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4 Important Things Drivers Should Know About Engine Oil

Tips - 23 December 2019

The importance of clean engine oil is simple: without it the friction subjected to your car’s moving parts will cause overheating and the engine will lose its cool and finally seize. Whilst driving we hardly pay a thought to the function engine oil performs: lubricating, cooling, and cleaning away sludge to keep your car running smoothly. Until it goes unchecked.

Good car maintenance includes checking your engine oil regularly to keep your car running and performing properly while also prolonging its lifespan. These are five of the most important factors you should know about your engine oil.

1. How to Get an Accurate Oil Level Reading

Have you ever taken a dipstick reading of your oil level at some point and each time you check it’s different? This is because oil is distributed in various parts of an engine while it is running, and to get an accurate reading you should wait for about 30 minutes after stopping to let the oil settle and the engine is cold.

Make sure your car is parked on level ground, pull out and wipe the dipstick clean before inserting it back in to get a clear reading.

2. When Should You Top Up With Engine Oil?

Check your engine oil about once a month. If your dipstick reading is halfway between the minimum and maximum mark, top up with one 500ml can of motor oil. If the level is nearer to the minimum mark, top up with 1 litre of oil, but do this in stages checking the level as you go. It’s important that you do not overfill the tank with engine oil as it can cause serious damage to your engine.

3. What Type of Engine Oil Does Your Car Need?

Using the wrong oil is almost as bad as not keeping your oil levels topped up.  Consult your car manual for the recommended viscosity – this is the oil’s resistance to flow and which is notated with “XW-XX”. In this there are three factors to know about:

  1. X = Oil flow rate at -17.8 degrees Celsius – the lower the number the less it will thicken in cold temperatures.

Example: 5W-30 will thicken less than 10W-30 in the cold

  1. W = Winter
  2. XX = Viscosity at 100 degrees Celsius – the higher the number the higher the oil’s resistance to thinning at higher temperatures.

Example: 10W-30 will thin out faster than 10W-40 in the heat

There are a variety of engine oil types between the cheaper conventional oils to the more expensive synthetic oils.

  1. Conventional – A refined crude oil, standard for most cars.
  2. Synthetic – A refined oil is broken down to molecular level and impurities removed. This oil is used in most modern engines for better performance and protection.
  3. Synthetic blend – Offers better protection than straight conventional oils while costing less than synthetic oils.
  4. Premium conventional – Made specifically for high-tech engines.
  5. High mileage – Provides flexibility to engine seals specifically for vehicles with around +120,000 km on the clock.

Engine oil also includes additives that perform a specific function. Read about Oil Additives >>

4. How to Dispose of Engine Oil

Do not pour used motor oil down the drain! It is illegal and will contaminate the water system. Recycling used motor oil can generate a substantial amount of useful daily energy required. Not only is recycling beneficial for the environment but by keeping it out of the groundwater our drinking water will be purer.

Store the oil in a sturdy, leak-proof plastic or metal container with a screw-on top – a clean plastic milk container works well.  Find a waste management company, licensed collector, or a designated drop-off point like your local car service centre.

Prevent engine failure and permanent damage with regular engine oil checks. It’s one of the easiest and quickest car maintenance checks you can do yourself in under 5 minutes. For a free vehicle safety check on tyres, batteries, brakes, exhausts, and other components, visit a Supa Quick near you.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.

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