Engine Oil 101: Which One Should I Use?
You might think that picking engine oils for your car is as easy as beefing up your child, just shove random stuff in and hope for the best. Unfortunately, you have to be really careful about which engine oil you’re using if you want your car to live a long and healthy life, and the most crucial step is right at the beginning.
4 Types of Engine Oils
When choosing the right engine oil for a car, you usually have 4 types to choose from:
1. Mineral Oil
Mineral oils are obtained and refined from nature. Simply put, it’s the same oil that you hear being dug up from the ground and processed at a refinery for it to be usable. It’s also the most common reason cited on the internet for spreading democracy.
2. Fully Synthetic Oil
This is where people get confused. Fully synthetic oils are not fake oils, as they have a mineral oil base. Fully synthetic oils are chemically engineered to be more stable at optimum temperatures and are able to gain higher mileage compared to mineral oils. Fully synthetic oils typically have additives that are designed to keep the oil cleaner for a longer period of time.
3. Semi-synthetic Oil
Much like the name suggests, semi-synthetic oils are a hybrid of mineral and fully synthetic oils. It’s at most, 30% fully synthetic oil added to mineral oil and was created to reap the many benefits that fully synthetic oils give without spending too much money, as fully synthetic oils can be quite expensive.
4. High Mileage Oil
Created to prolong the lifespan of older engines, high mileage oils include additives that are designed to rejuvenate old machines. Additives such as seal swelling, antioxidants, friction, and conditioners are usually included. As engine seals can dry out in the long run, high mileage oil revitalizes the engine seals to prevent oil leaks, while also providing better protection for older engines. Now that we know a bit more about engine oils, which should you use for your car?
Which Engine Oil Should I Use?
There isn’t a single type of engine oil that everyone can use and expect the best results. It would highly depend on the age and, more importantly, mileage of the car. For the sake of having a better explanation, let’s take it right from when you’ve received the keys to a new car. Let’s call this the ‘baby age’, as you need to take things a slowly with the car at first.
Your car is brand new and it’s in the baby age, where you’re required to drive around for 1000km or 3 months, whichever comes earlier. During this period, you’re not supposed to drive like you’re on Need for Speed. Instead, you’re supposed to drive without going way over 2500 RPM, as you need to give your car a bit of time to ‘break-in’. This is especially important in case your car has a defect that no one knows about, in which case, you might just be driving in a moving grenade.
Since the first few services come in short intervals, you can just use mineral oil at the beginning so you don’t have to fork out too much money. Once you’re done with the first service, try to push your car a little harder, without exceeding 3000 RPM, and see if the car works fine. Do take note of any noise, knocking, or acceleration issues that you may have and voice it out on your next service, even if you’re not sure whether it’s actually a problem or not.
If it all works great by the time the 2nd service interval comes, you can opt for synthetic or semi-synthetic oil depending on your budget, and do whatever you like with the car afterwards, as the car would’ve reached its proper break-in period, which I would call the ‘adult age’, by then. However, make sure to check if your car’s engine oil compatibility, whether it can accept only synthetic or semi-synthetic oil, as you wouldn’t want to break your car before you finally get to use it without worries.
Most modern cars today should have no problems changing from synthetic, to semi-synthetic, and to mineral oils back and forth, as all of them have a mineral-oil base, but better to be safe than sorry. If you have to choose between synthetic and semi-synthetic, it’s obvious that synthetic oil would be the better choice but if money is an issue to you, using semi-synthetic oils are fine. Most likely, you won’t even notice the difference.
Once your car managed to clock roughly 120,000km in mileage, your car has officially reached the ‘old age’. That’s when you should consider using High Mileage Oil, so you can keep the engine going for longer and minimize any potential engine problem that may arise in the ‘old man’.