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Types of Motor Oil: All You Need to Know

How to Prevent Common Oil Change Complications

The common types of motor oil are:

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  • Conventional motor oil
  • Full synthetic motor oil
  • Synthetic blend motor oil
  • High mileage motor oil

Motor oil is one of the very critical fluids in any vehicle. Without the right amount of oil, your vehicle might deal with significant overheating problems that could result in damaging the entire engine.

There are many different types of motor oil available in the market, and any driver needs to familiarize himself with these types to select what works for his vehicle. Some motor oils provide you with the basic characteristics, while others might provide you with additional benefits that could enhance the engine's performance and extend its lifetime.

This article provides you an overview of the different types of motor oil and highlights the main benefits you'll get from going with each one. It is important to note that some oils might not be compatible with your vehicle, which means that you don't necessarily need to go with the most expensive or the top motor oil if it's not indicated in your vehicle's owner’s manual.

What is the importance of motor oil?

Before we dive into the details about the different types of motor oil, it is important that we first understand the main benefits of having the right motor oil in your vehicle.

In any vehicle equipped with a combustion system, many internal components grinned against each other, causing some friction that could result in higher temperatures. When temperature increases in the engine and impacts its performance, your engine needs to perform within a specific range of temperature.

Furthermore, oil flows around the engine and collects all contaminants and debris. Engines are known to develop carbon and build up other deposits that could impact the engine's performance. You don't have to worry about these contaminants with oil flowing around the engine continuously because oil can take care of them.

By choosing the right type of engine oil, your vehicle receives a specific level of lubrication to prevent friction from building up and causing engine overheating. However, at some point, the oil loses the main characteristics to help cool the engine down, so you will need to replace it whenever needed.

An oil change is a critical maintenance that you need to perform at the right time—ignoring and skipping the oil change results in significant troubles that could cost you the entire engine. Therefore, no matter what's causing the delay, you should not skip an oil change if you don't want to pay thousands of dollars on repair costs.

What are the common types of motor oil?

The right type of motor oil your vehicle needs depends heavily on a lot of factors. For example, you might need to go with a specific type of motor oil that works for harsh cold weather environments if you are driving in one. Similarly, some factors have to do with your vehicle's type, which means that you only go with whatever your vehicle's owner’s manual recommends in terms of the best type of motor oil for your vehicle.

It is important to note that automotive experts do not recommend going with the most advanced or complicated motor oil if your vehicle doesn't need it. In other words, as long as you perform the required oil change whenever specified in your vehicle's owner’s manual, you should be good.

Let's take a closer look at the common types of motor oil that you might encounter:

1.    Conventional motor oil

Conventional motor oil is the very common type of basic motor oil that provides you with the minimum characteristics your vehicle needs. One of the main benefits of choosing conventional motor oil is price because it's typically affordable to every driver.

However, conventional motor oil has its drawbacks as it's not recommended for heavy-duty vehicles and might not be the best when driving a vehicle with a lot of mileage. Therefore, before you go with the cheapest option for motor oil, you need to confirm whether it's going to give you good benefits or not.

Another common drawback of conventional oils is the frequency of oil changes. Since conventional oil is known for breaking down faster than any oil mentioned in this list, you will need to perform oil change more frequently than expected. Otherwise, you might sacrifice engine overheating, which could lead to damaging the entire engine.

2.    Full synthetic motor oils

Full synthetic motor oil is considered the most top-quality motor oil you might find in the market. So that you provide your vehicle

With these amazing benefits, synthetic oil does not require frequent changes like what happens when choosing a conventional oil. Therefore, you might end up with more than 10,000 miles without needing a second oil change. First, however, you must monitor and watch for any symptoms indicating that your vehicle's oil is due for a change.

Although synthetic oil comes with many great benefits, it still has one main drawback: price. Synthetic oil is considered more expensive than all oils mentioned in this list; therefore, unless you are 100% sure you will need a vehicle that only needs synthetic oil, you're not recommended to go with it.

Keep in mind that some older vehicles might not be compatible with synthetic oil. Therefore, going with synthetic oil might cause internal damages to the weak seals inside the engine. Thus, experts recommend that you consult your mechanic before switching the synthetic oil from conventional oil.

3.    Synthetic blend motor oil

If you're too concerned about the price of synthetic motor oil, the good news is that there is a specific type of oil somewhere between conventional and synthetic oil. In other words, by switching to synthetic blend motor oil, you can get extra benefits from a high-quality oil without needing to pay higher prices. Of course, synthetic blend motor oil is not as good as synthetic oil, but it's very close.

