Whether you or a business is doing it for you, choosing the right car oil, filter and maintenance interval was never more challenging. So how do you choose the best car oil and filter?
Even if you follow the oil grade and viscosity recommendations, you still have at least a dozen oil formulations to choose from. And oil filters come in as many flavors. You can buy a $ 14 filter with the highest dirt retention specifications and the longest mileage. But do you have to spend so much if you change your oil as planned? Then there is the problem of prolonged oil change intervals. Can you really go between 20,000 and 25,000 kilometers between oil changes?
We’ve contacted the Valvoline, Mobil 1, Pennzoil, Royal Purple, Fram and WIX Filters experts to provide you with up-to-date advice to bring to the bank. And we’ll kill some myths. But first, before you choose the best car oil and filter: a short lesson in the basics of engine lubrication.
Choose the best car oil and filter: what does the oil do?
Oil’s main task is to create an extremely thin damping film to separate metal components and prevent contact as the parts rotate and strike against each other. Inside the combustion chamber, the oil film acts as a sealant to close the gap between the piston rings and the cylinder wall. This constant sliding, impact and shear friction generates heat. The second task of the oil is therefore to dissipate the frictional heat and to cool the metal parts.
Next, oil must clean the engine and transport dust, dirt, combustion byproducts (soot and acid), and the remains of degraded oil to the filter to be captured. In addition, oil must neutralize acids, prevent corrosion of the metal and remain foaming, as swirling parts blow in air. And it contains antioxidants to protect you from failures.
Oil does all these things. But first it has to circulate. To do that, it has to flow well. And it gets complicated. Thin oil (5 pieces) pumps well when it’s cold. But it gets thinner when it’s hot, making it harder to maintain a cushioning film. Thicker oil (30 weight), on the other hand, maintains a strong cushioning film that does not thinner when hot. But it’s almost impossible to pump when it’s cold.
In order to get the best of both worlds, automakers provide a multi-viscosity oil (for example 5W-30). It is thin and pumps when it is cold, but thickens when it heats up (see “Regular Oil vs. Synthetic” in the slides below). Engineers determine exactly which viscosity range is best for a particular engine.
Always follow the manufacturer’s viscosity recommendation
Apart from neglect, the use of the wrong oil viscosity is the most common cause. And most of this wear occurs during cold starts. What is a cold start? If your vehicle has not been running for three or more hours, it’s cold – even if you live in Arizona!
The recommendations of the car manufacturer are stamped in your or directly on the oil filler cap. Never guess the car manufacturer’s recommendations, even if your all-rounder says oil with a different viscosity works better. Ignore the recommendations of the car manufacturer at your own risk.
Get rid of old oil
Oil has a shelf life of about five years. So, if you bought a truckload of oil 20 years ago, do not think that you can pour it into your current vehicle. Oil is broken down in the can or bottle when it is sitting in your garage.
Ask the experts: High mileage
Q: My car has big miles and my buddy told me to change from 5W-30 to 20W-50 oil to get a better piston seal.
A: A 20W-50 oil provides better piston-to-cylinder film strength. But it will cause more engine wear on a cold start. Instead, use a high mileage (HM) 5W-30 oil and get the same protection when starting and better film strength when it’s hot.
Fill only up to the top line on the dipstick
Overfilling the crankcase is really bad for your engine. Even if your engine runs out or burns oil and you are tired of overfilling it, overcrowding is not the answer. An overfilled engine will cause excessive oil consumption that can destroy the catalyst (about $ 1,000 for repair). And if the oil level is too high, rotating engine parts turn air into it and turn it into foam. Foam does not lubricate or cool, causing engine parts to overheat, wear out, and fail.
Wrong oil is better than no oil
You should do it. But most of us are not. If you’re driving a leak or an oil burner and you’re critical of oil, you need to act fast or that can destroy the engine. If you can not find the right oil in the nearest convenience store, it’s better to add the wrong oil than to continue with oil vapor. Take a bottle of multi-viscosity oil that comes closest to the manufacturer’s recommendation and re-pour the oil level. If you only 1 qt. Added, you can wait until the next oil change. But if you’ve added 2 or more quarts of the wrong oil, use your vehicle soon for an oil change. Oh, and fix the leak that caused the low oil condition.
Ask the experts: Are oil brands important?
Q: My engine needs oil. I have a bottle with the right viscosity and the current “SN” rating, but it’s a different brand. Can I use it to top up my engine?
A: Mixing different brands is fine.
Oil for cars with high mileage
High-Mileage (HM) oil contains seal conditioners that rejuvenate brittle aged seals. And it contains additives to improve film strength when the oil is hot. Depending on the brand, HM oil may also contain more anti-corrosive, acid-neutralizing and anti-wear additives. If you have a high-mileage engine and want to keep it going, then HM oil is worth the price.
Ask the Experts: Synthetic Oil Kilometer Q: If I switch to synthetic oil, can I extend the drain intervals?
A: If your vehicle is covered by a factory or extended warranty, you MUST even follow the manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals with synthetic oil. If you are not under warranty, contact the oil manufacturer for the recommended drain intervals.
What is the difference between ordinary oil and synthetic oil?
Regular oil is a natural, mineral material with different sized molecules. These ball bearings give you the picture. Imagine, you are trying to glide on them!
Synthetic oil is made from oil and gas, which are broken and reassembled molecule by molecule. The molecules are of uniform size so that the oil pumps better when it is cold and retains a strong film when it is hot.
Ask the experts: Change from conventional to synthetic
Q: I would like to switch to synthetic and read that because plastics have better detergents, I first have to flush my motor with solvents.
A: Just turn off the switch – never flush your engine with solvents.
Buy a good filter for synthetic oil
Oil filter manufacturers usually make several types of filters – good, better, best. If you use a mineral oil and change it and your filter according to schedule, you no longer have to spend on a better filter. But if you use a synthetic oil or intend to go longer between oil changes, buy a top-of-the-line brand filter.
Ask the Experts: Cartridge Filters Q: What is the difference between installing a cartridge filter and conventional oil filters?
A: Many newer engines use a cartridge filter instead of a spin-on design. Always note the position of the O-ring when removing the cap and replace it with the new O-ring in the filter box. Lubricate the O-ring with oil and use a torque wrench that meets the manufacturer’s specifications to tighten the cap.
Mark the contact position when installing a new oil filter
Loose filters are the main cause of oil leaks. Follow the tightening instructions on the packaging. Continue to rotate until the gasket touches the mounting surface. Draw a line on the filter in the 12 o’clock position. (A white pencil is good for black or other dark-colored filters, black felt-tip pens work well on brighter filters.) Hand tighten the recommended number of turns and then stop.
Bigger oil filters are not necessarily better
Oil filters are application specific. Do not think that you will get better filtering if you use a larger filter just because it fits the threads of your engine. It may have a different filter media, flow rate, or bypass valve value than the correct filter. Do not second-guess the filter manufacturer.
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