As I talk with customers about their vehicles and the maintenance that has (or hasn’t) been done, sometimes I hear the strangest things about the misunderstandings people have about motor oil and the myths that they’ve been fed. For what appears to be such a simple subject, there’s a lot to that liquid gold that keeps your engine lubricated and clean. Here’s 7 of the most common myths and misconceptions that people have told me and the facts about each one.
- If You Switch To Full Synthetic, You Can’t Switch Back. While we believe in using full synthetic oil because of its superior cleansing properties and resistance to extreme temperatures and longer maintenance interval, 5000 compared to 3000 for conventional and blends, you can switch back and forth without doing any harm to your vehicle. The only real concern is making sure that the viscosity of the motor oil meets the requirements outlined in your owner’s manual.
- You Should Change Your Oil Right Before Going On A Road-trip. We hear tell of a driver witnessing a vehicle headed down a small 2 lane highway in the opposite direction with a stream of oil pouring from the engine. The trail was traced back to the lube shop he’d just left and they’d forgotten to make sure the drain plug was fully tightened. Living in Idaho means that an hour in any direction puts in out in the boonies and mostly no where you’d want to be when your vehicle breaks down. It’s best to do such maintenance about a week before, this gives you time to tool around town and see that all is still in good working order, and if not, you’re nearby your favorite repair shop to have us remedy any issues that might arise.
- It Helps My Engine To Add Additives To The Oil. Reputable oil manufacturers already formulate each oil with specific additives to ensure performance in your engine and by adding “stuff” to it, you upset the chemical balance intended by its maker and possibly even dilute the oil which can lead to damage. If you still feel you really need to, check your owners manual first to see what the manufacturer says about it.
- The W Stands For Weight. The numbers in a multi-grade rating represent the oil’s viscosity, or thickness. The higher the number, the thicker the oil. The best oils are in the “Goldilocks” zone, not too thick but not too thin either, just right. The viscosity of your oil will change depending on the temperatures it’s exposed to, the multi-grade rating gives you both the hot and cold viscosities. 5W represents the oil’s viscosity rating for winter use, according to a rating system developed by the Society of Auto Engineers. And that’s why the “W” in 5W-20 stands for “winter.”
- Synthetic Oils Are Meant For Newer Or High Performance Vehicles, Not My Older Vehicle. Newer cars do use either a synthetic blend or a full synthetic instead of conventional oil because of the cleansing and protective qualities but there’s no reason you can’t use it in you older vehicle for the same reason. I have a 97 Pontiac Grand Prix that I put full synthetic in, mainly because it means I don’t have to change my oil nearly as often. Full synthetic motor oils, which deliver increased lubricity and reduce the running temperature of your vehicles engine, are ideal for your brand-new BMW AND your 20-year-old work truck.
- Synthetic Oil Will Eat Seals And Make My Engine Leak And Consume More Oil! Often times when a vehicle, particularly an older vehicle, has developed “New” leaks they are most commonly a sign of seals and gaskets that were already in poor condition and now that you’ve added a superior oil with upgraded detergents, the deposits that formerly kept the oil from leaking out have been cleaned out. In such a case, even if an oil spot was never seen on the ground, dirty oil residue will be observed on the exterior of the engine, indicating a pre-existing leak. The two most common root causes of a perceived increase in oil consumption are: 1. oil consumption that has always been there, but that is now apparent because of the longer oil drain interval (not indicative of a problem); and 2. The removal of piston ring deposits that cause and actual, but temporary, increase in combustion blow-by and oil consumption.
- When Your Oil Turns Black, It’s Time To Change It. What makes the oil to appear so dark and dirty is actually tiny particles that are a combination of dirt, soot, partially burned fuel, oxidized motor oil, leaked coolant and condensed water vapor produced during combustion. When you see your oil turned from that amber, honey clear color to the dark, almost black look, it’s an indication that the oil is actually doing it’s jog. What you’re seeing is those particles suspended in the oil and when the oil is changed, they’ll leave your engine with the old oil instead of being deposited throughout. The straight scoop is that if your oil is looking dark and dirty, it’s actually doing exactly what it was meant to. Don’t forget to check out our website www.all-autorepair.com