How to choose?
There are so many engine oils out there, which one is right for your vehicle? Well, there are three basic types: mineral, part synthetic and full synthetic. Mineral oils are the least refined of the three, which means they cost less, but also provide less protection, performance and economy than the other options. Part synthetic engine oils are a blend of mineral oil and synthetic oil, to give added performance, but still at a lower cost than full synthetic engine oils. Full synthetics are the most expensive engine oils as they are highly refined, but offer the best and protection and economy to absolutely every vehicle
Viscosity is a measurement of the thickness and ‘ease of flow’ in any liquid. For example, water is a thin liquid that flows freely, so we say that it has a low viscosity. Honey, on the other hand, is relatively thick and flows more slowly. So, we describe honey as having a high viscosity. It’s also worth noting that honey flows more easily – and is therefore less viscous – when it is slightly warm. Engine oil behaves in pretty much the same way, which is why mechanics will usually run an engine for a minute or two before draining used engine oil away to replace it.
How to check engine oil level?
While some cars consume hardly any engine oil, others require regular top ups. That’s why it makes sense to check your oil level frequently between oil changes, as running with a low oil level increases stress on the engine and can seriously reduce the working life of the oil and the engine.
We recommend that people pop the bonnet and check their oil level at least every couple of weeks (or 1000 – 1500 kilometers), and always before a long trip. It only takes a minute to check and top up if necessary, and it might add years of reliable, powerful and economical driving to the life of your engine.
Some modern cars have an electronic oil sensor that warns you when your engine oil is approaching the minimum safe level. But whether your car has one or not, it’s good practice to check your engine oil level manually on a regular basis, especially if you’re planning a long journey. After all, sensors and dash lights can both fail without you knowing about it.
To check your engine oil level you will need the following:
- Clean cloth or paper towel
- Car parked on a level surface
- Disposable gloves (if required)
1. First make sure to park your car on level ground, then wait at least 10 minutes to let the oil drain back into the sump.
2. Raise and secure the bonnet, then locate the oil level dipstick, which is usually pretty easy to see and to reach.
3. Pull it out and use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe the end clean. Then replace it, making sure it goes all the way in, before immediately lifting it out and holding it in a horizontal position.
4. Near the end of the dipstick there should be two lines, sometimes with a cross-hatched area in between. Ideally, the oil level should be at or near the highest line, though anywhere above the lower line is still OK.
If the oil level is close to or below the minimum (lower) mark, you definitely need to top up your oil right away. If the level is mid way, then topping up your engine oil level is recommended to bring the oil level up to near the maximum (higher) mark to offer the best protection for your engine.
Importantly, even if you only need to add a little oil, you must make sure you add the correct viscosity and specification of oil, which you can identify using our quick and easy Oil Finder tool.
When topping up your oil, be careful not to over-fill your engine. Add small amounts at a time until you reach the correct level.