How to Choose the Right Motor Oil for Your Car

Best place for an oil change

The more you know about motor oil, the more likely you are to choose the best option for your car. And the higher quality the motor oil you put inside your car, the longer your car is set to run. But how can you determine what’s high-grade, high-performance oil from the junk that doesn’t quite meet American Petroleum Institute standards? It’s all about looking at the bottle before you buy motor oil.

Though it should go without saying, the best motor oil is the one that has the highest grade, and that information should be printed right on the bottle. Look for the API service rating, which should tell you how high-quality the oil is, as well as what kind of engines the oil is meant for. Most consumer autos run on gasoline and most large trucks run on diesel, so it’s important to take note of the distinction before you put the oil into your ride.

Another thing you’ll need to understand before you pick the right motor oil is viscosity. This particular term is used to measure the thickness of oil; for example, lower-viscosity oils will be more fluid and higher-viscosity oils will be thicker and sludgier like honey. The wrong type of oil can be disastrous for your engine because of how the particular American Petroleum Institute standards are put in place to prevent those types of auto malfunctions. On its own, motor oil tends to thicken the colder the outside air and thin out when the engine reaches higher temperature.

Just because you think your engine could use a bit more oil doesn’t mean you should go overboard with the quantity. In fact, too much oil inside an engine can cause major engine problems, so that should be avoided at all costs. Instead, really learn the ins and outs of your car in order to successfully perform an oil change yourself, or take it into a local shop and let the pros handle it. In either case, always inquire about oil that meets American Petroleum Institute standards and is recycled as both are more environmentally friendly, sustainable options.

A commonly asked question is, “How often should I change my oil?” You might have heard this rule of thumb before: every three months or every 3,000 miles — whichever comes first. But studies have shown that’s not necessarily true anymore. As newer cars are improving in both quality and performance, cars from only five or seven years ago might not need maintenance that frequently. It’s best to keep an eye on your mile gauge though, or talk to the experts at your local shop. More research here.

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