Choosing The Right Engine Oil 101

 In Car Care, Maintenance

Choosing the right oil for your car can be tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before. A lack of sufficient oil is the number one killer in most engine problems. People seem to forget that their vehicles require other liquids to function properly. It’s not just petrol or diesel, but oil and water too. Both are more important than fuel. If you forget to put fuel in your car, the worst that can happen is you run out of it. Forget to add oil however, and your engine will start steaming from the lack of lubrication and metal on metal rubbing and before you know it, boom. Your engine just broke a connecting rod and punctured a hole in the block. Likewise, ignore water, and it’ll start steaming too, only this time because it’s not cooling.

When choosing the right oil, there are a few things you want to check. We’ll cover them in this article but please note that there is variation from model to model, only use this article as a guide as to what you should be looking for and not what you need exactly. Without further to do, let’s get started.

Oil Numbers

You may have noticed that all oils feature a certain number associated with them, say 10W-40. This is because engine oils are Multigrades, which is a fancy term to say that they fall into two groups. See, the W in the first part isn’t Watt or anything like that, it simply stands for winter. The number preceding it indicates it’s viscosity in cold weather. The lower the number, the thinner the oil, or in other words, the lower the value, the better it performs. The right part indicates the viscosity in summer (not just summer, but hotter weather in general). Obviously, it doesn’t state S for summer, but you get the idea. Again, the lower the number, the thinner the oil gets.

Generally, you’re most likely either using a 10W-40 oil or a 5W-40 if it’s colder where you live, but it does vary vehicle to vehicle like we said. It’s best to resort to the manual before buying the oil, let alone pouring it in. If you’re unsure what oil your car uses and the manual doesn’t help, turn to the internet or take it to your mobile mechanic and maybe get a service done while you’re at it.


A lot of small shops sell cheaper oil, but don’t get fooled by the price. It’s probably cheap because it isn’t good for your car. Engine oils have to pass certain tests, such as API. In short: never buy oils which don’t have the proper API labels on them.


A lot of manufacturers promote a single oil company for their engines, and while it’s true that it’s for your own good, it’s not necessarily a must. It is true that certain oil manufacturers work with the car manufacturer to combine the best oil for their particular engines, like Renault-Elf and so on, but a lot of the oils are compatible with one another. Now, it’s best not to mix and match, but if you can’t find the oil you require and you absolutely have to drive your car, it’s better to put different oil in rather than drive it with no oil at all. Remember that!


Lastly, do not forget that you should ONLY fill the oil to the indicated top level on the dipstick. Yes, it will take more oil in, but you may cause harm rather than good as it will have to come out from somewhere, and that will either result in oil leaks or something blown.

If you need any advice on engine oil or if you run in to engine problems, get in touch with your local Geek Mechanic.


Recommended Posts
pingbacks / trackbacks

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text.