How Oil Viscosity and Climate Affect Your Engine
Whenever you’re getting your oil changed, it’s important to put some thought into the process. If you put the wrong kind of oil into your engine or wait too long to complete this service, you risk causing damage to your engine. Below, you can learn about how oil viscosity and climate affect your engine so you can give your vehicle the care it deserves.
What Does Motor Oil Do?
Motor oil is essential for protecting the various metal components within your engine. For example, the pistons in your engine move up and down within their cylinders as they react to the combustion process. Your engine’s pistons also operate a crankshaft that sends torque to your transmission, which helps your vehicle move forward. Pushrods, rockers, and lifters move with the camshaft, which is motion that allows your engine’s valves to close and open to push exhaust out and let fuel and air in.
Without motor oil, these metal pieces would constantly grind against each other. Motor oil acts as a thin barrier to protect an engine’s various moving parts. It’s an excellent lubricant that prevents excess heat from building up and reduces friction within the engine.
What Is Oil Viscosity?
Viscosity, as it relates to the car maintenance world, is a measure of how thick motor oil is. It’s important that motor oil isn’t too thick nor too thin. It needs to be thick enough to cover all the engine components adequately. However, it also needs to be thin enough so it can easily flow through all the small spaces within the vehicle’s engine.
How Do You Interpret an Oil’s Viscosity?
When you go to an auto shop or a car dealership to purchase motor oil, you’ll likely see various types of oil. Oils from different brands, and even oils from the same brand, have different viscosities. Before you purchase any product, you can first learn what the designations mean.
On most modern oil products, you’ll see two numbers. The presence of two numbers signifies that the product is multi-grade, which means it can act like both a low-viscosity oil and a high-viscosity oil.
For example, you may see an oil with a viscosity of 10W-30. A “W” always comes after the first number, and this letter stands for “Winter.” It indicates how well oil flows whenever the conditions are cold, such as when the first engine is first starting up. The second number relates to how well the motor oil flows when the engine has already started up and is operating at its normal high temperatures.
A lower number indicates that there will be better flow under the various heat conditions. For example, imagine you have two oil products, one with a viscosity rating of 10W-30 and the other with a viscosity rating of 0W-30. The 0W-30 oil will flow more easily than the 10W-30 oil when the engine is first starting up or otherwise cold, because the first number in the first product is lower than the first number in the second product.
Now, imagine that you have two oil products, the first with a rating of 5W-30 and the second with a rating of 5W-40. At normal operating temperatures, the first oil product will flow more easily because its second number is lower than the second number of the second product. Some vehicles require a more viscous oil at higher temperatures, so maybe your vehicle would be better served by that 5W-40 oil than by the 5W-30.
What Happens If You Use the Wrong Oil for Your Engine?
Always check what kind of motor oil your engine accepts before you use it during an oil change. Using the wrong kind of motor oil may cause your engine’s performance to suffer. For example, if you choose an oil that’s too thick, it won’t be able to flow through your engine properly. On the other hand, if you choose an oil that’s too thin, it wouldn’t provide adequate protection to all the engine components.
If you’re unsure of which oil to use for your engine, you can take your vehicle to our service department at Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Centerville. Here, our technicians will determine the oil your engine needs and perform an efficient oil change so you can get back on the road.
How Does Climate Affect Your Engine?
As we’ve stated above, oil flows differently when the engine is cold and first starting up than when it’s running normally. It’s also worth noting that the temperature outside may affect how your engine works. When it’s hot outside, the excess heat may cause your engine oil to break down more quickly. That’s why experts recommend vehicle owners use thicker oil in the summer because the heat tends to break it down as the hot summer days drag on.
When the temperature begins to drop outside, it’s common practice to switch to thinner motor oil. Thinner motor oil is helpful when it’s cold outside because the lack of heat will cause the oil to thicken naturally, so it’s best to start with a thinner oil from the get-go.
If you’re thinking about changing your oil to complement the temperature outside, you can explore our service specials for deals on an oil change for your vehicle.
What Happens If You Skip Oil Changes for Your Vehicle?
Even if you use the right motor oil for your engine, it won’t last forever. If you skip oil changes and have low-quality oil making its way through your car’s engine, you may notice the following effects:
- An engine that runs loudly.
- General wear and tear to your engine due to excess friction.
- A voided vehicle warranty.
- Lower fuel economy.
Getting regular oil changes will help ensure the longevity of your engine. You can prevent the need for a premature repair or an entire replacement. You can also achieve better engine performance and greater fuel efficiency if your engine has unclogged oil that can perform its lubrication duties properly.
If you’re due for an oil change, you can schedule service online here at Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Centerville or call us at (937) 519-3542. Our technicians will change your vehicle’s oil for you and complete any other services for which you may due, including a tire rotation or fluid top-offs.