a blend of the two. Find out what type of oil youre currently using and determine whether you want to upgrade to a different oil type or continue to use the same, reliable option.

Conventional oil is the most cost-effective option. Unless youre driving in extreme conditions or driving a luxury vehicle with a high-tech engine, you should be able to find a suitable conventional oil for your engine. Synthetic oil, on the other hand, is the purest, most premium oil on the market. Synthetic oil continues to flow at a reliable rate through a wider range of temperatures, making it an ideal option for high-speed driving or for winter travel.

For a better balance between synthetic and conventional oil, you can choose a synthetic blend. This balanced option gives you a reasonable range of use without the price tag of full synthetic.

If you do your winter driving in a vehicle with more than 75,000 miles on the odometer, then the best choice for you is high-mileage oil. This rugged option still comes in oil weights suitable for cold temperatures, but also is designed to last longer. Typical conventional oil may not be suitable for vehicles who have clocked in over 75,000 miles. Choose a specialized oil designed for higher mileage use to keep your engine running strong.

How To Choose The Right Oil For Your Car

To say theres a lot of variety when it comes to engine oils is an understatement.

If youve ever stood before shelves of engine oils and felt overwhelming confusion, youre not alone. Each type of oil serves a different driving style, car make, and even different climates, so picking the correct one will help your car run at its full potential.

Were here to break it down for you so that by the end of this article youll understand Australias engine oil classification systems, oil viscosity ratings, API and ACEA standards, and the various types of oils available.

Not sure which oil is right for your car? Please call our expert team on or find your nearest store.

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Check The Level Of Oil

Checking the level of your oil is essential for knowing whether you need to add more oil to your engine or not. If your engine runs out of oil, it can immediately fail because the engine parts will grind against each other. If your engine has too much oil, it can flood the engine or damage the clutch.

So, monitoring the level of your oil can save you a lot of time and money in unnecessary repairs. And it only takes a few steps to complete this task.

Materials Needed

  • Clean cloth

Step 1: Pull hood release lever. In order to check your oil, you need to open the hood of your car. Most cars have a lever located somewhere beneath the steering wheel and near the foot petals. Simply pull on the lever and your hood will open. If you cant find the lever, check your owners manual for its location.

Step 2: Undo safety latch, open hood. After releasing the hood, youll need to undo the safety latch that prevents your hood from opening on its own. Normally, the safety latch can be undone with a lever under the ledge of the hood. This will allow you to fully open the hood.

Step 3: Prop open hood. Prop the hood open so that you arent injured by the hood falling down. Some cars have hoods that will stay open on their own with hood shocks however, if yours does not, youll need to make sure you secure it so that you can safely check the oil.

What Do Motor Oil Viscosity Ratings Mean

Synthetic Oil vs Conventional Oil – Which Type For Your Car Engine

The SAE viscosity rating, or viscosity grade, represents motor oils fluidity and performance at high and low temperatures. The typical format will be something like 5W-30.

The first number preceding the W typically represents the oils thickness at 0OF . Lower numbers mean the oil runs freer in cold weather.

For example, 0W-20 can flow better at low temperatures than 10W-30.

The second number represents the oils characteristics at running temperatures and is usually rated around 212OF . The higher this second number, the more resistant the car oil is to thinning. For example, 10W-40 is thicker at higher temperatures than 10W-30.

Viscosity ratings apply across all types of motor oil, whether traditional oil or synthetic oil. And the most common oil youll find in modern cars is the 5W-30 or 10W-30.

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What Does Engine Oil Do

Oil lubricates the moving parts in your vehicle’s engine. Combustion generates high levels of heat and friction which oil helps to negate. The metal would smash and grind together as it powered your car if the engine ran dry. In essence, your car wouldn’t run without oil. So if you don’t change your oil regularly, or use the wrong type of oil, you can face a hefty repair bill.

How To Choose Between Synthetic And Conventional Motor Oil

Premium Conventional Oil: This is the standard new-car oil. All leading brands have these oils, which are available in several viscosities and tested under the latest API service level. Automakers usually specify a 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil for colder temperatures, with a 10W-30 oil as optional for higher ambient temperatures. These three ratings cover most light-duty vehicles on the road. Even more important, though, is changing the oil and filter regularly. We recommend changing your oil every 4,000 miles or four months. The absolute minimum is twice a year. If your car has an electronic oil-change indicator on its instrument cluster, follow its guidance instead and be sure to reset it once your oil change is done.

Full Synthetic Oil: Oils made for high-tech engines or heavy-duty uses, be it a Ford F-150 that tows frequently or a Chevrolet Corvette with the latest supercharged LS engine, are full of synthetic additives. These oils labels indicate whether theyve passed stringent special tests for 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 viscosity at high temperatures. So, why shouldn’t everyone use them? These oils are expensive and not every engine needs them. There may even be some features that your engine needs that synthetic oils don’t have. Again, follow the guidance in your owner’s manual.

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Oil Filter Change Can Affect The Amount Of Oil Needed For Your Car

An oil change almost always goes hand-in-hand with an oil filter change. This is to make sure that no debris and other contaminants will be present in the new lubricant. Replacing the oil filter also has an effect on the final amount of motor oil needed for the engine.

For example, a V6 engine may require about 3 and 7/8 quarts of motor oil if you do not replace the oil filter. If you also change the oil filter, you will need about 4 and ¼ quarts of oil.

The difference accounts for the oil that is present inside the oil filter. This is equivalent to about 3/8 quarts. If you do not replace the oil filter, then you risk contaminating the new oil with the old oil.

