Auto Questions Answered: What Kind of Oil Should I Use for My Car?

Some of the most frequently asked automotive care questions are about which kinds of oil to use in cars or trucks. The answer depends on the make and model of vehicle, your location and driving habits. Find out what kind of oil for my car is the best choice and where you can buy motor oil.

How Do I Find Out Which Kind of Oil To Use?

Check the owner’s manual or maintenance guide for your vehicle to find out which type of oil the manufacturer recommends. The make and model can determine the recommended viscosity and type of oil and indicate the oil capacity of your car or truck. You can also check specifications for related parts, from a Mr Gasket oil filler tube to replacement oil filters.

Many drivers are familiar with the XW-XX format for notating oil viscosity, such as 10W-30, but do not know what these numbers and letters mean. The first number and the letter W indicate how well oil flows at 0 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter. The second number indicates the viscosity of the same oil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Are the Different Types of Oil?

There are three main types of engine oil: conventional, synthetic and semi-synthetic. Conventional oil is the most affordable up front, but has the shortest life. Synthetic oil is higher quality oil that gets more refined and contains premium additives and detergents. As a result, synthetic oil is the most expensive and longest lasting type of motor oil.

Blends of conventional and synthetic oil with additives and detergents have mid-range prices. Semi-synthetic oil is the minimum grade recommended for most late model vehicles. It is not worthwhile to try mixing conventional and synthetic oil yourself. Without the premium additives used in blended oil products, the resulting oil will be of conventional quality.

How Often Should I Do Oil Changes?

Vehicle manuals often include mileage guidelines or a timeline for oil changes based on the recommended grade of oil. The standard recommendation is to change conventional oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Synthetic or semi-synthetic oil can last longer between changes.

Based on the type of oil in your vehicle and your driving habits, you may be able to go 7,000 miles, 10,000 miles or even 15,000 miles between oil changes. Oil life monitoring systems in newer vehicles notify drivers when it is time to change the oil. It is also a good idea to check manufacturer’s recommendations for changing the oil in a Transit Connect gearbox or other scheduled maintenance.

Where Can I Get the Right Oil for My Car?

Once you know which oil to use in your vehicle, you can buy motor oil at the nearest auto parts store location or online. If the brand, type or rating of oil you need is out of stock, you can order oil for in-store pickup or home delivery. Check the capacity of your car or truck and buy enough for an oil change and occasional top-ups as needed.