Skip to main content

How to Choose the Best Motor Oil for Your Car

By September 15, 2021September 29th, 2021Automobile

Often called engine oil, motor oil is one of the trickiest components of your vehicle, which leads many car owners to ask the question, “What kind of oil does my car take?” Knowing what oil to use can be tough due to the many available options. Don’t worry, we are here to help you choose the best motor oil for your car.

Next time you are in an auto parts store, or any place that sells oil, look at the motor oil labels, and you will see oils made for specific purposes: new cars, high-tech engines, high-mileage vehicles, and off-road SUVs. It is not hard to understand why vehicle owners could be confused by what motor oil they should be using.


Start by looking at your vehicle’s owner’s manual

If you read your owner’s manual, you will find out what oil to use for your car when it is new. You will see the oil expressed in a format such as 10W-30 or something similar. The number refers to the viscosity (or thickness) of the recommended oil.

A lower number before the W indicates the oil flows better in cold temperatures. The number after the dash tells you how well the oil flows when it is warmer. Higher numbers mean the oil is more viscous or heavy. Developed decades ago, multi-viscosity oils removed the worry of changing oils for winter and summer.

A word of caution on viscosity: Do not use a heavier-than-recommended oil because you believe it will provide better protection for your engine. Many car manufacturers now specify a lighter oil, such as 5W-20, because today’s engines have extremely tight clearances between their moving parts. When the engine is cold, a heavier oil might not reach into these close areas. Also, lighter oils are better for fuel economy.


Conventional or synthetic: What kind of oil does my car need?

Conventional oil is the standard for newer cars. Most vehicle manufacturers use these conventional oils, often specifying 5W-20 or 5W-30 in colder climates or 10W-30 for warmer temperatures. While these three ratings cover most of the light-duty vehicles on the road, another consideration that is even more important is how often you change your oil. Every 4,000 miles, or four months, is typically the recommended interval for conventional oil changes, with twice a year being the minimum.

Synthetic motor oil is designed for high-tech engines and heavy-duty uses. So, if you have a pick-up truck that you use for towing or a supercharged Chevy Corvette, you will likely want to be filling them with synthetic oil. For the rest of the vehicles on the road, synthetic oil can extend the oil change intervals because it offers better protection than conventional oil. It may also be safely mixed or interchanged with the traditional oil. However, unless you subject your vehicle to heavy-duty or extreme conditions regularly, it might not justify the higher cost.


What oil does my high-mileage car need?

Reportedly, about two-thirds of the vehicles on the road today have been driven more than 75,000 miles. Cars are lasting longer, and oil companies have responded with new motor oils specifically for those that have accumulated lots of miles.

Rubber seals are supposed to swell sufficiently to stop leaks, but over time they may harden and lose their flexibility. They can also crack and leak in colder temperatures. High-mileage oils are made with conditioners that run into the pores of the engine seals and restore their flexibility and shape.

Many owners of older vehicles notice some loss of performance and engine smoothness brought on by engine wear on these higher-mileage vehicles. The higher-mileage oils also have higher viscosities, along with specific additives to raise viscosity, both of which work to seal pistons against their cylinder walls and prevent leaks where engine bearing clearances have worn down. Some of the oils have anti-wear additives to slow down the wear process itself.

For those driving older vehicles, these oils provide more advantages than synthetic oils at a fraction of the price.


Protect your car with the right motor oil and the best auto insurance

Choosing the best motor oil for your car and the best insurance to protect it have at least one thing in common: they both provide you with peace-of-mind! And just as motor oil is more complicated than one would imagine, auto insurance comes with so many options and considerations that you do not want to deal with it on your own.

That is where the experts at White Cloud Insurance come in. We help you sort through all those options and arrive at the auto insurance coverage that is right for you and your family. Just fill out our contact form, call us at 305-556-1488, or send us a message at