How Long Do CVT Transmissions Last? However, if instead of a W you see numbers between 20 and 60, this refers to the oil’s viscosity at hotter temperatures. You’ll be fine. What do these numbers mean? If you live in a very cold nation like Finland, you might need even thinner oil like 0W30. I agree to receive emails from Motor Authority. But it is necessary to choose the perfect type and quality of the oil. Following this number system every time you change the oil is necessary. Your engines rotating parts are protected from heat and friction by a thin layer of oil. Syrup, for example, has a high viscosity, while water has a low viscosity. The number to the right of the W refers to the oil viscosity at hotter temperatures. Most people do not consider looking at these numbers. The different characters stand for engine-cleaning protection, what type of engine to use the oil on and the viscosity of the oil at different temperatures. In a nutshell, the numbers before and after the W represent viscosity. It is to identify the characteristics of the oil according to the temperature. It is good to have thick oil in hot temperatures because it will do a better job of lubricating the engine’s components. Automotive oil comes labeled with letters and numbers coding oil weight and additives. If you live in a tropical area with a lot of heat, you will want this second number to be high because it means the oil is thick. How to Read Tire Size (What Sidewall Numbers Really Mean), 5 Best Oil Filters for Synthetic Motor Oil, 10w30 vs 10w40 Motor Oil (What's the Difference? Viscosity refers to the thickness or thinness of the oil. The letter “W” itself stands for Winter. Watch the full video for more details on how motor oil works. Hope you now have a complete understanding of what do the numbers on oil mean. Different cars require different kinds of motor oil, which is why those numbers on the bottle are so important. Engineering Explained on conventional vs. synthetic motor oil. However, the manufacturer doesn’t always take into account where you are living in the world or where you might be relocating too with your vehicle. An important aspect about oil changes involves choosing the right type of oil. These engine oils have specific numbers and specifications. Facts and Fallacies! You made it simple and it’s well understood! Viscosity is the stickiness or thickness of the oil. Stock photography by. I agree to receive emails from Motor Authority. In North America, the standard motor oil to use is 10W30 or 5W30. That is why a regular engine oil change is a necessary part of servicing and maintenance. So that means a 5w-20 motor oil will have the viscosity characteristics of a 5 weight motor oil when cold. Moreover, because of being passionate to learn about the recent happenings in auto industry, he doesn’t only provide great car maintenance tips, he also always updates latest trends in among car brands and share them in his own interesting viewpoint. They put in 10w30. These alphabets represent temperature requirement of the oil. In these tests, the focus is on seal leakage and the ability of the oil to protect internal engine components when it's in a thinner state. That's largely down to efficiency, according to Fenske. Generally the numbers on the engine oil represent its thickness or thinness. Thinner oils produce less friction, meaning less energy is required for rotating engine parts to move. Some examples of this include 10W30, 5W20, 5W30, 10W40, etc. Cold testing usually ranges from -10 degrees Celsius to -40 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit to -40 degrees Fahrenheit), according to Fenske. When wondering what do the numbers on oil mean, knowing the viscosity of oil you are using is important. Manufacturers typically uses additives to achieve temperature-specific viscosity ratings, and those ratings are certified with multiple tests. There are various alphabets on the panel also. Whether you are changing oil by own or a professional is doing it for you, make sure you know how thick or thin it is. These numbers differentiate car oil to that of truck oil. Looking for a good online repair manual? Thanks. A 10W-30 rating means an oil has a viscosity grade of 10 in cold temperatures ("W" stands for "winter"), and 30 in warm temperatures. Will this hurt my engine. Jason Fenske at Engineering Explained has a quick video explanation of what those numbers mean. Oil weight doesn't refer to how heavy an oil is; it's a measure of viscosity, or the thickness of a fluid. The engine oil protects the operating parts from overheating and friction. Driving with Low Tire Pressure: How Dangerous Is It? Automotive Oil What do the oil numbers 10W-30 mean? One is for lower temperature, and other is for higher. Otherwise, it will be harder for thicker oil to flow throughout your engine and lubricate its components. The second number is the viscosity, how it will flow, when hot. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Even if you have your oil changed by a professional, they normally put a sticker on your windshield which indicates the numbers of the oil they used in your vehicle. The higher the number on the bottle, the thicker the oil. Sign up to get the latest performance and luxury automotive news, delivered to your inbox daily! The number to the left of the W refers to the oil viscosity when the temperatures are low. Number on the left of the alphabet is for viscosity when temperature is low, and on the right it is for higher temperatures. Your email address will not be published. A thin layer of lubricant inside the engine keeps the parts running perfectly. According to the expert maintenance tips, checking oil specifications would be an ideal choice. I now have an understanding of what is going on in my engine through the season. You may have noticed the numbers on oil bottles getting lower recently, with some oils even wearing a 0W rating. Every oil container has a series of numbers on it with the letter “W” in the middle of them. What do the letters on lubricant bottles mean? (Here’s What to Do), What To Do If Your Car Breaks Down (How to Be Prepared), 6 Symptoms of a Bad Timing Chain (and Replacement Cost), Eco Mode: How It Works and When to Use It, KYB vs Monroe (Shocks and Struts Comparison). Click Here for the 5 best options. Therefore, you need to understand the various types of motor oils so that you can make your own best judgment. © 2020 MH Sub I, LLC. But what do the numbers on oil mean? This is what the numbers mean. Here Is The Answer, Working Principle Of A Car Air Intake System, Car Clicks When Trying to Start: Causes and Solutions. I’m in a lower climate area also. There is no specific engine type and you can use the lubricant in any car type. As you may know, viscosity means the thickness of a fluid. Tsukasa Azuma is an awesome car blogger of Car From Japan. Likewise, if you live in a very hot country like Nigeria, you could be using 10W40, 20W50, or 15W40. The second number will be dependent on two things; the temperature of your engine and the heat of your environment. In the case of motor oil, it is the thickness of the oil under certain temperature conditions. Great advice. As you may know, viscosity means the thickness of a fluid. A lot of engineering goes into the numbers on each bottle of oil. They usually take car to the service center and ask the professional to change the oil. Most oil manufacturing companies use S for petrol base engine oils and C for diesel ones. He owns a car repair shop at downtown Osaka, and he put all that experience to good use in his sharing posts. I’ve Always used 5w30 castrol Oil in my 1994 cutlass. Thanks! Testers want to see if the oil will be thin enough for the engine to turn over, and to flow once the engine is running. FAQs What do the letters on lubricant ... An oil with a low SAE W number will flow better, making cold starts easier and reducing engine wear. It is so to keep the function normal. All rights reserved. Most people have either changed the oil of their car themselves or they’ve taken their car to a quick lube shop, auto repair shop, or dealership and had professionals do it for them. In general, oil's viscosity actually decreases as it heats up. 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