With the synthetic blend motor oil, you still get excellent levels of low-temperature properties along with high resistance and oxidation. That's why you won't need to change synthetic blend motor oil as many times as changing conventional motor oil.

Despite the amazing benefits of synthetic blend motor oil, it is still considered more expensive than the regular conventional oil, but this is not a big problem because the difference between the two oils is not that big.

4.    High mileage motor oil

If you're driving a vehicle with high mileage, this vehicle is expected to have more damages than any other car. Once the car hits a specific threshold mileage, major mechanical problems like engine failures or transmission troubles start occurring.

The good news is that automotive experts and manufacturers realized the issue with high mileage vehicles, and that's why they came up with a specific type of motor oil known as high mileage motor oil. This motor oil provides additional characteristics to help reduce oil consumption and eliminate any oil leaks inside the vehicle.

The high mileage oil doesn't have to do anything with changing the motor oil frequency. In other words, while you don't have to change the synthetic motor oil frequently, you still need to change the high mileage motor oil more frequently depending on what's specified in the new vehicles owner’s manual.

What are the common types of motor oil additives?

As we indicated before, motor oil comes with extra additives that provide additional benefits to your vehicle. These benefits don’t necessarily have to do with lubricating the engine, but it enhances the performance and extends the lifetime of your vehicle.

Here are the common types of motor oil additives that you need to look for when purchasing your next engine oil:

1.    Antioxidants

During the lifetime of your engine, sludge and deposit can develop, impacting the engine performance. That's why many companies started adding specific chemicals, including antioxidants, to prevent oxidation and slow down deposit buildup in the engine. Thus, you'll get great benefits with enhanced engine performance whenever you purchase a motor oil that contains specific antioxidants.

2.    Anti-wear

As the name suggests, anti-wear agents help protect your engine's internal components, especially during extreme temperatures. This way, you don't have to worry about replacing the cylinder walls or probably the piston rings frequently because they will be protected.

3.    Dispersants

The engine oil is responsible for cleaning up the engine as it runs around it. Therefore, there will be a lot of contaminants and debris collected by the oil over time of use. When adding dispersants to the oil, they help absorb all possible contaminants and keep them with the oil to ensure a clean engine over time.

4.    Foam inhibitors

In some scenarios, foam might build up inside your vehicle's oil, causing it to lose some of its main characteristics. As a result, your oil won't help lubricate the engine and cool down who need it. Thanks to the foam inhibitors that help prevent foam from creating inside the oil.

5.    Viscosity index improver

Their viscosity designates motor oil. The viscosity indicates how easy oil can run through and flow through the different engine components. The thicker the oil, the higher disgustedly, the harder it is for oil to run around the engine. It's nice to have thick oil during summer conditions to keep the engine lubricated.

However, during winter, you might need a different viscosity index to accommodate the extreme weather.

Luckily, automotive experts came up with different chemicals that help improve the viscosity index and allow your oil to adapt to different conditions without any issue.

6.    Corrosion and rust inhibitors

It's not rare to deal with rust and corrosion build-up inside your engine components. Therefore, choosing a motor oil that contains some corrosion and rust inhibitors is a lifesaver because it prevents corrosion from building up and extends the lifetime of your engine. This way, you don't have to worry about installing a new engine before the end of its lifetime.

7.    Friction modifiers

Since the biggest role of your engine oil is to prevent friction, having additional chemicals to eliminate friction at extreme temperatures is a great benefit. Therefore, when choosing your next motor oil, consider checking the additives and select one with some friction modifiers to help your vehicle.


Your vehicle's oil is one of the most critical fluids you need to maintain at the right level and change it whenever necessary. The oil prevents engine overheating, cleans it up, and removes any contaminants or debris that could impact its performance.

Multi oils are not the same, and they are different types of motor oil that you need to understand and learn about to choose the right one that works for your vehicle. In the automobile market, you will come across the following types of motor oil: conventional motor oil, fully synthetic motor oil, synthetic blend motor oil, and high mileage motor oil.

Despite the type of motor oil you go with, choosing a better oil won't solve the problem if your vehicle has major mechanical problems. In other words, you will have to take care of the faulty component before thinking about the motor oil. However, if you realize that repair costs will cost you a lot of money, it might be worth investigating whether you need to sell your vehicle or not.

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  • Describe your car’s type and condition
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