Some Engine Oils currently on the market can potentially harm your engine, learning how to read and understand the labels is the key to avoiding serious consequences.
You can find on the label key information that will help determine if an oil is appropriate for use in your vehicle.
Here is what you need to know
The Viscosity Grade
The viscosity grade measures the oil’s thickness and ability to flow at certain temperatures.
Vehicle requirements may vary.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines a numerical system for grading motor oils according to viscosity.
Nowadays, multi-grade oils are the most used for their practicality, they include two viscosity grades.
The most common grade is 5W-30, the first number “5W” is the equivalent grade of the single grade oil that has the oil's viscosity at cold temperature and the second number is the grade of the equivalent single-grade oil that describes its viscosity at 100 °C (212 °F).
Always look to your owner's manual. It specifies the viscosity grade required for your car's engine.
Several organizations offer systems to classify the different passenger car and commercial automotive motor oils.
You will be able to read them from the standards in the forms "ACEA B3 / B4", "API SN / CF", or "ILSAC GF-6A".
These letters and numbers are used to determine whether an oil is made for a gasoline or diesel engine, to assess its level of performance and, to meet or not certain specific recommendations, in short, these are international specifications and manufacturer approvals.
For more detailed information about each specification, you can consult the below links:
API Categories: American Petroleum Institut
ACEA Categories: Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles
ILSAC Categories: International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee
Synthetic engine oil
These oils are obtained by chemical synthesis and specially developed for recent engines (gasoline or diesel). They cover the entire viscosity scale.
This type of oil is recommended if you put a lot of stress on your engine: a lot of stops and starts (in town in particular) or sporty driving.
These oils facilitate the cold starting of the engine and allow fuel economy. The major advantage is that the oil change intervals are extended: approximately every 20,000 to 25,000 kilometers.
Semi-synthetic engine oil
These oils offer a very good level of protection but require a standard oil change interval: approximately every 10,000 to 15,000 kilometers.
If your journeys are mixed (city and road) and you have a driving style that normally demands the engine, choose this oil for its unbeatable quality/price ratio.
A semi-synthetic oil also facilitates cold starting (depending on viscosity).
Mineral engine oil
These oils generally lack the oxidation resistance to be suitable for use in recent engines. These oils are therefore generally used for old vehicles (over 15 years old) of the gasoline or diesel type (without turbo).
Its viscosity allows it to compensate for any oil consumption.
The oil change intervals are short because this type of oil loses its lubricating properties more quickly. An oil change should be planned approximately every 7,000 to 10,000 kilometers with this type of oil.