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How To Choose The Right Oil For Your Car Or Truck?

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If you're looking for “how to choose the right oil for your car or truck?” You need to consider the following characteristics:  

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  • Oil viscosity
  • Oil type
  • Oil change frequencies

While most of us have heard that engines require specific motor oil, many of us never heard about the different characteristics we should search for when choosing the right motor oil.

Every oil will indeed provide your engine with a certain level of lubrication, but does it mean that you can go with any motor oil? If you drive in very cold environments or very hot areas, will you still use the same type of oil?

The short answer is no. There are many oil details that you need to learn about to help yourself choose the right oil for your car and achieve the best performance without any engine damages.

This article helps you answer the question, “how to choose the right oil for your car or truck?” It will also provide you with the general concepts behind the purpose of having motor oil in your vehicle. Finally, it will provide you with additional details to help you maintain your engine's oil and prevent negative consequences.

Why does your car need oil?

Before we dive into the details about “how to choose the right oil for your car or truck?” It is critical that you understand the main role of oil in your car. This way, you'll get an idea about how critical it is to choose the best oil that provides the main characteristics to help your car functioning properly.

In any combustion engine, many internal moving components grind against each other and cause friction. Too much friction results in engine overheating, which causes significant engine damages. To prevent friction, your vehicle relies on multiple oils to provide the specific amount of lubrication. It eliminates any potential for these moving components to interact with each other to generate heat.

Therefore, your engine needs a specific amount of motor oil. In addition, this motor oil must have certain characteristics to help lubricate the engine and reach the deep internal components fast enough before your engine heats up and gets damaged.

Keep in mind that motor oil breaks down over time, which means that you can't rely on having the right amount of engine oil. Only sure you will need to change the oil frequently depending on what type of motor oil you're using.

How to choose the right oil for your car or truck?

Choosing the right motor oil is one of the first and most important skill sets that you must learn as a driver. If you didn't get the right oil, you'd still deal with some engine issues that might lead to engine catastrophic outcomes.

There are certain characteristics that you need to learn about in any motor oil. Once you understand these characteristics, you can read on the motor oil bottle and understand whether it's suitable for your engine or not.

Let's look at what to consider when shopping for your next motor oil:

1-    Understand oil viscosity

Have you ever heard about the term viscosity? Well, this term is one of the main characteristics of any engine oil. It refers to how easily oil flows under different temperatures. This characteristic is extremely important, especially if you're looking for a good oil that suits certain weather conditions.

Oil viscosity refers to how resistant the fluid is to flow. You'll see oil viscosity in specific terminology and using specific codes that are typically in the following form: “XW-XX,” where X is replaced with certain numbers meaning certain things and capabilities.

While most people think that the letter W refers to the word “weight,” it's the first of the term “winter.” Therefore, the lower the number in front

For instance, if you see an oil with a viscosity number of “5W-30”, you will immediately understand that this oil doesn’t thicken as fast as another oil with several “10W-30”.

Now you have a good idea about the number in front of the letter “W,” which means the next step is to understand the second portion of the code, the two digits number at the end. This second number refers to how your oils. Viscosity changes at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, the second number refers to how well your oil behaves in very hot temperatures. Therefore, if you're dealing with oil with several 10-W-30, it should not thin as much as another oil with several 10W-40.

If you are searching for “how to choose the right oil for your car or truck?” You will need to consider viscosity. Your vehicle's owner’s manual should have detailed information about the range of viscosity your vehicle accepts, which means that you can't go beyond this range in both the high temperatures and the low temperatures.

2-    Decide on oil types

Did you know that not all engine oil is the same? Yes! They are five different types of motor oil that you might encounter in the automotive market:

Conventional oil

Conventional oil is the most common type of oil used by many dealerships and independent shops. This oil is the cheapest, and it is good enough to achieve the right lubrication for your engine.

On the other hand, conventional oil is not the best in terms of oil change frequencies. You'll change your motor oil more frequently than other people who rely on a higher quality oil. The other thing to consider is that conventional oil breaks down frequently and doesn't include the expected package events that could help extend the lifetime of your engine. However, experts indicated back don't necessarily must go with oil change frequencies

Premium conventional oil

Premium conventional oil is a higher quality motor oil similar to conventional oil but comes with a wider range of viscosities. Under this category, you might see the specific viscosities around 5W-20 or probably 5W-30.

