Those of us in the automotive service and repair business understand why having oil in a vehicle’s engine is important, but few drivers actually understand the labeling and codes that are found on motor oil packaging. At Certified Auto Specialists we are very conscientious about using the correct oil for each vehicle and there are many different types out there. Sometimes consumers wonder why the pricing is different on their oil change from car to car…this is the reason why. Different makes and models require different oils.
The Bare Bones of Oil
Most everyone understands that engine oil keeps the engine parts lubricated in both low and high temperatures and it helps protect the emission system and provides enhanced fuel economy. They have heard for years that engine oil is the lifeblood of a vehicle. Many find out the importance of oil at an early age because they mow lawns. Additives are added to the oil to make sure seals stay conditioned in older car’s engines or to help aid in better fuel economy. Manufacturers of the most popular makes and models basically deal with three types of motor oil.
Conventional oil, or refined crude oil makes up 75 percent to 80 percent of the mix, and then additives are put into the mix to distinguish one type of conventional motor oil from another. Full synthetic oil is a popular alternative to conventional oil and its purpose is to provide enhanced engine protection. It enables a car’s engine to maintain good viscosity at all temperatures, although it also has characteristics that prevent solidification at lower temperatures. The third type is a blend of synthetic with conventional.
The various additives are necessary to engine performance. These additives include such ingredients as detergents, antioxidants, viscosity index improvers and many more. Their functions do everything from stopping oil oxidation, keeping the oil at the right thickness, to keeping high-temperature surfaces clean. They also collect dirt and contaminants to prevent buildups on engine parts. Additives for older cars are also available and they have special seal conditioning ingredients that rejuvenate internal seals in order to stop internal oil leaks and also help to keep the seals soft enough to be pliable.
The American Petroleum Institute (API)
To avoid confusion about motor the various motor oils, the API has developed a “donut” label that helps certified technicians and shop managers make educated decisions. For example, “API Service GF4” means that the motor oil is approved for use in most gasoline engines by API. The middle of the donut should say “SAE,” and is followed by a code such as 5W-30. SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers, and the number code refers to the motor oil’s viscosity.
Viscosity simply refers to the oil’s flow capability at various temperatures. It also refers to as the motor oil’s weight, or the “W” in the code. The first number shows how well an engine will start in cold weather. The lower the number tells us that this oil will start up in winter weather, and shows us how well engine parts will be lubricated in colder temperatures. The second number indicates the high-temperature viscosity or how much thickness the oil has at high temperatures. The bottom half of the donut indicates that the oil has met or exceeded energy conserving requirements.
Make Sure Your Shop is Certified
How can you know that the motor oil you’re getting from your provider is really intended for use in all vehicles? An ASE Certified Shop knows what oil to use in each vehicle it services. That is why we go to continuing education classes…so we are up to the minute to provide our customers with the right products for their cars, SUV’s and light trucks. Improvements are being made all the time and we have to stay current in this constantly changing industry we specialize in.
Using the Wrong Oil
If a shop or quick lube uses the wrong oil in your vehicle you probably won’t notice an immediate problem but it will develop if it is repeated time and time again. Metal on metal contact or heat damage is serious and can cause major damage. It also lowers fuel economy. Our goal is to keep our customers’ cars healthy and running for many miles to come!
Please call us with any questions at 626-963-0814 or visit our website at www.CertifiedAutoCA.com.
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