Types of OIl - How To Pick The Right Engine Oil | Germantown, Maryland | Precision Auto

Different Motor Oil Types Explained

What? There’s more than one kind? . . . I thought oil was oil!

Just when you thought you had it all under control--you remembered to change the oil in BOTH cars--you realize that there's more than one kind of oil, and you don't have a clue what you should use. No worries! Precision Auto in Germantown, Maryland, can help you with all your routine service needs, including what type of motor oil your vehicle requires. Take a deep breath. This isn’t as hard as you think.

Oil 101: A Primer

There are four major categories of motor oil--conventional, full synthetic, synthetic blend, and high mileage. All vary in the chemical components and viscosity. Viscosity is a measure of how easily oil pours at room temperature. Lower viscosity oils pour with ease at a given temperature, while higher viscosity oils are more difficult to pour at the same heat level. High viscosity oils tend to be better at coating moving parts with the much-needed film of oil when the engine temperatures are hot than are low viscosity oils. Let’s take a look at each one:


As the name suggests, conventional oil is what one might consider "regular" lubricant. It is extracted from the ground in liquid form and is the most commonly used motor oil. Conventional oil works well in most newer cars, particularly those with low mileage and average engines.

Full Synthetic

In contrast, full synthetic oil is made of chemical compounds that can originate from highly refined petroleum products or be completely man-made, manufactured from other components. Full synthetic motor oil has a higher viscosity level. Furthermore, full synthetic oil is better at resisting thermal breakdown and sludge build-up, increasing the efficiency of your car's operation and performance. Drivers who live in areas that experience extreme heat or cold, those whose cars have older engines, and people who use their vehicles for towing and hauling may benefit from purchasing synthetic oil. However, the downside is synthetic oil is much more expensive than its conventional counterpart.

Synthetic Blend

A compromise solution might be synthetic blend motor oil. This lubricant is a mixture of conventional and synthetic oils with a few additives. Therefore, it offers the benefits of synthetic oil, yet it is substantially less expensive than full synthetic. Many drivers like it because it is an affordable way to use a high quality oil in their vehicles.

High Mileage

Finally, high mileage oil contains additives to help protect your seals. This minimizes oil leaks that are common in older cars.

Speaking in Code

When you face the shelves of motor oil in the auto parts aisle, you may feel as if the labels are written in code. What do all those letters and numbers stand for? Well, here it is, made easy. SAE refers to the Society of Automotive Engineers. This group uses a system to describe the viscosity of engine oil as defined previously. For example, SAE 5W-20. First, the "W" stands for winter. Second, as you might guess, the numbers describe the viscosity of the oil at cold temperatures.

Precision Auto is Here to Help

Your car's manufacturer will provide guidance regarding the type of oil you need in the owner's manual. However, your easiest choice won't be what kind of oil to choose. Instead, the best decision is to leave the details to the certified team of technicians at Precision Auto in Germantown, Maryland. We will ensure your vehicle receives the right type of motor oil to allow you to operate it worry-free. Give us a call today or stop by to receive your oil change service.

Written by Precision Auto