HOW TO CHOOSE AN ENGINE OIL

What's written on your oil bottle, and what does it mean?

This post may seem like going back to basics but I'm constantly surprised by the number of people who do not know, or understand, what is written on a bottle of oil, and therefore have no idea what they are buying/using.

To be blunt about the subject, if a bottle of oil does not contain the following basic information then DO NOT buy it! Look for something that does!

1) The purpose for which it is intended (i.e. Motor oil, Gear oil etc)

2) The viscosity (i.e. 10w40, 5w30 etc for Motor oils and 80w90, 75w90, etc for Gear oils)

3) The specifications that it meets (should contain both API and ACEA ratings)

4) The OEM Approvals that it carries and the codes (i.e. MB229.3, VW503.00, BMW LL01 etc)

Ignore the marketing blurb on the label - in many cases it's meaningless and I'll explain later what statements you should treat with some scepticism.

So, what does the above information mean and why is it important?

THE BASICS

All oils are intended for an application and in general are not interchangeable. You would not for example put an Automatic Transmission Oil or a Gear Oil in your engine! It's important to know what the oil's intended purpose is.

VISCOSITY

Most oils on the shelves today are "Multigrades", which simply means that the oil falls into 2 viscosity grades (i.e. 10w-40 etc)

Multigrades were first developed some 50 years ago to avoid the old routine of using a thinner oil in winter and a thicker oil in summer.

In a 10w-40 for example the 10w bit (W = winter, not weight or watt or anything else for that matter) simply means that the oil must have a certain maximum viscosity/flow at low temperature. The lower the "W" number the better the oil's cold temperature/cold start performance.

The 40 in a 10w-40 simply means that the oil must fall within certain viscosity limits at 100°C. This is a fixed limit and all oils that end in 40 must achieve these limits. Once again the lower the number, the thinner the oil: a 30 oil is thinner than a 40 oil at 100°C etc. Your handbook will specify whether a 30, 40 or 50 etc is required.

SPECIFICATIONS

Specifications are important as these indicate the performance of the oil and whether they have met or passed the latest tests, or whether the formulation is effectively obsolete or out of date. There are two specifications that you should look for on any oil bottle and these are API (American Petroleum Institute) and ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Europeens d'Automobiles) all good oils should contain both of these, and an understanding of what they mean is important.

API

This is the more basic as it is split (for passenger cars) into two catagories. S = Petrol and C = Diesel, most oils carry both petrol (S) and diesel (C) specifications.

The following table shows how up to date the specifications the oil are:

PETROL

SG - Introduced 1989 - has much more active dispersant to combat black sludge.

SH - Introduced 1993 - has same engine tests as SG, but includes phosphorus limit 0.12%, together with control of foam, volatility and shear stability.

SJ - Introduced 1996 - has the same engine tests as SG/SH, but phosphorus limit 0.10% together with variation on volatility limits

SL - Introduced 2001 - all new engine tests reflective of modern engine designs meeting current emissions standards

SM - Introduced November 2004 - improved oxidation resistance, deposit protection and wear protection, also better low temperature performance over the life of the oil compared to previous categories.

Note:

All specifications prior to SL are now obsolete and, although suitable for some older vehicles, are more than 10 years old, and do not provide the same level of performance or protection as the more up to date SL and SM specifications.

DIESEL

CD - Introduced 1955 - international standard for turbo diesel engine oils for many years, uses single cylinder test engine only

CE - Introduced 1984 - improved control of oil consumption, oil thickening, piston deposits and wear, uses additional multi cylinder test engines

CF4 - Introduced 1990 - further improvements in control of oil consumption and piston deposits, uses low emission test engine

CF - Introduced 1994 - modernised version of CD, reverts to single cylinder low emission test engine. Intended for certain indirect injection engines

CF2 - Introduced 1994 - defines effective control of cylinder deposits and ring face scuffing, intended for 2 stroke diesel engines

CG4 - Introduced 1994 - development of CF4 giving improved control of piston deposits, wear, oxidation stability and soot entrainment. Uses low sulphur diesel fuel in engine tests

CH4 - Introduced 1998 - development of CG4, giving further improvements in control of soot related wear and piston deposits, uses more comprehensive engine test program to include low and high sulphur fuels

CI4 Introduced 2002 - developed to meet 2004 emission standards, may be used where EGR ( exhaust gas recirculation ) systems are fitted and with fuel containing up to 0.5 % sulphur. May be used where API CD, CE, CF4, CG4 and CH4 oils are specified.

