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Why Motor Oil Matters

Api oil ratings

Most vehicle owners know surprisingly little about motor oil, a fact which is moderately surprising, given the prevalence of motor oil in our day to day lives. All internal combustion engines use motor oil, including cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, go karts, snowmobiles, boats, tractors, construction equipment, aircrafts, and generators. It’s hardly surprising that Americans are major consumers of oil, producing about 1.3 billion gallons of used oil every year.

Though most vehicle owners know that motor oil is important and that they should get an oil change every once in a while, most are quite unfamiliar with the standards associated with motor oil and the finer points of motor oil type.

Motor Oil Standards

Contrary to what many believe, a motor oil’s quality is incredibly important for proper functioning of a vehicle. That’s why the American Petroleum Institute, API, has set standards helping consumers to identify the best motor oils on the shelf. Api standards are used to certify motor oils as high quality. The best motor oils have passed API inspection and are marked with the API service symbol which resembles a donut and the certification mark which resembles a starburst. The best motor oils can be made from virgin oil or re refined oil, both of which are completely safe to use in a vehicle.

Motor Oil Types

It’s important for vehicle owners to know the best motor oils for their particular vehicles. Owners manuals will give recommendations, though most operators don’t know what the abbreviations mean. The number refers to SAE viscosity gradings and range from zero to 60 with 0 representing the lowest viscosity. Some viscosity gradings are suffixed with the letter “W” for “winter,” indicating their cold start viscosity. Many mistakenly think that the “W” stands for weight.

Another option for motor oil is re refined oil which has been re processed after prior use. The benefits to the environment are fairly obvious. Re refined oil not only lessens the need for drilling, but eliminates improper dumping of oil which can form scum on water that stops sunlight and oxygen from entering the water, thereby killing fish, frogs, plants, and other life forms.

The best motor oils should always be sought by vehicle owners, not only to extend the lives of their vehicles but to protect the environment. Educate yourself and be sure to purchase only licensed motor oil that will do the best for your engine. Learn more about this topic here.

15 thoughts on “Why Motor Oil Matters

  1. I kind of thought all motor oil was the same. My bad. Here’s hoping I haven’t done too much damage…

  2. How can you tell the difference between virgin and re refined motor oil?

  3. How can you tell the difference between virgin and re refined motor oil?

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