Everything you need to know about engine oil

Everything you need to know about engine oil

Engine oil is one of the most important liquids in your car. It is vital for smooth, everyday operation and the longevity of your engine. Its basic function is to protect the metal components of your engine from the extreme friction and heat that is produced when the machine is in operation. 

It accomplishes this by lubricating the metal and ensuring these components never actually touch while the engine is running. This keeps the components from warping and becoming damaged by the heat-stress, allowing the engine to operate over long periods of time (as long as the oil is maintained properly).

How often does engine oil need to be changed?

Over time, oil can become polluted with the dirt and grime that may be present within your engine. These particles thicken the oil, reducing its effectiveness as a lubricant. This will also put more strain on your engine, making it more difficult to move heat away from vulnerable components.

With no extra dirt present, even the best engine oil will eventually deteriorate from the amount of heat it is exposed to. It will begin to break down on a chemical level, become less capable of transferring extra heat, and will make your car more susceptible to wear and tear.

The general rule is that you should change your oil roughly every 7,000–15,000kms, but this will vary depending on how modern your car is and what driving conditions you regularly subject it to. 

Your car will benefit most from you regularly checking your oil (about once a month), keeping track of how much your engine is consuming, and topping it up as required. 

To check your oil, make sure your car has been turned off for at least five minutes (allowing the oil to settle) then unscrew the oil cap and wipe the dipstick clean. Insert the dipstick back into the engine and remove it again to check where the oil levels are. Your dipstick will have an indicator mark on it, showing you how close to full the oil is.

Types of car engine oil

Depending on your car, you will require a specific oil that is designed to help your engine run smoothly. In general, there are three different types of engine oil that your vehicle might use. Consult your vehicle’s manual or speak with a professional mechanic if you aren’t sure which oil is right for your vehicle.

Mineral oil

Mineral oil is the oldest type of engine oil. Nowadays, it is most commonly only used for older or vintage cars. This oil is generally viewed as inferior to the more modern options, due to its lower heat resistance. This means the oil must be replaced more frequently, closer to every 5,000kms on average.

Synthetic oil

The most common type of engine oil, it is more than likely this is the oil that has been designed for your vehicle. It has been carefully engineered to be highly heat-resistant, resulting in the best possible performance for your car.

Semi-synthetic oil

Semi-synthetic oils are a mixture of synthetic and mineral oils, designed as a middle-ground between the two types. It provides better protection and performance for your engine than mineral oil alone, while being more affordable than a fully synthetic option.

Can you mix engine oils?

All engine oils are designed to be used by themselves, and will be far more efficient if used to the manufacturer’s specifications. That being said, if it is an emergency situation then mixing oils will be far less damaging to your vehicle’s engine than using too little oil, or no oil at all. 

Trust the oil experts

If you have any more questions about your car’s oil, or are curious about how to change engine oil for yourself, the expert mechanics at Highfields Mechanical are here to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our professional team on (07) 4646 1780, or fill out our online contact form.