Note:

All specifications prior to CH4 are now obsolete and, although suitable for some older vehicles, are more than 10 years old and do not provide the same level of performance or protection as the more up to date CH4 & CI4 specifications.

If you want a better more up to date oil specification then look for SL, SM, CH4, CI4

ACEA

This is the European equivalent of API (US) and is more specific in what the performance of the oil actually is. A = Petrol, B = Diesel and C = Catalyst compatible or low SAPS (Sulphated Ash, Phosphorus and Sulphur).

Unlike API the ACEA specs are split into performance/application catagories as follows:

A1 Fuel economy petrol

A2 Standard performance level (now obsolete)

A3 High performance and/or extended drain

A4 Reserved for future use in certain direct injection engines

A5 Combines A1 fuel economy with A3 performance

B1 Fuel economy diesel

B2 Standard performance level (now obsolete)

B3 High performance and/or extended drain

B4 For direct injection car diesel engines

B5 Combines B1 fuel economy with B3/B4 performance

C1-04 Petrol and light duty Diesel engines, based on A5/B5-04 low SAPS, two way catalyst compatible.

C2-04 Petrol and light duty Diesel engines, based on A5/B5-04 mid SAPS, two way catalyst compatible.

C3-04 Petrol and light duty Diesel engines, based on A5/B5-04 mid SAPS, two way catalyst compatible, higher performance levels due to higher HTHS.

Note: SAPS = Sulphated Ash, Phosphorous and Sulphur.

Put simply, A3/B3, A5/B5 and C3 oils are the better quality, stay in grade performance oils.

APPROVALS

Many oils mention various OEM's on the bottle, the most common in the UK being VW, MB or BMW but do not be misled into thinking that you are buying a top oil because of this.

Oil Companies send their oils to OEM's for approval however some older specs are easily achieved and can be done so with the cheapest of mineral oils. Newer specifications are always more up to date and better quality/performance than the older ones.

Some of the older OEM specifications are listed here and depending on the performance level of your car are best ignored if you are looking for a quality high performance oil:

VW - 500.00, 501.00 and 505.00

Later specs like 503, 504, 506 and 507 are better performing more up to date oils

MB - 229.1

Later specs like 229.3 and 229.5 are better performing more up to date oils.

BMW - LL98

Later specs like LL01 and LL04 are better performing more up to date oils.

 

FINALLY

Above is the most accurate guidance I can give without going into too much depth however there is one final piece of advice regarding the labelling.

Certain statements are made that are meaningless and just marketing blurb, here are a few to avoid!

• Recommended for use where.....

• May be used where the following specifications apply.....

• Approved by...........(but with no qualification)

• Recommended/Approved by (some famous person, these endorsements are paid for)

• Racing/Track formula (but with no supporting evidence)

Also be wary of statements like "synthetic blend" if you are looking for a fully synthetic oil as this will merely be a semi-synthetic.

Like everything in life, you get what you pay for and the cheaper the oil the cheaper the ingredients and lower the performance levels.

 

Do It Yourself

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR OWN OIL
Step-by-Step Oil Change Instructions
There are really two kinds of people, those who change their own motor oil and those who have someone do it for them. Both are fine options. If you have decided to roll up your sleeves, here are some handy tips for changing your oil.
1. Park vehicle on level surface, engage parking brake and turn off engine. If necessary, raise front of vehicle by driving it onto a ramp or by jacking it up and supporting it with jack stands.
CAUTION: NEVER GET UNDER A VEHICLE SUPPORTED ONLY BY A JACK! WE ALSO RECOMMEND WHEEL CHOCKS TO HELP PREVENT WHEELS ON THE GROUND FROM ROLLING.
 
