Choosing the right engine oil for a vehicle can deliver significant improvements in performance, and greater efficiency that can result in cost savings. But whether you are looking for better performance, or you simply need to top-up your oil with a suitable alternative, there are lots of products on the market to consider and it is not always easy to choose the right one.
There are a number of basic differences between engine oil products, including the base oil (whether mineral, synthetic or semi-synthetic), the viscosity (how the oil flows through the engine when operating at hot or cold temperatures) and the additives the product contains. All of these will affect whether or not a particular brand or type of oil is right for your vehicle’s needs.
Here, the experts at Broughton Lubricants will explain how to identify the type of oil you need, the steps you should take when changing to a new engine lubricant, and the advantages you can gain by choosing the optimum product for your vehicle or fleet.
How to find the most suitable engine oil for a vehicle
Often, the best way to determine the right type of engine oil for your vehicle is to check the relevant Haynes manual or vehicle owner’s handbook for the manufacturer’s recommendation. In this way, you can be sure that the oil you purchase will be suitable – although it may not deliver the optimum performance you would expect from a higher-quality lubricant product.
However, if you drive or manage older vehicles, this may not be such a simple process. Engine oils are regularly discontinued as they are upgraded and replaced by new products, and while in some cases it is simple enough to find a direct replacement for the recommended product, in others it may not exist. In these cases, it is best to seek expert advice – explain the requirements of your application or identify the recommended product you have been told to use, and an experienced technical expert will be able to identify the most appropriate product to meet your needs.
This advice applies equally to a private car as to a fleet of commercial vehicles – but it is important to bear in mind that if your fleet comprises a number of different vehicle makes or models, you may need a different product for each one. This may seem cost-prohibitive, as it can be very expensive up-front. However, the savings you can make thanks to greater efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements can actually make this approach much more cost-effective in the long run.
To ensure you choose the best product, consider the additives that might offer specific benefits according to your application. You should not need significant technical expertise to identify a product that will provide improvements over the product you currently use, but expert advice can help to guide your decision-making.
How to replace the oil in your engine
It is important to check your oil regularly, as running out can result in damage to your engine or other serious problems. A dashboard light will let you know if your oil is running too low, but you need to top it up urgently when you reach this stage, and if you do not have a suitable product to hand you may find yourself unable to finish your journey. If your engine oil is running out and needs replacing, it may be time to consider replacing it with a new and upgraded product.
If you want to switch to a higher-performance lubricant, you should not simply top up your oil with the new product you want to use. In fact, you should never mix oils with different specifications, as they may be incompatible. In some cases, this will result in products separating in the oil reservoir, while in more serious cases the additives in each lubricant may counteract each other. If this happens, the oil can become extremely inefficient or cease to function correctly, with serious consequences for your vehicle. If you are topping up your oil, use the same product each time.
If you want to switch to a new product, you should ask your garage or mechanic to perform an oil change instead. An oil change can deliver its own advantages, even if you are not upgrading the oil you use to achieve higher performance. It can make sure that your oil is operating as efficiently as possible, improving engine lubrication and removing dirt, debris, and other elements that can affect performance from the oil.
By following these steps, you will be able to choose the best engine oil for your vehicle or fleet, gain the maximum benefits from using it, and enjoy a higher performance from your engine than ever before.
By Danny Harwood, Technical Application Specialist, Automotive and Energy, Certas Energy