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What Are Engine Oil Specifications

Should I Put Synthetic Motor Oil in My Car?

Not all engines are the same, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that oils aren’t the same either. The specification is another way that engine oils differ.

Car manufacturers and oil companies work together to agree performance specifications for engine oils. There are several different sets of standards around the world:

  • The American Petroleum Institute
  • The European Automobile Manufacturers Association
  • The International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee , or
  • The Japanese Automotive Standards Organization JATO.

Modern car engines need oils that are really durable, and last for thousands of miles between services. Modern oils protect against corrosion and sludge formation, and contain detergent additives to keep the engine clean.

Later specification oils are usually, but not always, suitable for older cars, while older specification oils shouldnt be used in newer cars.

Car manufacturer’s specifications

Many car manufacturers develop their own engine oil specifications. Most notable are Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, but BMW, GM, Porsche, PSA and others also have their own.

More and more often, these are very specialised ‘long life’ oils designed to support very long intervals between services.

  • If your car’s handbook quotes the manufacturer’s own specification, you must look for this on the oil container.
  • The manufacturer may also give an acceptable equivalent ACEA or API specification, though this might be for ’emergency top-up only’.
ACEA specifications


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What Oil Does My Car Take

When picking an oil for your engine parts, the most important thing to consider is the oils viscosity .

And your best guide to selecting an engine oil is the vehicle owners manual.

Remember, the owners manual:

  • Will define the engine oil viscosity and type that the car manufacturer recommends
  • May include details for cold or hot climate and seasonal use
  • May include alternative-weight oils if you cant get hold of the exact product needed

But what can you do if the manual is missing?

Dont panic.

There are still answers to be found:

  • The oil-filler cap on top of your engine may list the viscosity rating.
  • The car manufacturer may apply a small decal under the hood, noting the viscosity grade needed.
  • You can check with your vehicle dealership for its engine oil recommendation.
  • The oil section in a parts store sometimes has a chart listing vehicle makes and models and the right oil for them.
  • Some oil companies offer online databases to search for the right oil for your vehicles make and model.

And if all these dont yield any answers, you can still consult a professional mechanic for help.

Next, lets get into some detail regarding motor oil selection.

Choosing The Right Oil

  • 1Use the oil recommended in the owner’s manual. There are not too many reasons to switch from the recommended oil in the owner’s manual, but that oftentimes doesn’t make buying oil any easier. Understanding the different numbers and ratings on motor oil packaging will make you a better consumer and can help keep your car running smoothly.XResearch source
  • 2Understand how to read oil viscosity. Viscosity represents a fluids thickness, or resistance to flowing. A high viscosity is less likely to flow smoothly because it is thicker . There are two numbers for viscosity of an oil, represented in combination, like 10W-30 or 20W-50. The first number, with the W, is for the winter temperature of the oil. This tells you how well it flows in cold weather when it the oil is thicker. The second number is how well the oil maintains its thickness in heat.
  • The first number should be at least 5W or lower if you live in very cold areas , as oil can get too thick for the car to start if the winter viscosity is too high.
  • Your owner’s manual will have a recommended viscosity rating for your car. If there is only one number, as found in some older cars, your car uses a “single-weight” oil.XResearch source
  • Some certifications change as the get more modern. The current API designation is SL, though it has been SJ and SI before. Again, refer to your manual for your car.
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    Differences Between Synthetic And Mineral Oils

    The main two types of engine oil are synthetic and mineral oils.

    Mineral oils are the product of refining crude oil, removing contaminants, unwanted hydrocarbons and other natural substances. The first motor oils to be developed, theyre designed to be used on older, less advanced vehicle models, and as a result are lower-performance compared to newer, synthetic oils. Nevertheless, they are some of the cheapest lubricants available, and in the case of vintage and classic vehicles, are usually recommended by manufacturers.

    Synthetic oils are formed from highly chemically modified mineral oils, or are oils with entirely synthetic formulations. Featuring far fewer impurities to mineral oils and loaded with additives to boost their lubricating power, synthetics anti-corrosion, anti-oxidation, anti-wear and detergent effects are far greater than traditional lubricants. Its because of this that theyre often the recommended motor oils for high-performance, technologically advanced vehicles and equipment.

    Halfway between the two varieties are semi-synthetic oils. Not as advanced as pure synthetics yet offering greatly improved performance compared to mineral oils, theyre used as everyday oils for practical modern vehicles.

    So What Should I Use Then

    How to Change the Oil in Your Car (Everything You Need to Know)

    We could dedicate a dozen posts to the answer, but since this is a 101, heres the simplest solution: Check your vehicle owners manual.

    It will spell out exactly what oil you should use, complete with viscosity and GL values specific to your vehicle.

    Bottom line: To avoid transmission damage, you must consider several factors when selecting your gear oil.

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    How To Top Up The Oil In Your Car

    Patrick Haas

    Regular car maintenance can make a huge difference with keeping your vehicle in good condition. For major repairs and special jobs, hiring a professional mechanic from Your Mechanic is a simple and convenient solution, but there are a few small tasks that all drivers can do to keep their car running at its best.

    One of those small but important tasks is making sure theres enough oil in your engine and to add any if its low. Newer cars have sensors to let the driver know if the oil is low, but its still a good idea to check the oil regularly. This should be done about once per month. And dont worryeven if youre one of those drivers who wouldnt dare peak under the hood of your car, well show you how to add oil to your engine in a few simple steps.

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