Blog     Engine Oil Grades Explained: Understanding the Different Types

Engine Oil Grades Explained: Understanding the Different Types

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From the food that you eat to the jewelry that you wear, all the products and services are classified in groups in accordance with the grades of quality. Similarly, engine oils have different degrees too. It is important to know the engine oil grades. After all, it can help you prevent engine damage.

Choosing the right oil grade for the engine is as important as choosing the right lubricant. To keep it running smoothly, oil grades are crucial to consider. A recommended grade helps in reducing friction between the engine parts. It also prevents the wearing and tearing of the engine.

The Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) provides an engine oil grades list based on their viscosities. It is described as the flowing quality of the engine oil. Different engine oils have different viscosities at room temperature. This makes them react differently to the subsequent changes in temperature.

In this article, we will be covering the following sections to give you a detailed brief. This will help you in providing a better understanding of different engine oil grades.

  • tag Benefits of engine oil
  • tag Why choosing the right engine oil is important
  • tag Types of engine oil
  • tag Types of engine oil grades explained
  • tag Engine oil grades list

Let us first learn about the benefits of the engine oil that does wonders for your car. Later on, we will see what the viscosity of the numbers means.

1. Provides lubrication

The most important task of engine oil is to provide lubrication to the engine parts. This helps in the smooth movement of the machine components. It reduces friction which prevents the wearing and tearing of the engine parts.

2. Prevents corrosion and oxidation

During the combustion process, a corrosive acid is generated that can corrode and damage the engine's metal parts. When we add additives to the engine oil, corrosion, and oxidation is slowed down. However, it doesn’t mean the same engine oil can provide long-term protection. It must be changed regularly as engine oils degrade over the course of time.

3. Equalises acid effect

As mentioned above, fuel combustion produces acid that can cause harm to the engine. Adding engine oil can help in neutralizing acids.

4. Cleans out sludge

Engine blocks should be free from dirt and debris. A blockage could be created if the sludge is not cleaned. The fundamental quality of engine oil is that it can help in cleaning the microscopic deposits that build up on the engine. The flowing engine oil carries away the impurities to the oil filter.

Why Choose The Right Engine Oil Grade?

Choosing the right engine oil as per the engine oil grades is necessary. Not all oil types work with the installed engine of your car. You must check the manufacturer’s manual and see which oil types suit the best for your car.

Engine oil should suit the local climatic conditions too so that you can ensure a longer engine lifespan. This also ensures that the engine runs properly and efficiently. All this can provide you added benefits of decreased fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

However, you ought to know the grades of engine oil to get the best performance for your car.

Types of engine oil

There are four basic types of engine oils that are available. Let’s know about them.

  • tag Conventional Motor Oil- This is the most common type of motor oil. If you have light-duty and late-model cards, then this oil works the best. It is taken from a newly refined crude oil.
  • tag Synthetic Motor Oil- This oil is thrice the amount of conventional motor oil. It provides more lubricating qualities and ensures overall engine performance. Synthetic oil type is better in the long run for your car's engine which distributes the additives evenly throughout the engine components.
  • tag Mineral Oil- These oils are more compatible with vehicles that are designed using older technologies. They are comparatively cheaper and can function under a wide range of temperatures. However, they offer very little lubrication and perform inefficiently in colder temperatures.
  • tag Semi-synthetic Motor oil- This is a blend of conventional and synthetic oil- a combination that gives affordability of mineral oil and the performance of synthetic motor oil.

What Are The Types of Engine Oil Grades?

You might have seen terms like 5W-30, 10W-30, or 20W-50 on engine oil labels. Do you know what are these?

These are the engine oil grades and these numbers denote a meaning. The numbers define the viscosity of the engine oil. Oils with low viscosity flow easier at cold temperatures to protect the engine part. And engine oils with high viscosity help in maintaining the film strength to protect the engine at high temperatures.

Let us know what they mean and understand with the help of the ‘5W-30’ and ‘10W-30’ examples.

  • tag ‘W’ in the code stands for Winter. It represents how the engine oil will react with the cold start i.e the start-up temperature.
  • tag The number that precedes ‘W’ tells about the flow of oil in cold conditions. A smaller number indicates a better engine oil flow. Considering the above example, 5W-30 will have a better cold flow in comparison to 10W-30.
  • tag The latter number indicates how finely oil will flow at the ideal and high operating temperatures. The smaller number indicates a better flow. This means 5W-30 oil will flow easier than 10W-30 engine oil at start-up temperatures. On the other hand, a 10W-30 will flow easier than a 10W-40 at normal engine operating temperatures.

List Of Different Engine Oil Grades

In this section, we will take you through the engine oil grades list-

  • 1. 0W-20

    The 0W-20 motor oil is designed to flow like a 0-weight oil during low winter temperatures. It performs like a 20-weight oil when the engine is operating at full capacity. This feature ensures that the oil will circulate quickly through the engine pathways even in frigid environments. Thus, providing lubrication to crucial engine components.

  • 2. 0W-40

    The 0W-40 can flow as smoothly as 0-weight oil during winter weather conditions but can match the viscosity of 40-weight engine oil when the engine reaches its optimal operating temperature. This feature guarantees exceptional engine performance the moment ignition is turned on.

  • 3. 5W-30

    This is the most common viscous engine oil grades which performs like a 5-weight oil during low winter temperatures and a 30-weight engine oil at its full capacity. This grade is available in different engine types- synthetic, premium full synthetic, and synthetic blend options.

  • 4. 5W-40

    This engine oil is formulated to flow like a 5-weight oil in a cold start during winters and like 40-weight once it has reached its normal operating temperature. It is one of the strongest oil that can withstand high temperatures and high pressures of modern gas and turbo diesel engines.

  • 5. 10W-40

    This type of engine oil is available in high-mileage, fully synthetic, and conventional oils. It flows like a 10-weight during winter weather conditions and 40-weight when it has achieved its optimal operating temperature. This is one of the best types of engine oil grades that can dissolve old sludge and prevent new sludge build-up.

  • 6. 15W-40

    This unique viscosity grade of 15W-40 allows it to flow like a 15-weight oil during cold start-ups in winter while providing the same level of protection as a 40-weight oil once the engine reaches its optimum operating temperature. It offers superior protection and meets the stringent requirements of PC-11 engine oil technology, making it suitable for use in diesel engines.

  • 7. 20W-40

    This engine oil grade is ideal for older vehicles or for cars in warm climates. It also helps in keeping your engine free from sludge, even when operating in very high temperatures. 20W-40 flows like a 20-weight oil in colder temperatures and then like a 40-weight oil when it reaches its maximum temperature.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, understanding the different types of engine oil grades is essential for maintaining the health of your vehicle. Choosing the right oil grade for your engine can ensure that it runs smoothly, efficiently, and for a longer period of time.

With a variety of options available, it's important to consider the climate you'll be driving in, the age and condition of your vehicle, and the manufacturer's recommendations when selecting an oil grade. Whether you're a seasoned mechanic or a first-time car owner, taking the time to learn about engine oil grades can help you make informed decisions and extend the life of your vehicle.

Check out Used Engines Inc, if you are looking for used engines and transmissions.


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