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Switch off the engine, put on your overalls and get under the hood: it’s motor oil change time! To keep your engine running like clockwork, that’s exactly what it needs – lubricating oil. Multigrade oils defy heat and cold and can be used all year round.

When choosing an engine oil for new car, we recommend using an engine oil that has the specification API SN/SP, ILSAC GF-5/GF-6.

The Best Synthetic Engine Oil 0W-20

Best choice

Idemitsu Full Synthetic Engine Oil 0W-20

Advanced fully synthetic engine oil, meets the specifications of API SP, ILSAC GF-6

  • 5,0 Rating
  • API: SP
  • ILSAC: GF-6
  • 5 Quart Container
  • Made in Japan

What kind of oil you need depends on your car. You can find out which type in your vehicle’s manual. Find out in our test and comparison table which oils are available, how expensive they are and what else you should look out for when buying.

  1. Engine oil is an important accessory of all cars. Therefore, almost as important as a tire change in the car or motorcycle is the regular change of lubricating oil. Because the oil helps to lubricate the machine of the passenger car and to cool important units. In addition, the oil provides optimal cleaning and effective protection against corrosion.
  2. Lubricants are divided into monograde oils and multigrade oils. Monograde oils are divided into winter and summer oils. For this reason, they must be changed at the same time as the season changes. Multigrade oils, on the other hand, are not so strongly temperature-dependent. They can be used all year round with confidence. For this reason, they are considered standard today.
  3. Not every car tolerates every oil. To find out whether the oil you have selected can be used, always consult the manufacturer’s operating instructions before filling.

With engine oil, everything runs like clockwork. At least in the engine of motor vehicles. Because that is where it is mainly used. And it is precisely there that it fulfills its actual purpose and brings great benefits to the vehicle owner and his vehicle.

mercedes oilAnd this is where our engine oil comparison comes into play. Because many car owners today bring their own oil to the workshop. Because for a 5q canister you pay in the trade usually the same money as for a liter in the workshop. So that you too can start the next oil change prepared, we have looked for the best engine oil for you in our engine oil comparison. In addition, you can learn everything about the engine oil differences, the correct engine oil designation, and also what a potential engine oil test winner must bring along.

What is engine oil?

The oils are namely used to lubricate internal combustion engines. One knows you of course particularly as accessories of cars, but also a lawn mower or a motorcycle needs from time to time an oil change. The oil is used as an accessory because, in an engine, where of course metal meets metal, there is always mechanical friction. Since this is of course not conducive to the machine, one uses engine oil, which often still additives, i.e. additives, were mixed.

What types of engine oil are there?

There are different categories of engine oils. We explain the two most important ones in the engine oil comparison. The engine oil differences result from their respective areas of application.

Engine oil typeInformation
Monograde oilMonograde oil was the standard until the 1970s. Today, it is mostly only used in motor sports or at extreme outside temperatures. This is because monograde oils are divided into winter and summer oils. So when the seasons changed, the engine oil also had to be changed at the same time, as is the case when changing from summer to winter tires (and vice versa).
Multigrade oilMultigrade oil retains its viscosity, i.e. its flow properties, even at higher temperatures. The lubricity therefore remains stable to a certain extent both with warmer or colder oil. Multigrade oil can therefore be used both in winter and in summer. It is important to know here, however, that the larger the covered viscosity range of the oil, the more the oil loses its viscosity when it remains in the machine for a longer period of time.

Oil change intervals:

In the past, you had to change the oil after approx. 1000 to 5000 ml. Today you have to change engine oil when you have driven about 10000 ml with the car. After approx. 12 months, however, an oil change is still usually mandatory today, regardless of whether you have already driven the required distance or not.

Buying advice: What to look for when you want to buy engine oil?

