Does Your Vehicle Need Different Oil for Winter?

When winter comes in full swing, and you need to start your car in freezing temperatures, probabilities are there that you might face certain troubles. Depending upon the kind of oil that you pour into the car, chances of trouble might increase or decrease. Choosing a wrong oil type can inadvertently damage the engine of your vehicle with every cold start. That is why the automakers strictly recommend a different kind of motor oil for your car during the seasons of winter. If you are still in doubt, then here is an explanation we are presenting you that we got from the team of mechanics whom we met at the Coeur d’Alene oil change service center.

Understanding Oil Viscosity

Oil viscosity can be best described as how smooth and easily the oil flows when poured in at a given temperature. Measuring oil viscosity is usually done by lab technicians who calculate the resistance of the oil while making it flow through a thin glass tube. In such experiments the thicker kind of oils will take longer to flow down through the tube in comparison to the thinner oils. The more it will resist to flow, the higher will be its viscosity.

What Happens to the Motor Oil in Winter

When the oil is cold it will not flow as easily as when it is hot. In such stage, i.e., in cold temperature the oil might not be able to protect the engine at the time of cold starts. On the contrary, when the outside temperature is warmer, the motor oil will flow more easily. In other words, in high temperature the viscosity of the oil  lowers down, while lower temperature increases it.

How Is Oil Viscosity Measured?

An engine oil’s viscosity is measured at two temperatures: 100 and 210 degrees Fahrenheit. If you look at the labels of engine oils, you’ll see they’re marked with letters and numbers, such as 0W-20 and 5W-20. The 0W and 5W refer to viscosity measured at 100 degrees, while -20 refers to viscosity measured at 210 degrees. At engine operating temperature, both oils will exhibit the same resistance to flow. When cold, though, the 0W-20 will flow better than the 5W-20.

Why a Vehicle Might Need Different Oil for Winter

Since lower viscosity causes less resistance in oil flow, a low grade of xW oil will help your car engine to survive better in winter. If you really need this change in oil type will be usually written in the user’s manual of your car, where there will be a “recommended viscosity” chart to show you the details.

If your vehicle is recommended to be given a lighter oil in winter, it is also recommended that you perform the engine oil change immediately before the temperatures are expected to scale down the freezing point. This will ensure that your car engine gets good lubrication during cold starts and ensure stronger protection, concluded the team of mechanical experts of the CDA oil change service center.

Lisa Thompson: Lisa is a mechanic with over 20 years of experience. Her blog is filled with practical maintenance tips, DIY tutorials, and advice on keeping your vehicle in top condition.