2. Open hood.
3. Locate engine oil dipstick and remove (helps oil flow when draining).
4. Once vehicle is safely and securely supported, put on safety glasses, crawl under vehicle and locate engine’s oil pan. (See owner’s manual for reference.)
 
5. Locate oil drain plug, which is a long bolt head at bottom of pan. The drain plug allows the oil to drain out of the pan. (Note: Some vehicles have two drain plugs.)
6. Position a container, such as an approved oil catch pan, under drain plug. Make sure the catch pan is large enough to hold the volume of oil expected to drain out of the engine. Check your owner’s manual for the volume of oil that your car requires.
7. Loosen drain plug using box-end wrench or 6-pt. socket. Carefully remove plug by hand, making sure catch pan is underneath plug hole. Oil will flow rapidly from hole, but allow several minutes for all old oil to drain out. (See vehicle owner’s manual for additional information.) CAUTION: OIL MAY BE HOT!
 
8. Wipe the oil pan threads and oil drain plug with a rag and visually inspect the condition of the oil pan and oil drain plug threads and gasket. Buy a replacement drain plug if you have any concerns about the condition of the plug. Replace the drain plug gasket if needed (some OEMs recommend this). Once the oil is finished draining, reinstall the oil drain plug and tighten with the correct box-end wrench or 6-pt. socket to the manufacturer-specified torque. (See owner’s manual.)
 
9. Locate oil filter. If the old and new oil filters are not the same, double-check the application to be sure you have the correct filter. (See vehicle’s owner’s manual for additional information.)
 
10. Position oil catch pan under oil filter to catch any residual oil remaining inside filter.
11. Loosen oil filter or oil filter cap with oil filter wrench, and allow oil to drain from oil filter.
 
12. Remove oil filter. Check to make sure filter gasket has come off with the filter. If it's still clinging to the engine mounting plate, remove it and any remaining residue.

13. Place a light coating of new oil on the gasket of the new oil filter so it will install smoothly onto engine. (Note: Do not use grease!) By hand, install new oil filter onto engine by turning in a clockwise direction. Once the oil filter gasket first contacts the mounting plate gasket surface, tighten filter according to directions for your application (usually found on the new oil filter or oil filter box), preferably by hand. Generally, this is three-quarters to one full turn after the filter gasket contacts the engine. (NOTE: Cartridge oil filter replacement procedures may differ. See owner's or service manual for instructions.)
14. Under the hood, remove the oil fill cap and pour in the correct amount of ATROD® motor oil of the correct viscosity with a funnel. (See vehicle’s owner's manual for recommended grade, specification and amount.)
 
15. Replace oil fill cap.
16. Start engine and run at idle for minimum of 30 seconds. Carefully inspect under vehicle for oil leaks (especially by oil drain plug and oil filter). If leaks are visible, shut off engine immediately and repair leaks.
 
17. Shut off engine and allow 30 seconds for oil to settle in the engine. Carefully inspect the area beneath the vehicle for oil leaks.
 
18. Safely lower vehicle to level ground.
 
19. Install and remove oil dipstick and check for proper oil level, adding more oil if necessary. (See vehicle’s owner’s manual for oil capacity and recommended oil level on dipstick.)
 
20. Repeat oil change with ATROD® motor oil as directed by manufacturer’s guidelines.
These instructions are intended as general guidelines. Please consult your owner’s or service manual for specific instructions on changing the oil and filter on your vehicle. Use extreme caution when lifting or jacking any vehicle.