We are happy to provide you with important criteria in our engine oil comparison to help you find the best engine oil for your car. However, we do not want to neglect one important tip in advance. If your car is still under warranty, it is better to leave it with the engine oil of the vehicle manufacturer. So you are also in case of damage on the safe side what concerns the warranty. If your car is no longer under warranty, then simply use oil that the vehicle manufacturer, e.g. BMW or Chevrolet, has approved for the car in the operating instructions and that also meets all other important standards. Otherwise, we will tell you here about the most important properties of lubricating oils.

best bmw motor oilThe method of production

Lubricants can be produced in different ways. Mineral oils are produced by the distillation of petroleum. This type of lubricating oil for automobiles has been used the longest of all manufacturing methods and is available only in the form of monograde oils. Semi-synthetic oils are a mixture of mineral and synthetic oils. Where we are already with the synthetic oils. These have a very good engine oil quality due to the admixed additives, but therefore also have a higher price. But the advantages are numerous: good cold-start properties, good lubrication even at high temperatures and less engine wear.

The SAE viscosity

As already mentioned, engine oils are divided into summer and winter oils. In the past, engine oil had to be changed every season, similar to tires. Today, multi-grade oils are more commonly used.

Summer oils

If you read the engine oil designation SAE 16 or SAE 20, you can assume that it is a summer oil. The designations range from SAE 20 in increments of ten to SAE 60. The oils at the lower end of the scale tend to be thin-bodied, while SAE 60 tends to be thick-bodied. The viscosity of the oils is specified at 100°C. The individual numerical values, however, do not indicate the viscosity of the oil. However, individual numerical values do not provide any information about the quality of the substances.

Winter oils

Winter oils are indicated by imprints such as 0W or 5W. The scale here extends in increments of five up to 25W. The designations indicate the lowest temperature to which an oil can still be pumped. For 0W, this would be -40°C, for 5W -35°C.

Multigrade oils

The lowest and highest viscosity can always be read from the designation of the multigrade oils. The names are a combination of the specifications of the winter and summer oils, such as 5W-30. The smaller the number in front of the W, the more fluid the oil is, even at low temperatures.

Tip: A note on the point of SAE class: The class is always based on the vehicle manufacturer. It indicates which class, which car, e.g. a BMW needs. So pay attention to this information. So you ensure that the correct oil pressure in the machine can arise.

Smooth running properties

Many engine oils have properties that make the engine run particularly smoothly. This is said to lead to fuel savings in the long term. This addition is found exclusively in synthetic and semi-synthetic lubricants. However, only use these oils if they have been approved by your vehicle manufacturer. Oils with the designation 0W-20, 0W-30, 0W-40 or 5W-30 have smooth-running properties for saving fuel.

Longlife properties

First, long-life oils always have the properties of fuel-efficient oils. You can use this additional property if you have a car with a longlife service. Here, a control unit in the car calculates the next inspection date and oil change. However, this only works with the manufacturer’s oil. If you use a different oil, you have to reprogram your car for a fixed inspection.

Best motor oil brand:

Castrol, Idemitsu, Liqui Moly, Shell, Valvoline, Mobil, Pennzoil.

Questions and answers about engine oil

How to dispose of engine oil?

Disposing of engine oil does not have to be that complicated. However, it often seems to private persons that the disposal is connected with many obstacles. Sellers are obliged by law to take back used oil. But even municipal collection points often take back used oil. Garages and service stations are also often accommodating.

What does the w stand for in engine oil?

The W, which is often part of the number combination of the engine oil designation, indicates that it is a winter oil. In other words, an oil that can be used in winter.

Can engine oil go bad?

A bottle of lubricating oil that has not yet been opened has a very long shelf life. Engine oil shelf life is usually three to five years. Be careful, however. The technical progress in the construction of engines brings with it the compulsion to always use up-to-date oil compositions. Opened oil has a shelf life of about half a year.

When should engine oil be topped up?

It is best to check your oil level after every third refueling stop. Is the oil indicator light flashing? Then it’s usually already too late. It’s good to have a spare canister in the trunk.

How do you get engine oil out of clothing?

Do you want to remove engine oil from jeans fabric? Or from another piece of clothing.

Is it possible to mix engine oil?

In general, it is not recommended to mix engine oils for different types of engines. What does not work at all is mixing engine oils for 4-stroke and 2-stroke engines. Oils for the same type of engine, e.g. a motorcycle, can of course be mixed without any problems.


And for those who don’t like to read, this video once again provides all the important information at a glance:

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

Hey, I’m David. I’ve worked in a cars store for 6 years. I write reviews and guides, helping people to choose the most suitable technicals and best product for them. I’m happy to finally share my knowledge of the industry here, on CarnesMechanical.

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