Ever stood in an auto shop for what seems to be an eternity, trying to decipher those numbers around the engine oil? Do you stand there pondering questions including ‘Which one is right for my car? ’ or ‘How often should i top-up the oil? ’? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Most people typically do not take note of engine oil until it’s too late, once the oil light suddenly actually starts to flicker on and off. Oil is definitely the lifeblood of your respective car, and yes it pays to learn a little bit concerning the fluid that keeps your engine running. We explain the essentials of DIY oil replacing and checking.
Precisely what does oil do?
Engine oil lubricates your engine’s components. It prevents the metal surfaces from grinding together and wearing out from friction, and helps regulate engine temperature by transferring heat out of the moving parts. In short, a well-oiled car can increase your vehicle’s efficiency and longevity by minimising damage in the engine, and will prevent your car from overheating.
Regularly checking and topping up your engine oil can also help spend less on fuel costs, as a car with low oil should work harder to cool the engine as well as keep the components turning, which requires more petrol.
Oil numbers explained
The majority of engine oils suitable for cars sold in Australia are covered by an oil classification system developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). There are also other systems utilized as well, like the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Association des Constructeurs Europeens dAutomobiles (ACEA).
You should check your owner’s manual to see which system and ratings the manufacturer has specified before making your oil purchase. Car manufacturers spend a great deal of time testing and developing components to operate to various tolerances with a certain amount of lubrication. Your car or truck may not use SAE ratings, so it is essential to first note which system your manufacturer has specified.
SAE ratings designate the oil’s viscosity. Viscosity determines how thick (or thin) the oil is at a set temperature. For example, an SAE rating of 30 means the oil is thinner compared to a rating of 40 on the same temperature.
Most cars use multi grade oil ratings, as engine oil thickens or thins dependant upon the external temperature. The majority of single grade oils get too thin on the hot day, so multi grade ratings prevent thinning when the engine warms up. And the number after the ‘W’ may be the hot viscosity rating, take for example the multi grade rating of 5W40 – the quantity before the ‘W’ is the cold viscosity rating. In this example, the oil acts such as a 5-rate single grade oil when cold and acts like a 40-rated single grade oil when hot.
You can find no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ engine oil numbers, because it depends on the particular car you drive, however, it is so critical that you stay with the oil system and rating how the manufacturer has specified for your car.
How do you check the oil?
With virtually all cars, the engine must be cold. This really is so you can have all the oil in the oil pan in order to get an accurate measurement. Before checking the oil; look at your owner’s manual to see if this applies to you, some manufacturers recommend that the engine be warmed up.
Together with the engine switched off, pull the dipstick out for the engine. Using a spare cloth or rag, wipe any oil off from the end and set the dipstick all the way way back in. Pulling it straight back out, check both sides in the dipstick to discover where the oil is about the end. Every dipstick should have markings to indicate the minimum and maximum oil level – usually these are the words MAX and MIN or the letters H and L (high and low). Your owner’s manual should tell you what markings they have used, and what they stand for.
If you find an oil ‘streak’ between two marks, the level needs to be fine. This means you should add oil if the oil is beneath the minimum indicator.
If there are any abnormalities, It’s also a good idea to examine the colour of your respective oil concurrently, to check. If it has a light, milky appearance, there may be coolant leaking into the engine, although black or brown oil is okay. Check to see if there are any metal particles as well – this may mean there is engine damage. It is important to go to a mechanic at the earliest opportunity for further investigation if you see any of these.
Simply insert the dipstick back into its tube, put the cap back on and close your bonnet, if the level is fine and also you haven’t noticed anything strange.
What does oil actually do?
Engine oil lubricates your engine’s components. It prevents the metal surfaces from grinding together and wearing out from friction, helping regulate engine temperature by transferring heat away from the moving parts. In a nutshell, a well-oiled car can boost your vehicle’s efficiency and longevity by minimising tear and wear on the engine, and can prevent your car from overheating.
Regularly checking and topping up your engine oil will also help save on fuel costs, as a car with low oil needs to continue to work harder to cool the engine and to maintain the components turning, which requires more petrol.
How much oil do I need?
Overfilling your engine with oil is bad for the auto, so only add a little oil at any given time and check the level as you go. You can use a funnel to help make the process easier and to avoid any spills. Start with about 50 % a litre and then check the dipstick again to check if adequate if your dipstick has indicated your oil is below or nearby the minimum mark. If your dipstick is indicating you need more, slowly add the second half litre. Keep checking the dipstick as you go. After you approach the maximum line, it’s fine to prevent.
How often do I need to check the oil?
Your oil usage depends on what type of car you drive. Most new cars rarely need a top up of oil between services. If you’re driving a vehicle that’s over 10 years old or has done a lot of kilometres, the oil needs checking regularly. Whether your vehicle is old or new, it’s always important to check the oil (and other fluids) whenever you’re setting off on a long drive or have not driven in a while, to avoid any emergencies on the highway.
The Final Word
In addition to checking your oil, it is recommended to book your car in for regular services. DIY expert and maintenance repairs can go a long way to guarantee the longevity of your own vehicle.
While maintenance will help you keep your car in great condition, comprehensive car insurance can protect it in any unforeseen circumstances. Compare providers today for reassurance on the road.