Don’t Overlook the Oil Grade Numbers: What They Mean for Your Car

There's a lot of discussion within the automobile-owning community about which sort of oil is ideal for your car. You might think that all oils are essentially the same, but some people swear by one grade or another. Does the number on the bottle actually matter? Or is it all just marketing hype?


In this post, our certified technicians from Brandon Honda will take a look at what oil grades really mean and whether they can have an impact on your car. 



Oil Grade Numbers: What's the Deal?


When you're looking at oil grades, the number refers to the weight of the oil. The higher the number, the heavier and more viscous (thicker) the oil. Heavier oils are better suited for high-performance engines that run at high temperatures, while lighter oils are perfect for smaller or lower-powered engines.


Most passenger cars require an SAE 0W-20 or SAE 0W-30 oil, lightweight oil that provides good fuel economy without sacrificing performance. If your vehicle needs a different grade of oil, it will usually be specified in your owner's manual.


Keep in mind that using a heavier grade of oil than your engine needs can actually cause more stress on your engine. The thicker oil will have a more challenging time flowing through the narrow passageways in your engine, resulting in friction that can cause wear and tear over time.



Choosing an Oil Grade - What Should You Do?


When selecting an oil grade for your car, always refer to what's recommended in your owner's manual. This information is provided by the manufacturer so you can get the most out of every gallon of gas—and every drop of oil!



SAE has a few other certifications for oil grades:


Single-Viscosity Oils - Single-grade oils aren't as elastic in their performance, but they're often used in diesel engines because they don't suffer from cold temperature thickening or viscosity loss.


Multi-Viscosity Oils -These oils have been proven to perform at a wide range of temperatures. These are the most common types of oil for passenger cars and light trucks.



API Service Classification:


This identifies the level of protection an oil provides and how it will perform under certain driving conditions. The API specifications can be identified as follows:

  • SL for gasoline engines
  • SJ for diesel engines
  • SH for high-performance gasoline engines.



How to Read Oil Grade Numbers?


The most common way to identify an oil's grade is using two numbers separated by a slash. The first number represents the viscosity rating at low temperatures, while the second number is the viscosity rating at high temperatures.


An example would be "0W/40." At low temperatures, the oil has a viscosity rating of '0,' but at high temperatures, it has a rating of '40.'




If you're not sure which oil grade your car needs, the best thing to do is speak with a qualified automotive technician at Brandon Honda, serving Lakeland, FL, or bring in your car to us when it’s time for an oil change.


The wrong type of oil can actually do more harm than good, so it's essential to make sure you get the right one!


Schedule a service today!

February 22, 2022
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