The premium conventional oil is good enough for many light-duty vehicles, but it might not be the best for heavier-duty cars.

Full synthetic oil

Full synthetic oil is the highest quality motor oil that you might encounter in the automotive market. It provides it with the maximum level of characteristics that you could need from any engine oil.

It comes with extra additives to take care of any oxidation or carbon buildup inside your engine. Therefore, you mustn't worry about performing angels’ cleanups. Also, many customers reported that synthetic oil helped enhance the vehicle's fuel economy and prevented damages when using conventional oil.

Although full synthetic oil comes with unique characteristics, it is not surprising that it's much more expensive than regular conventional oil. However, if you think about it in the long term, since synthetic oil doesn't require frequent oil changes, you'll realize that it's not very expensive as compared to the frequent oil changes needed by conventional oil.

Note that synthetic oil is not compatible with every vehicle, and you must refer to the vehicle's owner’s manual before deciding to switch to this oil to prevent engine damages.

Synthetic blend oil

Experts realize that synthetic oil can be a bit unaffordable for many customers, and that's why they decided to generate new oil that mixes conventional and synthetic oil. This way, you achieve very good characteristics as close as possible to synthetic oil without paying as much money as this oil.

However, synthetic blend oil will still break down earlier than full synthetic oil, which means you'll need more frequent oil changes than when using synthetic oil.

High mileage oil

If you're driving a vehicle with a very high mileage close to 75,000 miles or more, you might want to consider the high mileage oil. This oil comes with certain additives that treat the older engines and help extend the lifetime of these engines.

The nice thing about the high mileage oil is that the additives seal any minor cracks and prevent major engine breakdowns prematurely. However, this oil is not the solution for major cracks in the engine, and if that's the case you're dealing with, you might need to install a new engine.

3-    Understand oil change frequencies

As we indicated earlier, oil breaks down over time of use. Therefore, you'll change it at the right time. Depending on what type of oil you're choosing, oil change frequencies differ significantly.

For example, many dark people change their oil once every 5000 miles if not 3000 miles when using conventional oil. However, other drivers rely on synthetic oil, which doesn't require change unless you hit the 15,000 miles in some instances.

Therefore, if you're not interested in changing your oil frequently and don't like to wait in line for oil changes, you can go with synthetic oil that doesn't require many frequencies of oil changes. However, it is critical to refer to your vehicle's owner’s manual to get an idea about whether your car is compatible with synthetic oil or not.

Synthetic oil has strong characteristics and additives that remove any carbon sludge buildup. Therefore, these additives might impact older engines and damage the weak seals around the engine components. Therefore, before deciding and switching to synthetic oil, you must confirm with your mechanic and with the vehicle's owner’s manual whether it's OK to switch to this type of oil or not.

The opposite also applies. In other words, if your car requires using synthetic oil, you cannot go with conventional oil to save on money. This is because your engine might deal with significant stress that leads to more damage than you expect.

Which oil is the best for heavy vehicles?

Suppose you’re shopping for motor oil for a heavier car. In that case, you will pay close attention to the different characteristics oil can provide you to ensure the best performance and highest fuel economy.

According to a recent review as of 2021-2022, consider the following motor oils or your heavy truck:

  • Mag 1 Full Synthetic 5W-30 Motor Oil
  • Mobil Super 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil
  • Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil
  • Castrol EDGE Extended Performance 5W-30
  • Valvoline synpower 5W-20 Full Synthetic Motor Oil


Not all motor oils are the same, and each oil type provides you with certain characteristics that enhance your vehicle's performance and prevent major damages. Understanding “how to choose the right oil for your car or truck?” helps you achieve the most out of your motor oil and prevent any unexpected breakdowns.

This article highlighted the main characteristics to consider when choosing your next motor oil. These characteristics include understanding the viscosity number, the oil change frequencies, and the type of motor oil you want to go with.

No matter how much effort you put towards choosing the right motor oil, choosing the best engine oil won't make a difference if your engine has major problems. In other words, if you're dealing with issues that require very high repair costs, it might be the right time now to sell your vehicle and use its money to buy a better car.

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  • Describe your car’s type and condition
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