Motor oil surrounded by a thicket of claims and brands and numbers and Bs.
Let's figure out which one's right for your car and why.
First off, if you came here for another religious discussion over conventional oil versus synthetic, I'm sorry to disappoint you.
We're not going there.
After 30 years and probably 1000 videos online on that very topic, I'm sick of it.
We're gonna instead talk about practical issues when you're choosing the right oil, regardless of its synthetic or conventional formulation.
It all starts with your car's owner's manual.
Just look in there and it'll tell you what oil to use now here on the O for Crown Vic SAE 5W-20 will give your car the right protection in all conditions etc etc that's pretty simple except what is SAE 5W-20.
Before we decode that and some other various things on these bottles, I want to tell you I'm not in the crowd that says, I know better than the carmaker, what oil should go in my car.
That makes no sense.
The people that spent millions of dollars and spend 1000s of hours engineering your car's engine Have no stake in it going wrong.
They're not gonna see you again.
If that happens, they do know the right oil for your car.
I know this is gonna start a whole bunch of folks saying I know something they don't do.
I'm just Not among them.
Okay, the first thing you want to get right when you buy oil for your car is to buy it for the right kind of engine gas or diesel.
This is real fundamental right?
You might say, well diesel engines have a real punishing environment of high pressure and high heat.
They must have better oil.
I should put that in my gas engine.
Is not the case.
If you take some diesel oil and put it in your gasoline engine car, you're also introducing a bunch of additives and chemicals that are right for diesel but not right for gas engines.
In particular, this may result in some exhaust components that can damage your catalytic converter.
You don't want to go there you want to talk about an expensive oil change.
That's one way to get one.
Instead look for an oil that is rated s back here on this round label.
It's gonna be most of the oils you'll see at the auto parts store.
S means gas engine.
C is for diesel engines.
Okay now the big show this is the centre arena of oil choice.
Weight or viscosity, or you might call it thickness.
That's what you see expressed in these numbers, something slash something or something dash something.
And my car I said it was 5w 20.
Here, this is a bottle of Pennzoil 10w 40.
Here's some Valvoline 20w 50.
They have different combinations.
The first number is the viscosity at zero degrees Fahrenheit, okay?
The w means winter, in other words reminding you the first number is zero degrees Fahrenheit.
The second number is the viscosity at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly standard engine operating temperature It's the reference tempt the SAE Society of Automotive Engineers has chosen to use.
So you see that this oil and almost all of these have to viscosities a cold and hot you may say now how's that possible one oil two thicknesses.
Because of polymers they add those polymers react to different temperatures in different ways and can change the composition of this oil.
Now, you may say, wait a minute, I've taken hot oil out of my car and it's thinner than when it's cold.
What is this nonsense?
There's viscosity you can feel and there's viscosity at a chemical level.
And that's what's changing here on these numbers.
So you can't always tell on your fingertips.
If this stuff is actually gotten thicker when it got hotter.
You're not gonna see that The protection is what matters.
. Now the first thing people ask is, why would I want to put low number oils in my car less viscosity that must not protect the engine as well.
It's thin stuff.
There's a reason for that, and that's because today's modern engines Are engineered at such tight tolerances.
They don't tolerate thicker oils, they need something thinner for two reasons.
One, so when you start this guy up when it's cold, whatever the temperature is, that's considered cold.
You need to get the oil into all those metal surfaces quickly because that's the valley of death for an engine is a cold startup, especially after a day or two of sitting.
All the oils run out.
It's metal on metal up here in the valvetrain.
And maybe on the cylinder walls.
A thin oil gets up in there faster to do its job.
Also those tolerances you saw tight around a modern engine, a thick oil just can't get through there, to the degree it would need to at any temperature.
Thirdly, a thinner oil creates less resistance, if you will less impedance to all those parts moving in many cases that allows engines to get better fuel efficiency.
They just have less resistance to what they do for a living.
And that also trickles down to create better, emissions profile.
Fewer emissions, higher mpg, always go hand in hand.
So when you see a thin oil, this one is zero 20, that sounds ridiculous right?
The wind zero mean no viscosity, obviously it doesn't, but it is very thin and flowing, at cold temperatures and still.
Highly flowing at high, but it provides protection because of its chemical nature, not just its literal viscosity.
By the way, you may see some wells that don't have all this to number rigamarole on them.
They're out there at the auto parts store.
No, they are typically what you call straight weight.
Just 50 or 40 or what have you.
Those are for racing engines or for hot rodders who know exactly what they're doing and are willing to pay for things when something blows up.
This is not for the average everyday car which was designed for an oil that is multi grade.
That is going to work its way through a viscosity continuum.
As the temperatures change.
It also means I have the right additives For a vehicle.
We'll get to that in just a minute.
If you see straight weight move on.
This is for people who know exactly what they're doing with it.
Not to experiment with in your average car.
Okay, now the last part, and this is kind of an advanced course.
Most people never read this label.
But it's what they call the API doughnut, on the back of the oil bottle, that round thing with the bullseye in the middle.
The bullseye reiterate the weight of the oil, this is 0 20 on the front, 0 20 on the back.
Then across the top of the doughnut, this one says API service SN.
There's also SP, and those are about all you're gonna find in stores right now.
The letter the letter after the s and p, whatever comes next, the more modern the oil is, and what car is it relates to, as long as you buy a service level that is as contemporary as your car or a later or further down the alphabet, you're in good shape.
Don't go by sa or SB you couldn't find it today anyway, but that's from like the 30s and the 40s.
What this represents is the chemical composition of various additives in the oil which the engine designer counted on being there when the engines running, because oil does more than just keep metal off of metal.
It keeps sludge down in the engine, it drains away in a certain way.
It keeps seals and gasket edges condition And the engine designer is counting on you to use the right service level of those chemical additives.
So the engine is going to have them available for a nice long life.
So again, get a service rating that is up to what your car needs by its generation.
And we've got a chart right here of those years and what levels they correspond to Or later, you can't buy too new of an oil, if you will.
Here's SP, for example.
You could put SP oil in a car that needs SN, cuz this came later and is technically better stuff.
It's sort of recursive, it brings along the benefits of all the oils before it.
Okay, now you know more than you ever wanted to know about oils and how to read all these numbers, front and back.
Not too hard to remember not too hard to pick the right one.
The best thing about motor oil is when you buy an EV you'll never think about it again.
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