Understanding Oil

Jiffy Lube® is one of the largest providers of preventive maintenance and light duty repair in North America.

Understanding Oil

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Every day Jiffy Lube® services thousands of vehicles with the Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change. Jiffy Lube helps you select the motor oil that is right for your vehicle based on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Here, you will find the answers to some of the most common questions that Jiffy Lube encounters when it comes to truly Understanding Oil.

Why Does My Vehicle Even Need Oil?

Did you know that some of the moving parts within your engine never really touch? It’s true! They ride on a thin layer of oil. One of the main functions of oil is to keep these moving parts separated from each other, preventing damage, friction and wear. Another important function of oil is cooling. As the oil circulates, it carries away some of the heat generated as a result of the combustion process. When your motor oil level is low, it will cause the engine temperature to rise. It is important to check your motor oil level frequently to make sure that this doesn’t occur.

Did you know that motor oil also plays an important role in helping to keep your engine clean? The oil within your engine is constantly cleaning as it lubricates, picking up and holding dirt, contaminants and other combustion by-products. Think of motor oil like you would think of a sponge. We all know that a sponge has the ability to pick up and hold fluids, dirt, etc. When a sponge becomes over saturated, it can no longer hold any more fluid. These same attributes apply to your motor oil. When the oil becomes saturated with contaminants and cannot hold any more in suspension, the excess falls out of suspension and can form deposits in the engine, one of which is known as sludge. Regular oil changes will remove suspended contaminants before sludge can form, helping keep your engine running cleaner, smoother and more efficiently.

When Do I Need an Oil Change? How Do I Choose the Right Type of Oil?

You want to get your oil changed before sludge starts to form. The timing of oil changes can vary, depending on the type of vehicle you drive, where you drive and how you drive. Your vehicle manufacturer has done rigorous testing to help determine the timing between oil changes and the proper oil to use. All of this information can be found in your vehicle owner’s manual, or you can easily stop by any Jiffy Lube® service center where a trained technician can help you figure out the right timing and type of oil needed in your vehicle.

What’s the difference between Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil?

The myth is that all synthetic oils are entirely man-made. They’re not. In today’s synthetic oils, crude or natural oil is purified and then structurally modified to produce improved performance. And as far as you and your vehicle are concerned, that’s really the key difference. Because of the way they’re purified and modified, synthetic oils are able to perform and protect better than any conventional oil, especially at temperature extremes inside your engine. That’s why more and more vehicle manufacturers are requiring the use of synthetic oils.

Keep in mind, though, that using a synthetic blend or full synthetic doesn’t eliminate the need for regular oil changes. Engines running on gasoline or diesel fuel naturally contaminate and stress their motor oil, and additives can only work for so long.

SAE 10W-30? SAE 5W-40? What Are These Numbers and Letters?

Let’s take SAE 10W-30 as our example. The numbers come from a standardized industry scale from the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) to describe how well an oil flows (viscosity) through an engine when the engine is cold in the morning and when the engine is warmed up and working hard. But the one thing to remember is to match this number to what is recommended in your vehicle owner’s manual. Most motor oils today have two numbers (multi-viscosity): for example, SAE 10W-30. The low number with the W (stands for Winter), or cold temperature number, relates to how well the oil can be pumped or pushed through the engine at certain cold temperatures.

The second number (in this example 30) relates to how well the oil flows at higher engine temperatures. When your engine heats up, the motor oil gets thinner. Problems can arise when the motor oil gets too thin and can no longer keep some of the moving parts separated by the oil. Your oil is always maintaining a delicate balance: it needs to flow well when the engine is cold but also maintain an oil film at higher temperatures to keep metal parts lubricated and separated. Be careful, as higher or lower viscosity numbers may not be compatible with your engine. To find out what oil grade is right for your engine, check your vehicle owner's manual.

We Take Pride In Maintaining Your Ride.

Jiffy Lube® takes pride in educating customers about the role of motor oil, as well as what the timing of your next oil change should be. To find out what type of oil and what the timing of your next oil change should be, visit your local Jiffy Lube or JiffyLube.com.