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.
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(Credit to: www.pqiamerica.com - The Petroleum Quality Institute of America, https://cartreatments.com - autotechnician)