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Does Your Car Need Different Oil For Winter? Here’s The Short Answer

does your car need different oil for winter

If you're wondering, “does your car need different oil for winter?” The short answer is probably yes to eliminate all winter headaches that might impact your vehicle's engine. Typically, experts recommend using the 5W motor oil for winter.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Winter impacts our vehicles in many ways. For example, as you're driving on the highway or city roads, you might see a lot of vehicles pulled over waiting for roadside assistance. Most of these vehicles typically have problems with known mechanical issues related to either the battery or probably the engine.

Your vehicle’s motor oil behave differently during the winter season, which means that you need to research what type of motor oil you need to use during the winter. This article provides you with all you need to know about whether you need to switch your vehicle's oil during winter or not and, if yes, what type of motor oil to consider.

How does cold weather impact your vehicle's oil?

When we hear about the winter season, the first thing that comes to mind is the vehicle's battery and issues with difficulty starting. However, another important element to keep in mind when dealing with the winter season is your vehicle's engine oil.

As the temperature drops, the engine oil becomes slower as it gets thicker. When the engine's oil is slower, it might not reach all inaccessible components within your vehicle's moving parts. As a result, these components might experience friction which could increase the engine temperature and result in engine seizing includes overheating.

What are the different types of motor oil?

Before we dive into the details about “does your car need different oil for winter?” Let's take a closer look at the different types of motor oil that you might encounter in the market:

  1. Conventional oil

Conventional oil is the typical common type of standard engine oil that provides your engine with the basic characteristics to keep it going. This oil is the most affordable, but it requires more frequent changes because it breaks down faster than the other oils mentioned in this list.

  1. Synthetic oil

Synthetic oil is the highest-end type of motor oil that provides you with the best characteristics you could ever find. It prevents engine overheating and usually has some negatives to help enhance your vehicle's performance and extend its lifetime. In addition, with synthetic oil, you don't have to worry about oil change intervals because you can lead up to 15,000 miles without needing an oil change, depending on the type of oil and your vehicle's engine.

Unfortunately, despite the great teachers with synthetic oil, this type of oil is the most expensive and is not considered affordable, which means that not everybody can purchase it.

  1. Synthetic blend oil

Considering the high costs for synthetic oils, automotive experts and manufacturers came up with a specific synthetic and conventional oil combination to provide good characteristics at a low price. As a result, your vehicle can achieve good oil characteristics close enough to synthetic oil at an affordable price by choosing synthetic blend oil.

  1. High mileage oil

Finally, since older cars behave differently and are expected to have major breakdowns more than newer vehicles, automotive experts designed the high mileage engine oil. This oil doesn't have to do anything with change frequency, but it targets the engine's condition. In other words, by switching to high mileage oil, you achieve characteristics like sealing the minor internal cracks and enhancing the engine performance, but this oil does not mean that you can wait for a year without needing an oil change.

As you might notice, every type of engine oil has its characteristics, targeting specific types of vehicles. However, this does not necessarily mean that you need to go to with the most expensive one that has the best characteristics because of the following:

  • The best synthetic oil might not be compatible with your vehicle, especially if you're driving an older car
  • If you maintain the right oil change intervals, you should be OK, and you don't have to worry about switching to a better synthetic oil.

Does your car need different oil for winter?

Since winter impacts your vehicle's viscosity and the way it flows, you must consider changing the engine's oil as the winter season approaches.

When choosing your winter oil, you must focus on what's known as the rating grade. The rating grade is a specific code generated by the society for automotive engineers, and this court has a meaning. For example, you might come across an oil with code number 5W30. The letter “W” in this code refers to the winter season, which means that this oil is perfect for Lower temperatures.

It is extremely important to note the number before the letter W because it depends on how good this oil is when the temperature drops. In general, you should go with the lowest W number to get the best oil characteristics during the winter season.

According to experts, the 5W oil type is the best choice for the winter season. However, you must compare the five W characteristics and the different additives to the synthetic oil because synthetic oil might perform better in some scenarios.

What benefits do I get when switching to winter oil?

While it's obvious that when you switch to a winter oil, you don't have to deal with engine overheating issues, there are many other benefits that you might want to learn about to encourage yourself to switch your oil today:

  1. Better engine starting

As we indicated earlier, with colder temperatures, the regular conventional oil loses many of its characteristics. Therefore, it does not flow properly and does not reach deep locations in the engine. Therefore, it's very likely that conventional oils might not cool down the engine properly because they could not eliminate friction. By switching to a more winter oil, you achieve a better viscosity that allows the oil to flow faster without any cold temperatures.

