Are You Using the Right Engine Oil?
October 20, 2020
Written By Don North
Have you ever walked into an auto parts store and felt overwhelmed by the incredible number of engine oil product choices? There are more than 50 different brands of engine oil and they can come in a variety of colored bottles. Each brand has its own claims as to why you should choose it and how it will do something special for your engine. On top of that, your equipment or automotive dealer may be telling you to choose their company’s oil. With so many competing claims and products, how do you know if you are choosing the right engine oil?
Always check your owner’s manual to see which standard of certification is required for your engine.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) specify the product certifications needed to maintain the warranty for their respective engines. The most well-known certification is the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) ratings. The most current you will see in the “starburst” is GF-6 and SP in the “donut” for gasoline engines. For heavy duty engines (like diesel engines), it is API CK-4. Some OEMs will have their own certifications, like GM suggesting Dexos. The OEM certifications on the engine oil also indicate that oil has the right additives for the application. No other additional additives are needed.
Make sure you are using the OEM’s recommend viscosity for your engine.
Oil that is too thick or too thin won’t provide the necessary protection for your engine and can lead to costly damage. Most OEMs currently specify a light oil, such as 5W-20, because many modern engines are built with incredibly tight clearances between parts. The lower an oil’s viscosity, the more readily it will flow in cold engines and the better the fuel economy will be.
Conventional Vs. Synthetic Oils
You may also be wondering about the differences between conventional and synthetic engine oils. Fully synthetic oils can provide better wear protection than conventional oil and can extend oil-drain intervals. However, unless you subject your vehicle to extreme conditions, a synthetic oil may not be worth the extra cost. That’s why synthetic blends – a combination of mineral oil and synthetic base oil – have become a popular option. These blends provide better wear protection and fuel efficiency than conventional oils without requiring you to pay as much as you would for a full synthetic oil. No matter what type of oil you choose, never exceed your OEMs recommended oil drain interval without conducting an oil analysis program.
What about the Warranty?
OEMs develop engine oil certifications to meet their warranty requirements and to get maximum engine life. The U.S. government passed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in 1975 to ensure consumers were protected from unfair or misleading warranty programs. The law dictates that so long as you use an engine oil that meets the OEM’s certification requirements, the OEM cannot deny a warranty claim.
Selecting More than Just the Oil in the Bottle
Another thing to consider when buying your engine oil is the level of support you are likely to receive from the vendor and manufacturer. If you buy a brand name oil from a parts store or big box store, it may not exactly match your OEM specifications and it’s unlikely for such a store to have the contacts or staff available to assist you with a potential warranty claim.
At MFA Oil, we can help you match the right oil for your engine and much more. Our highly trained laboratory staff are available to analyze your oil samples to help you minimize costly downtime and repairs, and we have the resources and contacts to help you navigate the complexity of warranty claims. Plus, because we proudly stand behind the quality of all of products, you can have peace of mind that you are choosing the right engine oil that’s been specially formulated with the latest technology to meet and exceed the performance requirement of your OEM.