What type of oil are you getting?

When you take your car to your local repair shop for an oil change, what type of oil are you getting and how do you know what type of oil your car takes? To find what type of oil your car requires is very simple, it is listed in your owner’s manual. If you do not have an owner’s manual, you should be able to find out the information on the internet.

Before answering the first question, I would like to explain what the numbers on the oil can represent. Let’s say for instance your car takes 5w-30, but what type of 5w-30? Yes there are different types of 5w-30 as well as other viscosities. I’ll get to that in a minute; I think it’s best to explain what the 5w-30 represents. The first number, 0w, 5w, 10w, 15w or whatever the number is, is the weight of the oil when it is cold. The smaller the number, the thinner the oil. For example; let’s say 0w is like milk and 80w is like honey. Get it? The second number is the weight of the oil when it is hot. Same as the first number, the smaller the number, the thinner the oil. Now I’m going to take this to the next level. Your manufacturer has specified what type of oil beyond the viscosity and that is the API service code. On the back of the oil can is a symbol that looks like this.                        

Be sure this API service code matches your vehicles manufacturer recommendations. For a complete list of API service codes, clink this link.


The next time you get your oil changed, ask to see the can to verify for yourself that you are getting the correct oil. DO NOT TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT, especially if you are getting a “cheap” oil change. Anything under $30 would be considered a “cheap” oil change. If you’re at one of those drive thru places where they buy oil in bulk, ask to see a material data sheet. A good shop should have them on hand. The down side to bulk oil is you have to trust that they are showing you the correct material data sheet for the oil they are selling you. I‘m sorry if I seem a little cynical about this but I know my industry and I want you the customer to feel confident in your oil change purchase.

This is just a quick little blog to try and teach you, the customer, the correct questions to ask. I could elaborate many more pages about this subject but am trying to keep it simple. If you would like more information about oil, contact me and I will try my best to answer your questions. Remember, not all oils are the same, make sure you are getting the correct oil for your car!

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