Choosing the right engine oil

Choosing the right engine oil

Tips on making sure your engine gets the right oil.

A lot of car owners could save themselves a lot of heartache and expensive repair bills if they just got in the habit of regularly checking their cars engine oil.

It’s not a difficult job popping the bonnet and checking your dipstick, but there are a couple of rules. Remember to check your oil when your engine is cold and when your vehicle is parked on a flat and level surface (this helps you get an accurate reading).

Oh and don’t forget to have a clean rag on hand to wipe the dipstick off, the most accurate reading will come from a second dip of the stick. How often should you check your engine oil? We reckon every week is a great idea.

But what oil do you choose if you find your engine needs a between services top-up?

Choosing the right oil for your engine can be a bit confusing, especially when we start talking SAE viscosity ratings. What are those? Well, they are the numbers and letters you see on oil containers – such as SAE 40 or 10W-40.

So what do they mean? Well it all has to do with how the oil performs in both cold temperatures (i.e. at start-up) and normal operating temperatures (100°c).

Your cars handbook should list the appropriate grade of oil for your engine, though when in doubt (and for most general applications) choose the oil that has the highest numbers – this will ensure better performance in both temperature extremes.

Have a diesel? Make sure you use a diesel engine oil, yes, there is a difference.

A funnel will also make getting the oil out of the container and into your engine a whole lot easier, and possible even cleaner.

Lastly, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Cheap oil is generally something that you should avoid, especially if your engine is still in good shape and you are hoping to keep it that way.

About the author

Joel Helmes

Joel is the founder, editor and managing director of Behind the Wheel. Joel has a background as a radio broadcaster with on-air roles at 4BC, 4KQ, 2KY, 2LT and 2UE amongst others, as well as a news editor and program director. Joel’s relationship with cars stems back to his early childhood learning to change oil and brakes with his father and uncle. This continued on into his driving years owning an assorted collection of cars.

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