Motor Oil 101

No Comments

You know you need an oil change every 3,000 miles or whatever your owner’s manual stipulates, but do you really know motor oil? It’s pretty amazing if you ask us here at Accurate Auto. This simple fluid can literally extend the life of your car, truck or SUV. Let’s step into Motor Oil 101 class to learn more about why it has such an effect on your vehicle’s operation and lifespan.

What Is Motor Oil?

Motor oil, whether conventional or synthetic, is a lubricant that prevents friction and heat between moving engine parts. This keeps the parts moving freely which helps the engine run efficiently. In turn, the efficient operation reduces part wear and tear and increases fuel efficiency.

Conventional motor oil is made from crude. This organic substance is extracted from the earth’s layers. Synthetic motor oil is manmade in a laboratory. It’s made from chemical and natural substances to mimic conventional motor oil but with greater viscous properties.

Why Does My Motor Oil Need Changing?

Over time, engine heat deteriorates motor oil. This “thermal breakdown” basically means your oil loses viscosity and does not lubricate moving parts as well as it did when it was fresh. Old motor oil is oxidized; it’s thicker than it should be and also dirtier. This damages the engine.

What Does My Oil Filter Do?

Your vehicle’s oil filter is tasked with keeping the engine clean. It removes contaminants, dirt and impurities in the oil. As discussed above, dirty motor oil can damage your engine, so the oil flowing through it must be clean. The oil filter is in charge of that so it’s important it doesn’t get clogged.

What Is the Difference Between Conventional and Synthetic Motor Oil?

As mentioned previously, conventional motor oil is natural while synthetic motor oil is manmade. The primary differences between the two are cost and lifespan. Synthetic motor oil costs more because it contains additives to extend its life, but it also works better in extreme temperatures.

What Oil Terminology Do I Need to Know?

There are industry terms that you should know. Specifically

  • Additives and detergents are chemicals added to oil to increase its functionality
  • API Classification confirms standards set by certifying bodies in the petroleum industry
  • Dispersion is the point where oil suspends dirt
  • Multi-grade means the oil stands up to summer and winter temperatures
  • Viscosity is the consistency of the motor oil

All of these things play a role in determining the best motor oil for your vehicle.

Accurate Auto would be happy to answer any other questions you might have about motor oil. We are located in Beaverton, Lake Oswego and Hillsboro, OR, and you can reach us, respectively, at 503-773-5334, 503-506-6513, or 503-850-2878.

Image Credit: ronstik /