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Your Basic Guide To Engine Oil

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Your Basic Guide To Engine Oil

Kimberlie Hutson
May 14, 2009

Kimberlie Hutson

If you own a car, you need to know about engine oil. If you let your oil level drop too low or even if you use the wrong type of oil for your car, you could increase your emissions, burn more fuel, even invalidate your warranty in some cases but most importantly, you will be doing some serious damage to your engine which will cost you more in the long run.

Why do you need oil? Oil is used to reduce the friction between moving parts, this is especially important in an engine as it has so many moving parts which could be potentially fatal if they go wrong. Oil also helps prevent corrosion and it carries heat away from engine helping it cool. All in all, when used properly engine oil can not only improve the overall efficiency of your car but it can also increase its longevity and help you when it comes to selling it on.

How do you check your oil? Under the bonnet of every car will be a dipstick, usually with either a red or yellow loop that you pull. When you pull the dipstick out, wipe it with an old rag before reinserting it to give you a correct level. This should always be done whilst the car is parked on a flat surface and when the engine is cool. All dipsticks have a minimum and maximum mark which your oil level should fall between, if it's looking low (nearer min than max) you'll need to top it up but be careful as too much oil (over the max mark) can cause damage to the engine too. If you do need to top your oil up, the oil filler cap normally has a little symbol of an oilcan on it, if you're not sure, check your owners guide and be sure.

So you've decided your engine could so with some oil, what sort do you choose? There are so many different types from so many different makes. Luckily, you shouldn't have to worry about that, your handbook or owners manual should tell you exactly what sort of oil you'd need. If you've misplaced these, any reputable retailer, either online or a physical shop, would be able to help you. If, after walking into your local car shop, if you're still unsure, any engine oil online shop will be able to offer you technical support. What does the different grade of engine oil mean? Normally, you'll get two numbers with a W in the middle. Very simply the first number is the viscosity (how thick it is) at low temperature, the second number is the viscosity at high temperature, this will usually be the more relevant of the two (unless you drive in below freezing conditions on a regular basis).

The higher the number the thicker the oil, it needs to be thinner when it's cold so it flows round the engine more effectively. The suffix of the letter W indicates it's designed for the cold i.e. winter. You can get single grade oil, but as most engines go through quite an extreme range of temperatures rather quickly, the multi grade oil is normally more advisable for most cars in most environments.

It takes five minutes to check your engine oil level and top it up, it could cost thousands in engine repair bills or even write off your car if neglected. it's better safe than poor.

Race Lubricants online shop are experts when it comes to engine oil and lubricants, they boast an extensive stock from some of the biggest names in engine oil and offer exceptionally competitive prices. If you?re not sure which oil would best suit your engine, just ask their technical support centre.

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