Motor Oil Guide for Cars

Written by lisa mason
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Motor Oil Guide for Cars
Motor oil is important to the engine (motor image by Klaus Eppele from Fotolia.com)

Most car owners know the oil that circulating throughout the engine is what keeps it running smoothly, and that without oil, the engine will lock up. What they don't know is how important it is to change your motor oil and filter regularly, and this is what causes many problems and premature engine wear. Changing the oil in your vehicle is vital to the overall maintenance of your car. This is why car owners need to know the importance of changing the oil, which oil to use, how much oil your vehicle should hold and how often it should be changed.

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Why Is Changing Your Motor Oil Important?

Motor oil lubricates the metal parts within the engine and prevents them from grinding together, thereby reducing friction. It absorbs the byproducts created by combustion and keeps the engine clean. However, when the oil gets old it begins to break down and become saturated with byproducts. When this happens it can no longer do the job it was designed to do and the parts within the engine start to wear excessively, causing damage. The older the oil gets, the less protection it provides.

Which Motor Oil Should You Use?

The manufacturer of the vehicle will recommend which grade of oil to use and this can be found in the owner's manual. However, where you live will also make a difference. Lightweight grades of oil, such as the 5W30, is often recommended in extreme cold temperatures because it will circulate quicker and lubricate the top part of the motor. In hot climates, a heavier grade of oil is recommended, such as a 10W30 or 10W40. A thicker oil is needed in extreme heat because the thin oil will break down too easily, causing wear to your engine. The owner's manual should include a chart with the recommended weight to use for extreme temperatures.

Motor Oil Guide for Cars
Know which motor oil to use (platine image by sasha from Fotolia.com)

How Many Quarts of Oil Will Your Car Hold?

The amount of oil a vehicle holds depends on its make and model. For instance, some vehicles hold four quarts of oil while others may hold five or six. The owner's manual will tell you how many quarts of oil your vehicle holds (including the oil filter) and you can use the dipstick to check the amount of oil in your car. You will find two lines on the dipstick that say minimum (min) and maximum (max) levels and your oil should always be between these two lines. If it's under the minimum level, there will not be enough oil in your car to protect it. If it's over the maximum level, over pressure can break seals and the engine will usually start burning oil as a result. Check the oil level regularly.

When Should Your Motor Oil Be Changed?

As a general rule, you should change the motor oil in your car every three thousand miles or every three months. However, it will also depend on how often you drive the car. If it sits in your garage most of time and you only drive to town once a week, then you may be able to go a year before changing the oil. On the other hand, if you drive constantly, then you may need to change it more often. The best way to tell when you need an oil change is to check it and see what it looks like. If it's still clean and looks exactly like it did when you first changed it, the oil is still good. If it's turning black, it's time for an oil change.

Motor Oil Guide for Cars
Know when to change the oil (Motor image by Conny from Fotolia.com)

Remember to Change the Oil Filter

Anytime you change the motor oil in your car you should also change the oil filter. The filter holds anywhere from a pint to quart of oil, depending on the filter, and when the oil filters through it, the debris found in the oil is trapped in the filter. When you drain the oil from your car to change it, all of this nasty oil and debris stays in the filter. If you don't change the oil filter, the new oil will go through the old filter when you crank the car. This mixes the two together and it automatically starts to break down the new oil right away.

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