Myths and facts about car oil

These days, the only time we pay attention to information about engine oil is when the line item price is mentioned. Thanks to warranties and maintenance plans most of this information is not common barbeque talk anymore.

However, it does help to be armed with information when dealing with your local service centre. Here are five common myths about oil, dispelled!

The "W" in 10W-30 oil stands for "weight."

This has to be one of the earliest oil myths known to man. The “W” in your oil rating actually stands for its “Winter” rating, or cold rating. When oil is at cooler temperatures, it performs differently and tends to have a different viscosity, or thickness. Therefore, 10W-50 means that the Winter rating for this oil is rated at 10, and the operating temperature, or hot rating is at 50. You won’t have to worry about deciphering this much though. Most manufacturers recommend exactly which oil to use for your engine.

You don't need to change your oil filter every time you change your oil

The “No Filter” myth has been perpetuated by sneaky mechanics the world over. Not only does this mean that the filter won’t be able to sift the oil properly the second time round, but that certain particles might sneak through and into your engine.

Another risk is that the oil filter is now required to double its effective life time putting it under more stress and many more heat cycles. A cracked or damaged oil filter could mean the end of your entire engine. Oil filters are, thankfully not very expensive. So adding it to your shopping list doesn’t need to be a grudge purchase anymore.

Synthetic engine oils can wear down engine seals and cause leaks

Synthetic oils have much smaller molecules than regular mineral oil and because of this, synthetics have the ability to not only exploit tiny crevices and cracks and expose existing leaks. Thanks to the cleaning properties of synthetics they are also able to clear away sludge and dirt that might have collected and blocked tiny leaks. Giving synthetic oils a bad rep in certain instances.

When the first synthetic oils were introduced they did tend to shrink seals, but this has long since not been the case. It is advisable however to use high-mileage oils on older vehicles.

Can I use car oil in a motorcycle

Motorcycle and car oils serve mostly the same purpose in the engine, but on most motorbikes, the oils also lubricate the gearbox. Car oils work under much higher loads thanks to the increased weight of the vehicle that needs to be moved. Bike oils work at much higher revolutions as most motorbikes can rev well over 10 000 rpm.

The jury is slightly split on this as some car oils contain particles that might adversely affect the clutch of the motorbike. It is possible to use car oil in a bike if it is an emergency, and the rating is the same, but other than that it is not recommended.

If you use synthetic oil, you cannot switch back to regular oil.

Switching between these two oils won’t cause any damage to your engine. In fact, a synthetic blend is a mixture of regular and synthetic oils. One should always use the recommended grade of iol for the engine, but if you’re out in the karoo and you need to throw in a pint. It’s ok to mix things up.

Engine oil additives work

Technically, yes, they do work. However most oils contain engine additives that are tested in controlled environment with a specific oil for optimal performance and efficiency. Adding an additional additive could adversely affect the existing chemistry and likely not deliver any sort of performance advantage.

If your oil is black, you need an oil change

When you first pour your oil into your engine it has that beautiful amber hue. Just like in the commercial. Shortly after oil will start to turn black as they oil does it’s job by collecting particles and encapsulating them within. This is exactly what oil is supposed to do. As more and more particles collect the oil becomes darker and darker. Be sure to service your car at the recommended intervals prescribed by the manufacturer.

Keep these myths in mind when considering maintaining the best condition of your oil for your car. Because it’s such an important aspect to keeping your car in the best shape possible, good oil maintenance is.

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