  1. Fewer car repairs

Although conventional oil is much cheaper than winter oil, you must consider the entire costs and what you could pay when something goes wrong during the winter season. For example, conventional oil starting prices are not very expensive, but if the oil did not do its job and had to deal with engine overheating, repair costs can quickly pile up, requiring thousands of dollars.

  1. Protecting the engine

With a lower viscosity, the engine oil reaches all components along with the engine. Therefore, you don't have to worry about engine seizing, and another engine damage is due to improper lubrication.

  1. Better fuel economy

If the engine receives the right amount of lubrication, you don't have to worry about overstressing the engine, which is a common feature of most engines equipped with conventional oil. When the engine is not stressed, it can be more efficient and produce good energy without consuming too much fuel. Thus, one of the best benefits of switching to winter oil is improving the vehicle's fuel economy.

The 2021 best winter motor oils

If you search through the online market or visit an auto shop, you'll see a long list of oil brands that you can choose suitable for the winter season. Although it's great to find a long list of oil to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming, especially for inexperienced drivers.

Let's take a closer look at some of the top 2021 winter motor oils you can consider. You must go through the oil price, main pros, cons before you make your final decision to achieve your goals without breaking the budget.

  1. Mobil 1 120764-3PK 5W-30 Motor Oil
  2. Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil
  3. Royal Purple 51530 High-Performance Motor Oil 5W-30
  4. Castrol 1597B1 Edge Extended Performance 5W-30 Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil
  5. Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic 5W-30 Motor Oil
  6. Red Line 5W-30 Motor Oil

What are the common winter motor oil prices?

Price is one of the biggest components that go into whether to switch to winter oil or not. Typically, winter oil prices can be divided into three categories:

  1. Oils under $15

You can find many winter oils under $15, but those do not have the best and the most reliable viscosity. Also, under this category, most oils are not fully synthetic.

  1. Oils between $15 and $25

Under this category, you'll find most synthetic oils. As a result, you can achieve decent characteristics to protect your engine during the winter season without any worries.

  1. Oils higher than $25

Finally, the most expensive winter motor oils fall under this category. Typically, drivers looking for high mileage oils that help enhance the engine's performance should find their choice here. Synthetic oils for high mileage vehicles target cars with 7500 miles and more.

Other things to consider when shopping for a winter oil

There are a couple of other things that you need to consider when shopping for the next winter oil, including:

  1. Fuel efficiency

Overtime reviews, your vehicle's fuel efficiency drops due to sludge buildups and other debris or contaminants among the engine. That's why you'll need a decent type of engine oil, especially during the winter season. Therefore, if you were not thinking of our winter seasoned oil, it might be the right time now to consider it, especially if your vehicle is getting older.

  1. Your engine compatibility

It is important to note that not every engine is compatible with synthetic oil or probably winter oil. Therefore, you must go through your vehicle's owner’s manual and confirm whether you can use it or not. You can also consult with your mechanic to get his input about whether you should choose a different oil or not.

  1. Your vehicle's age

Finally, older cars have different engine designs, requiring a specific type of engine oil. Therefore, switching to a winter oil might require some research because the newer oils might have certain chemicals that could damage your vehicle's weak seals. Therefore, it is also important that you consult with the mechanic and understand whether you should switch to this type of oil or not.


Your vehicle's engine oil is one of the many components that prevent engine overheating. While we might think of engine oil as extremely critical during the summer season, it is even more critical during the winter season.

When it gets cold outside, oil gets thicker, and it becomes much harder to flow around the engine component; and therefore, chances of dealing with engine overheating are higher. That's why automotive experts recommend inspecting your engine oil and probably switching to something better during the winter season.

Typically, you will want to look for engine oil that contains a lower W rating. In general, most drivers found it suitable enough to have a 5W motor oil for the winter season.

It is important to note that switching the oil type might not be extremely helpful if your vehicle has a measured engine problem. That's why you must have all mechanical problems result first before thinking about the engine oil. Obviously, if the mechanical problems require very high repair costs, then it's not worth the investment, and you probably want to evaluate selling your vehicle and using its value towards our car.

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