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Is All Motor Oil The Same?

If you want a motor to last as long as possible, there’s nothing more important than keeping motor oil in it. If you fail to do so, you could destroy your motor and find yourself on the receiving end of a costly repair bill.

Depending on the motor, it could result in you receiving a repair bill to the tune of thousands of dollars. However, knowing which oil to choose can be a bit overwhelming if you know nothing about motor oil. So is all motor oil the same? Let’s see!

What Is Motor Oil?

Internal combustion engines require lubrication for them to work efficiently. It’s the job of motor oil to keep a motor well-lubricated. Without lubrication, the many parts inside of an engine will experience friction.

The more friction between these components, the more wear and tear there will be. Increased wear and tear on a motor result in substantial maintenance costs over the life of the motor. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a car, lawn mower, or generator. You want to make sure your motor or engine has plenty of oil.

Is All Motor Oil the Same?

While all motor oils tend to do the same job, they’re not all the same. This is why you must make sure to use the proper motor oil. The three primary types of oil are mineral, semi-synthetic and synthetic oils. 

In addition, oils receive a grade – an alpha-numeric code. The oil’s grade is because of its viscosity, which is the oil’s ability to react to internal friction. Some examples of engine grades are 5W-30 and 10W-40. 

Pro Tip: Before you dump your motor oil down the drain, find out Can You Dispose of Used Motor Oil at Walmart?

Mechanic pouring motor oil into car engine
Your vehicle will require a specific type of motor oil to run effectively.

Can You Use Any Motor Oil in Any Car?

Unfortunately, you can’t just add any motor oil to a car’s engine. Check your owner’s manual if you’re unsure which type of oil you should use. The manufacturer will likely include this important information in the documentation that came with your vehicle. If you no longer have the owner’s manual, there’s a good chance you can find just about any owner’s manual for any vehicle with a simple Google search. 

Is Thicker Oil Better for Older Engines?

If you have an older engine you want to keep running, using thicker oil can be an effective way to do so. Thicker oil can help improve the oil pressure and protect worn engine bearings. However, if you begin to hear knocking or any noises coming from your engine after switching to thicker oil, you should immediately switch back to thinner oil.

Using thicker oil in an older engine can help extend the life of your engine and help you avoid increased wear and tear on the various components. Some drivers turn to 15W-40 and 20W-50 oils in their high-mileage engines. However, you’ll want to confirm that there are no issues with using thicker lubricant for your specific vehicle.

How Long Does Synthetic Oil Last?

Modern synthetic oils can last anywhere from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles. However, fully-synthetic motor oil can last as long as 15,000 miles. This is a drastic change for many drivers accustomed to changing their oil every 3,000 miles.

You’ll want to ensure you know what type of oil you’re putting in your vehicle and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. You could seriously damage the engine if you wait 15,000 miles to change your oil and don’t have fully-synthetic oil.

Pro Tip: Depending on your vehicle, you may or may not want to use synthetic oil. Find out Is Synthetic Oil Better for Your Vehicle?

Close up of motor oil being poured into vehicle
Change the motor oil in your car every 3,000 to 7,500 miles.

When Should You Not Use Synthetic Oil?

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using synthetic oil, it’s not recommended on higher mileage vehicles. Vehicles over 75,000 miles often get that label and are more susceptible to wearing and tearing on critical parts.

Like many of us, the older an engine gets, the more likely its parts will start wearing out. Increasing the frequency of oil changes the older your vehicle gets can help you spot any potential issues. Convention oil tends to flow slower, which helps to optimize the lubrication of an engine and its critical components.

How Often Should I Change My Oil?

We can’t mention enough that you should always follow your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. The manufacturer will likely suggest changing your oil at certain intervals to help keep your vehicle running efficiently.

However, depending on the vehicle, these intervals are typically every 3,000 miles to 7,500 miles. You don’t want to skip an oil change, and you should immediately get your vehicle to a trusted mechanic if you experience any dashboard maintenance notifications you can’t explain. 

Does Engine Oil Brand Really Matter? 

It can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve ever walked down the motor oil aisle at a retailer. Not only is there no shortage of types of oil, but there’s no shortage of brands, either. You can have two seemingly identical engine oil jugs from two totally different brands.

It should come as no surprise that brand-name oils are purer and use higher-quality ingredients. However, as long as their viscosity rating and the API (American Petroleum Institute) rating match, you don’t necessarily need to spend the extra money on the brand name. 

So while the brand may not matter all that much, you must ensure it’s compatible with your vehicle. Putting the wrong oil in your motor could be a costly mistake.

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