Different Kinds of Motor Oil | Columbia, MD | AutoStream Car Care

Types of Motor Oil

Breaking the Motor Oil Code

Motor oil sounds simple. You need it to lubricate the moving engine parts of your car. You understand that clearly, but you may be confused about what to buy once you realize that there are different kinds of oil stored in bottles with various numbers and codes. The professional ASE certified technicians at AutoStream Car Care in Columbia, Maryland, can help you decipher all those letters and numbers. They’re trained to consult with you about your vehicle usage, driving habits, and manufacturer’s recommendations to choose the option that’s best for your car or truck.

Conventional, Synthetic, and High Mileage

Conventional, full synthetic, synthetic blend, and high mileage are the major categories of oil, but what are the similarities and differences between them? “Regular” lubricant–that extracted from the ground as liquid–is conventional oil. It is commonly used in newer cars (average engines with reasonable mileage). Full synthetic oil, on the other hand, is made of chemical compounds. These can be completely man-made components or derived from highly refined petroleum products. Its advantage is that it has a higher viscosity level (a measure of how well the oil pours at room temperature). This makes it cling well to the parts it needs to lubricate. However, it is much more expensive than conventional oil. Therefore, a good compromise is a synthetic blend. A mixture of conventional and synthetic oil, this lubricant offers many of the benefits of full synthetic at a lower price. Finally, older cars that are prone to leaks may benefit from high mileage oil because it contains additives to help protect the seals.

Deciphering the Code

The letters and numbers on the motor oil containers may seem very confusing–as if they’re written in code. Perhaps you’re wondering what it all means. The letters SAE refer to the Society of Automotive Engineers, the group that uses a system to describe engine oil’s viscosity. “W” stands for winter, and the numbers refer to the viscosity of oil at cold temperatures. Lower numbers thicken less than higher numbers in cold temperatures. The thicker the oil, the better it lubricates moving engine parts and the better it resists breakdown from the heat produced by friction between the metal parts. You can find information in your vehicle’s owner’s manual to guide you in your selection of motor oil. Or you can make the single decision to bring your car to AutoStream in Columbia, Maryland, where we can help you with all your oil and service needs.

Written by Doug Grills