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR OWN TRANSMISSION FLUID
1. Park vehicle on level surface, engage parking brake and start engine. Leave car in neutral or park. Let engine warm up and continue to run throughout operation unless vehicle's owner's manual says otherwise. (Be aware that some automatic transmission fluid levels are checked with the engine off. Check owner's manual.)
2. Locate automatic transmission fluid dipstick, typically near where the transmission or transaxle meets rear of the engine. It looks similar to the oil dipstick.
3. Remove automatic transmission fluid dipstick. Wipe clean, reinsert fully and remove again.
CAUTION: FLUID MAY BE HOT!
4. Observe markings at end of dipstick. Your dipstick might have two markings for "full"—one warm, one cold. If the automatic transmission fluid level does not come up to the "warm" line, you'll need to add automatic transmission fluid.
5. Insert long funnel into automatic transmission fluid dipstick hole. Carefully add automatic transmission fluid in small increments and recheck level each time until fluid level reaches "warm" line.
CAUTION: DO NOT OVERFILL OR SPILL AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID ON HOT ENGINE PARTS!
6. Reinsert automatic transmission fluid dipstick fully. You're done!
DID YOU KNOW?
Your vehicle shouldn't lose automatic transmission fluid in normal operation, so if the level is down there's a good chance there's a leak somewhere. Consult a service professional immediately to have it addressed to avoid possible damage to the transmission. Also, some automatic transmissions do not have dipsticks or may require that a service professional inspect the automatic transmission fluid level. Check the vehicle's owner's or service manual.
Note: These instructions are intended as general guidelines. Please consult your owner's or service manual for specific instructions on changing the oil and filter on your vehicle. Use extreme caution when lifting or jacking any vehicle.

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR OWN BRAKE FLUID
1. Locate brake master cylinder reservoir. It is usually mounted on or near firewall at rear of engine compartment, almost directly in front of where the brake pedal is mounted on other side of bulkhead. Consult vehicle's owner's manual if you're having trouble identifying it.


2. Check fluid level.
• Newer vehicles: Most newer vehicles have a translucent reservoir with a clearly marked "full" line. If your vehicle has this style reservoir, you can check the fluid level without removing the screw-off cap.
• Older vehicles: Most older (early 1980s and older) vehicles have a metal reservoir with a top held on by a spring-loaded clamp. Wipe the exterior of the top clean to help prevent any debris from entering brake fluid. You'll need to pry the clamp to one side, then lift off the top to inspect the level. The "full" line should be clearly marked.


3. If level is low, add brake fluid to "full" line.
IMPORTANT: A drop in brake fluid typically indicates that your brake pads have worn to the point of needing maintenance. Be sure to have your brakes checked by a professional.
CAUTION: DO NOT USE BRAKE FLUID OTHER THAN THE SPECIFIC TYPE RECOMMENDED FOR YOUR VEHICLE. Do not overfill. If your vehicle has a dual-chamber reservoir, fill both chambers to "full" line. If reservoir is extremely low or empty, it may not be safe to drive your vehicle. Consult an ASE-certified brake technician immediately.


4. Replace cap/top. You're done!
WARNING: BRAKE FLUID MAY BE EXTREMELY TOXIC. WASH HANDS THOROUGHLY AFTER HANDLING. DO NOT GET IN EYES. DO NOT SPILL ON PAINT.

DID YOU KNOW?
Your vehicle shouldn't lose brake fluid in normal operation. The level drops only slightly with wear of brakes. So if the level is down there's a chance there's a leak somewhere. Consult a service professional immediately to have it addressed and avoid possible dangerous reduction in brake performance. Also, your vehicle takes a specific type of brake fluid; typically (but not always), DOT3 or DOT4. In newer vehicles, it will often say right on the brake fluid reservoir cap. If not, consult your vehicle's owner's manual.
CAUTION: DO NOT USE BRAKE FLUID OTHER THAN THE SPECIFIC TYPE RECOMMENDED FOR YOUR VEHICLE.


Note: These instructions are intended as general guidelines. Please consult your owner's or service manual for specific instructions on changing the oil and filter on your vehicle. Use extreme caution when lifting or jacking any vehicle.

Email:
Subject:
Message:

Atrod Dubai Lubricants U.A.E

info@atrod.com
0097165310441

Get In Touch