Fluids & Filters
The life-blood of your engine, engine oil consists of various weight mineral or synthetic oils combined with additives for engine protection. Oils may come in single or multi-grades and meet various oil performance standards. Multi-grade oils usually start out as single-grade base oils, such as SAE 10W (Society of Automotive Engineers is a large standard-setting organization for the automotive industry). Then viscosity-index improvers are added to modify viscosity. The end result is an SAE 10W-30 oil capable of flowing like a 30W oil at cold temperatures and a 10W oil at higher temperatures. The American Petroleum Institute also has classifications for oil, which are intended to address the formulation for different engine applications. You may see these designations also mentioned in your owner's manual or on the oil filler cap of the engine. The SH designation was designed for 1996 and older engines. This designation is now obsolete. The API SJ designation was introduced in 1996 and applies to all automotive engines currently in use. The SL designation was released in 2001 and offers improved performance for 2002 models, such as fuel economy and control over engine deposits. There are numerous other designations, but they are generally obsolete or do not apply to today's cars.
Engine oil lubricates, cleans, and cools critical parts of the engine. The oil's additives also help to suspend dirt, where it can be drained at the next oil change.
Periodic oil and filter changes keep your engine clean on the inside. Motor oil can become contaminated by dust, metallic shavings, condensation, and even antifreeze. Additives break down over time and can also act as contaminants. The best advice is to follow the guidelines provided in the vehicle owner's manual, but every 5,000 kilometres or 3 months is a good rule of thumb for oil and filter changes. Many car manufacturers today are recommending extended oil drain intervals for some drivers. However, if you regularly make short trips in your car, drive in stop-and-go traffic, idle for extended periods, drive in dusty or dirty air conditions, tow a trailer or live in a cold-weather region, it's best to stick with a 5,000- kilometre/3-month regimen.