Where do you find out what kind of oil your vehicle needs? The dipstick? The internet? The owner's manual?
What is better? Synthetic or conventional?
Does mileage make a difference? Climate?
Choosing the right oil can be confusing, but is very important to the operation of your vehicle.
Where to find your vehicle's oil requirements
Your vehicle's specific oil requirements can be found in the owners manual. The manual will contain information specific to your vehicle, provisions for cold weather operation, high mileage, and other factors. Relying on solely the internet to figure out what type of oil you need may turn into a game of telephone - with the message getting distorted with each new person that passes it on. Go straight to the source.
Synthetic or conventional?
Synthetic oil will mean a greater hit to your wallet up front, but may protect your vehicle from damage in the long run.
Sludge. Doesn't sound too appealing does it? Conventional oils are more prone to pick up deposits as they circulate through your engine's moving parts. Synthetic oil is less likely to result in engine sludge. In in addition to preventing the formation of sludge, synthetic oils take longer to break down. When engine oils break down it results in the moving parts of your engine coming into contact with each other - which can then cause those parts to wear and break down. Saving money on repairs? Always a good idea.
Your mileage tells you more than when to have your next oil change. It also tells you when you may want to switch to a high mileage oil. Oils made for engines over 75,000 kms have extra conditioners and a different chemical makeup that gives your higher mileage vehicle the attention and care it needs to keep running smoothly.
Why would climate matter? We all know how "cold starts" can damage your vehicle - because it takes longer for your oil to reach prime viscosity to properly lubricate your engine. If you live in a colder climate, choose synthetic oils in the winter to ensure that the oil reaches prime viscosity faster.
Alternately, heat can break down the oil more quickly. If you live in a hotter climate, choose an oil that takes longer to break down.
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