Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What Do Oil Grades Mean?

Have you taken a peak at your oil change sticker or owner’s manual to see what kind of oil you’re running in your car? No, not standard or synthetic, but the grade of oil? It usually reads like 5W30 or 0W20. Sure, you’ve probably seen that combo of letters and numbers before, but what does it mean? Today, we’re going to talk about just that and why using the right kind is important.

Today’s oil grading system was created by a group called the Society of Auto Engeneers (SAE). The need for a new grading system came to be when “year round” oil was invented around about half a century ago. Previously, Cars needed thinner oil in the winter, and thicker oil in the summer. Oil thins at higher temperatures and thickens at lower ones, and the numbers (0, 5, 10, 20 etc.) measure just how the oil reacts to different temperatures. Thanks to additives, modern oil can be used in both hot and cold seasons. For example, a 5W20 oil acts like an SAE 5 oil at 0°F and an SAE 20 oil at 212°F – in other words, you don’t have to switch to “winter” or “summer” oils to properly lubricate parts – one kind of oil can do both.

So why is it important to use the factory reccomended kind of oil?

The short answer is that your engine is engeneered for it. While it is true that modern oils can lubricate in both hot and cold seasons, everything in your engine that touches oil wasn’t just designed to be lubricated – It was designed to be lubricated certain ways in certain temperatures – and the oil your manual calls for is the best way to do that. If your car calls for 5W30 and you use 5W20, for example, the oil’s viscosity may not be adequite for how your engine was designed, so if your owner’s manual calls for 5W30, you should stick to that. Don’t substitiute because a different grade oil is on sale one week – while you may not see or feel any changes immediatley it could be detremental to your engine in the long run.

 

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoAndTireofMintHill

 

Ken Manchester