How To Choose The Right Motor Oil For Your Vehicle

One popular misconception about motor oil that Consumer Reports debunked is that the more expensive oil you use, the better performance you’ll get. Regardless of the price, all motor oils work in the same way to keep your engine running smoothly. 

When it comes to motor oil, it’s not about getting the most expensive brand. It’s all about choosing the right motor oil for your car. Selecting the best engine oil for your vehicle may sound confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.

In this article, we’ll run you through the basics of motor oils and help you choose the right one for your car.


Viscosity is about the resistance of a fluid to flow. When it comes to engine oil, viscosity determines the speed of oil as it flows around to protect the engine.

If you pour water and honey into a cup, you’ll notice that both fluids flow at very different speeds. That’s an example of viscosity. There are generally two types of viscosity in engine oil:

  • Low viscosity: Oil with low viscosity is thinner and flows much easier to protect the engine during cold temperatures.
  • High viscosity: This type of oil is thicker and is capable of maintaining film lubrication that protects engines at higher temperatures.

When choosing the right motor oil, make sure to always refer to your car owner’s manual. The manual should have specific guidelines about the viscosity your manufacturer recommends.

Using low viscosity oil than recommended may have adverse effects on the engine. If the viscosity is too high, your engine will work harder and might even become unresponsive. Always make sure to use the recommended level of viscosity mentioned in the owner’s manual.    

Not all cars are designed to use synthetic oils.

Engine Oil Types

There are many engine oil types available and are often labeled for all kinds of purposes like off-roading or getting higher mileage. However, they can be broken down into these engine oil types:

  • Conventional oil: This type of oil is also called mineral oil. It has low resistance to oxidation and heat, which means you’ll have to change oils frequently. On average, they can last 3,000 miles before needing a change.
  • Full synthetic oil: This type of oil offers exceptionally high resistance to oxidation and heat, which makes it perfect for high-tech engines. It lasts longer than conventional oil and helps extend engine life.
  • Semi-synthetic oil: This type of oil is a blend of conventional and synthetic oils. It’s formulated to provide greater protection during heavy engine loads and higher temperatures. Semi-synthetic oil is commonly used for pick-up trucks and SUVs.

Similar to viscosity, you need the owner’s manual to find out the specific type of oils recommended by the car manufacturer. The manual may also show you what kind of specialized engine oil you can use, like high-mileage or off-road specific oils.

Some people tend to use expensive synthetic oils for their many benefits. However, not all cars are designed to use synthetic oils. It’s essential to use the recommended oil type so you can avoid spending too much on motor oil that will provide no added benefits.

Can You Use Diesel Engine Oil For Gasoline Engines?

It’s not recommended to use diesel engine oil for gasoline engines, and doing so can have adverse effects on your vehicle. Diesel and gasoline oils are made from mixing their base oil with engine oil additives to achieve a specific performance.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has different standards for each kind of engine. Gasoline engines have the character designation of S, and diesel engines have C.

These designations can be found on every engine oil container you buy to indicate what kind of engine they are for. Here are some of the designations that you will usually come across:

  • Gasoline: SJ, SM, SL, SP, and SN
  • Diesel: FA-4, CI-4, CH-4, CK-4, and CJ-4

There are specific diesel oils available that are also formulated for use in gasoline engines, and they are labeled with the S designation. If the diesel oil does not have the S designation, it is not recommended to use in gasoline engines.

Once you understand the basics of engine oils, choosing the right one will be easy. Make sure to keep your manual handy for further reference about the kind of oil you’ll need.

Auto Works of Brandon is a premier auto repair center that offers fast oil change services for a wide variety of cars, including European and import vehicles like Mercedes Benz or Audi.

If you want to have your car’s oil changed, contact us today to set an appointment for fast and convenient oil change services.


Oil Change
Auto Works Of Brandon is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call Auto Works of Brandon (813) 657-4399 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.