Symptoms of Using the Wrong Engine Oil in Your Car – Mr Parts ©
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Symptoms of Using the Wrong Engine Oil in Your Car

Posted by Auto Surgeons on

Did you know using the wrong engine oil could actually cause damage to your car’s engine? Understanding why an inexpensive engine oil could damage your car is essential to help you make the best choices for your vehicle maintenance.

SAE Viscosity Grade and Standards

The motor oil in automobiles has to function under various temperature and pressures. For example, vehicles must endure the cold weather of the harmattan/rainy/winter season and the hot weather of the dry season. Oil has a harder time flowing in the cold and an easier time flowing in hot temperatures. And if you’re hauling a heavy load on top of that, it is even more work for the oil. This resistance to flow calculation is known as viscosity.

There are standards for measuring the characteristics of oil which have been determined by the American Petroleum Institute. SN is their latest standard set forth for all gasoline petrol engines. Because of this, all the oil you buy in the present will have to be equal or better than the previous standards (such as SJ, SL, and SM). Check your owner’s manual to find the right oil for your car and at least 2 accurate multi-grade specifications that coincide with the engine of your vehicle. Your manual should recommend an oil that has a requirement such as “compliant with standard SN of API.” 

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines a numerical system for grading motor oils according to viscosity. The suffixes (0, 5, 10, 15 and 25) followed by the letter W designate the engine oil's "winter" grade, then followed by numbers designating the engine oil's "hot temperature" grade. Today, the most common grades are 5W-30, 5W-20, 0W-20.  

Note: Whereas the labeling on the bottle of engine oil may suggest the product is a 5W-30, note, if there is no "W" between the 5 and the 30 it may not be a 5W-30. As an example, a 5-30 is not the same as an SAE 5W-30.


Effects of Using Wrong Engine Oil 

If the cold viscosity of your oil is too much, then you won’t be able to start your car in colder temperatures. If the hot viscosity of your oil is too much and then you start your car, the oil will lose its strength and it won’t lubricate the components of the engine properly. This will result in the oil being burnt.

What really matters is the viscosity rating such as 5W-30 or 0W-20. If you end up using the wrong oil in your vehicle for too long, the components of the engine won’t be lubricated as much which will result in the engine’s life being shortened. If the owner’s manual recommends you use synthetic oil, then that is what you should use. 

  American Petroleum Institute  Gasoline Engine Oil Service Classifications


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Come back to Mr Parts blog next week for more news, consumer advice, opinions and details on the best car parts for your make and model. Visit us at for advice or to see our product range with your own eyes

(Credit to: - The Petroleum Quality Institute of America, - autotechnician)

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  • My car take long time to start because of wrong engen my be .

    Abraham aAbraham on
  • My car take long time to start because of wrong engen my be .

    Abraham aAbraham on
  • automatic transmission fluid for Suzuki swift 1.3

    from Japan

    bosalem on
  • Mister parts I need help my car is it good car Honda CRV 2000 but she has a lot of miles on her over 232000. I’m pretty sure the motor was rebuilt by somebody things are different than they should be I don’t know too much about cars but I’ve learned a lot from this one anyway it acts like it’s not getting enough something but only every once in awhile. I have changed or replaced the throttle control, the fuel filter, the oil filter, the spark plugs wires head cover gasket timing belt water pump tires and the distributor cap. After replacing all of that she does run a little better but she started making this weird like spitting noise when I’m accelerating. Yesterday though the tube for the oil dipstick what is being held on by the dipstick could have been for a couple of days and I do drive on a lot of dirt roads could there be too much dirt in the oil now? Also seems somebody welded shut without a filter put a fiberglass tube on with a cone filter off to the side I don’t know if I don’t like I said I don’t really know anything about cars.

    Charrie on
  • Dear Mr. Parts really you have been so helpful to many of us
    I own the ML320 W163 gasoline engine with recommend engine oil “Mobil 1 0w-40” unfortunately there is no Mobil 1 oil around; so I used Total oil 5w-40 but the car engine started sounding poorly (knocking sound) I decided change to Castrol edge full synthetic 5w-40 but still knocking sound comes out even though the care drives well. I’m not comfortable at all; can you advice me which type of oil I should I use for my car please? thanks Robert – Tanzania east Africa

    Robert on

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