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Have you ever driven your car for too long without enough oil, or without the right kind of oil? It’s not a facet you can miss, and anyone who has had engine oil issues knows it’s not something you want to mess around with. What you might not know about motor oil is that it’s a seasonal aspect of your vehicle, one that can affect the performance of your engine and vehicle overall. When it comes to choosing the right winter engine motor oil, consult this handy article.
Something that many people may not know—the “W” listed in the motor oil grade actually stands for winter! We measure motor oil by its viscosity, meaning how thin or thick the pour of the oil is. When the viscosity is high, it flows slower throughout your engine, distributing at a more languid pace. 5W30, for example, is a “winter” oil rated by the oil’s vehicle performance in cold weather. 5W is almost always recommended for cold weather use, though new synthetic oils have been modified to flow even when facing winter weather. Synthetic oils are able to pass tests formulated by the “W” rating.
Synthetic or Conventional?
Another fact you might not know: the motor oil that is made today is formulated as an 80% oil base with 20% of additional synthetic additives. The base 80% can be conventional, synthetic, or even an oil blend and the additives included are dispersants, detergents, and viscosity index improvers meant to benefit the health of your engine.
Conventional: Standard motor oil that is affordable and meets the base requirements of vehicle manufacturers. This is the motor oil that most of us are used to and the one you will see most commonly.
High Mileage: Standard motor oil enhanced with special additives that will help prevent leaks and reduce overall oil consumption in older vehicle engines. This is the type of motor oil you will want to use in any vehicle that has ~75,000 miles of use.
Synthetic Blend: Motor oil enhanced by a dose of synthetic oils mixed with mineral oils—this grade of motor oil is used by drivers that want enhanced overall performance but at a cost lower than full synthetic. This is a commonly recommended oil.
Full Synthetic: Motor oil that contains as few impurities as possible, which means it’s the ideal oil for higher performance engines and modern vehicles. It works better at both lower and higher temperatures and offers increased protections and stability that enhance the life of the engine. Full synthetic will prolong the life of your vehicle and enhance its life overall.
What Are the Benefits?
- Easy Starting: Your average conventional oil will lose its viscosity in winter weather. When you start up your vehicle in cold weather snaps are harder on the engine overall, and when you have conventional motor oil in the engine during these times it can cause issues. Synthetic oils benefit you more in the winter because they are thinner, which allows the engine to crank faster.
- Consider the Cost: While conventional oil might seem the cheaper route, you won’t consider it cheap if your engine fails on you. You might have to change the oil more often than usual if you stick with conventional, as synthetic oils have a longer life between changes.
- Protect Your Engine: Low viscosity oil does a better job at protecting the life of your engine. When you start the ignition, oil immediately and smoothly flows to the critical components of your engine. Low viscosity protects and prevents direct contact between parts of your engine which enhances its life.
- Better Mileage: Even if you don’t know exactly how fuel combustion works, the combustion in your engine is much faster when you use low viscosity oils. This boosts overall performance which gives you more miles per gallon, which is very effective and needed during the cold winter months. This will keep you from stopping at the gas station so much during the holidays.
So What Do I Need?
Typically, making sure you are selecting the right oil for your engine won’t impact you personally if you are maintaining regular oil changes at the discretion of your manufacturer. Regular, routine oil changes keep your engine clean and free of impurities, preventing things that could wear out the engine or inflict damage on your vehicle. If you are a person who changes their vehicle oil themselves, you should consult the list above as to what you need that will best serve your vehicle, remembering to follow the “W” in winter when choosing the correct motor oil.
Multi-viscosity 5W30 motor oil flows better in the winter weather, but it is also recommended for annual protection—synthetic 5W30 multi-viscosity will provide the best protection in extreme temperatures, so plan accordingly by where you live or where you are planning to travel. What is most important is paying attention to your owner’s manual, as this will specify exactly what viscosity grade and motor change interval you should be following. PartsAvatar has the oil you need, regardless of the season.
The Winter Bottom Line
Winter can be a harsh time, and vehicle maintenance can come down to more than one thing. Thinking about motor oil during the winter months is truly just “one more thing,” especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Whether you’re changing your oil yourself or taking your vehicle in for regular maintenance, this article should keep you informed about choosing the right winter engine oil for your vehicle. For the best motor oil reviews and advice make sure you keep up to date with My Engine Needs.
About the Author:
Kathryn Fowler is the Marketing Manager at PartsAvatar. She’s been passionate about cars since childhood. She loves examining different components of cars to understand their operation. Kathryn started writing blogs on automobile parts to share her love for cars and educate automobile enthusiasts worldwide.