Oil / Engine Oil is critical to the longevity of your car or truck's engine.
While its primary function is to lubricate all the moving parts of the
engine, it's also vital in that it helps to cool the engine by transferring
heat away from the engine parts. Another function of motor oil is to clean
the engine of build-up and chemicals as you drive, it also keeps the
engine's parts coated in oil to prevent internal rusting.
Determining the right quality and
quantity: If you're new to changing your own oil, your first step
is to simply pop open the glove box and pull out your owner's manual. Your manual
will likely have a section labeled "Capacities and Specifications"
as well as a section called "Maintenance Schedule".
"Capacities and Specifications", run
down the page until you find the section listing "motor oil' and
you will find the quantity of oil you will need to buy. For
example the quantity might look like this:
you'll need to find the quality standard that the manufacturer
requires, you will need to purchase this quality at the "minimum"
but the oil on the shelves will likely be of better quality than
this minimum requirement. Ask your parts counter person if you are
Example of quality requirement may look like this:
Engine oil which meets GM
Standard GM6094M and displays
the American Petroleum Institute
Certified for Gasoline Engines
starburst symbol. see Engine Oil on
Viscosity refers to how thick or thin the oil is. You can see (above) it is telling you to go to another
page (5-13 in this case) where you will consider what temperatures you'll be driving in.
In this case the manufacturer only recommends one viscosity choice for hot
and cold weather driving; some vehicles will have more arrows representing
different viscosities and temperature extremes. You can see how the black arrow covers all
temperatures and has an "SAE
5W-30" label printed below the arrow. "SAE
5W-30" represents the oil viscosity you are to choose for that temperature
As shown in the viscosity chart, SAE 5W-30 is best
for your vehicle.
These numbers on an oil container show its
viscosity, or thickness. Do not use other viscosity
oils such as SAE 20W-50.
Oils meeting these
requirements should also
have the starburst
symbol on the container.
This symbol indicates
that the oil has been
certified by the American
Petroleum Institute (API).
Now you know the Quantity,
Quality and Viscosity of the oil you need to purchase.
You will also
need an oil filter:
Your oil filter plays an extremely
important role, in that it removes contaminants from the oil as you
drive before they can harm your engine. The better the oil filter
you purchase the more contaminants the filter can trap and retain.
You will need to tell the person at the parts counter a few things
about your car such as the make, model, engine size and year of your
vehicle. He will give you two or three different choices concerning
the quality and price of the filter - always choose the best oil
filter you can buy. Auto parts stores such as NAPA are often the
best place to buy quality filters at discounted prices, they're
usually happy to assist a newbie regarding quality; and buying
several filters at a time will save you a special trip later.