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Oil is one of the most important things in your entire car. It makes sure that everything in the engine stays lubricated and cool. It carries harmful contaminants to the oil filter and makes the engine more efficient.

There’s a bunch of things that affect what oil your car’s engine needs to function. As a result, there’s a lot of oils out there. To make matters worse, when you go and look at the different kinds of oil there’s a bunch of jargon that complicates it further. What is a SAE 10w-40 Oil? We’ll tell you, don’t worry.

What Oil Do I Use?

In your glove box or boot of your vehicle, there should be an owner’s manual for your car. Most car manufacturers also publish oil requirements online. They will tell you, how much oil, what kind of oil and how often to change your oil. When getting your car serviced, the right type and right amount of oil will be put into the engine.

If you notice you need to keep topping up your oil, then it might be time for a comprehensive service to get that sorted out.

What Do All Those Letters and Numbers on Oil Cans Mean?

Most manufacturers typically fall within the SAE 5w-30 to SAE 10w-40 range. What this means in simple terms is:

  • Society of Automotive Engineers (who made the viscosity scale)
  • Viscosity (how runny it is) during winter conditions, hence the ‘W’
  • Viscosity at operating temperature.

So if you’re told to use 5w-40 then it’s rated at a 5 in the cold and at a 40 at operating temperatures. It is rated at these weights by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Pretty neat eh, now you can impress your friends if you ever find a reason to talk about motor oil at a baby shower or something.

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Our “How To” series is designed to teach you a little more about your car in a little under 5 minutes.