Most every vehicle owner knows that the engine oil needs to be checked and changed periodically. After all, clean and sufficient engine oil is essential to lubricating the engine and preventing friction damage that can destroy the engine. However, what many drivers don't realize is that the weather can have a direct effect on your engine oil's condition and how well it works. If you're not familiar with how the weather contributes to your engine oil, this article will not only help you understand it but also give you advice for how to get the most from it.
How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Engine Oil?
While most engine oils can hold up to moderately and reasonably cold temperatures, severe cold weather can be problematic. This is particularly true for higher mileage engines because of the wear and tear that develops over time.
When the weather gets colder, your engine's oil gets thicker. It's just basic chemistry. As it warms up, it thins out. Unfortunately, that thick oil won't flow through the engine the way that it should when you start it. The colder the temperatures, the thicker the oil is likely to get, especially if it's older oil that has some contaminants in it.
A running engine that's facing any kind of delay getting the oil distributed is an engine that's going to suffer some degree of friction damage. Even brief periods of damage become serious concerns when repeated over time due to accumulated wear.
How Does Hot Weather Affect Your Engine Oil?
Just as engine oil thickens when it gets cold, it thins out when it gets warm. Most oils are designed to run at an optimal viscosity level at the standard operating temperature of your engine. That optimal viscosity level is what's needed for proper lubrication throughout the engine.
Exceedingly hot weather can take a toll on traditional oils. When the weather is that hot, the engine naturally runs hotter because the coolant can't fully combat the outside environment and the heat produced by the engine. That reduction in cooling will lead to progressively thinning oil. If the oil gets too thin, you won't get the same level of protection through your engine. This can lead to friction, which increases the heat in the engine even more. In addition, you will face damage from that friction such as shavings from the cylinders and seizing throughout the engine.
How Do You Prevent Weather Damage To Your Engine?
There are a few ways that you can minimize the risks of damage to your engine due to extreme temperatures.
First and foremost, you should change the engine oil right before the start of each severe weather season. Fresh oil will function better and hold up better to the environment. It eliminates any particles that may be in the oil since those particles can be more damaging when the oil isn't flowing at its best and helps the oil to more closely maintain its needed viscosity.
In addition, you can reduce your engine oil's susceptibility to temperature changes by skipping the conventional oil during your next oil change. Instead, opt for synthetic oil, such as buying Amsoil wholesale. Synthetic oil is designed to be more consistent in its viscosity even in the face of severe weather. Extreme temperatures won't change the consistency of the oil nearly as much as it would with a conventional oil product.
Finally, make sure that you're using the oil weight recommended by your engine manufacturer for the temperature. Most engines will run better on a lower weight oil in the winter and a higher weight oil in the summer. When you're choosing a combined weight oil, such as 10W-40, remember that 10W refers to the starting weight during cold temperatures while the 40 refers to the starting weight during warm temperatures. Choose the combination that best fits your engine, but opt for a synthetic if you want the most consistent results.