The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) grade number indicates the viscosity of the engine oil and thus its ability to lubricate at a given temperature. The lower the SAE grade number, the lighter the oil, the lower the viscosity, and the easier it should be to crank the engine in cold weather. Oil viscosities should be chosen from those oils recommended for the lowest anticipated temperatures during the oil change interval. With the proper viscosity, you will be assured of easy cold starting and sufficient engine protection.
Multi-viscosity oils (5W-30, 10W-30, etc.) offer the important advantage of being adaptable to temperature extremes. They allow easy starting at low temperatures, yet they give good protection at high speeds and engine temperatures. This is a decided advantage in changeable climates or in long distance driving.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) designation indicates the classification of engine oil used under certain given operating conditions. Only oil designated for Service SJ, or the latest superseding oil grade should be used. Oils of the SJ type perform a variety of functions inside the engine in addition to their basic function as a lubricant. Through a balanced system of metallic detergents and polymeric dispersants, the oil prevents the formation of high and low temperature deposits and also keeps sludge and particles in suspension. Acids, particularly sulfuric acid, one of several by-product of the combustion process, are neutralized by the additive package in the oil. Both the SAE grade number and the API designation can be found on the side of the oil bottle.
Oil & Filter Change
- Raise and safely support the vehicle using safety stands.
- Position a drain pan of at least 5 quarts capacity under the oil pan. Wipe road dirt and debris from around the oil drain plug with a cloth.
- Loosen the drain plug using a ratchet, short extension and socket or a box-end wrench. Turn the plug out by hand, using a cloth to shield your fingers if the engine oil is hot. Keep inward pressure on the plug as you unscrew it, so oil won't escape past the threads and you can remove it without being burned by hot oil.
- Quickly withdraw the drain plug and move your hands out of the way. Do not drop the drain plug. Allow the engine oil to drain completely. Clean the drain plug thoroughly, and inspect the gasket. If it is damaged, it should be replaced. Reinstall the cleaned drain plug. Do not overtighten the plug.
- Move the drain pan under the oil filter. Use a strap-type or cap-type wrench to loosen the oil filter. Remove the oil filter by rotating it counterclockwise. It contains nearly a quart of dirty oil and should be allowed to drain into the pan.
- Using a clean, lint-free cloth, wipe off the oil filter mounting surface where the rubber O-ring will seat.
- Lightly oil the replacement oil filter O-ring with clean engine oil. This is important since the oil will react with the rubber and cause the seal to slightly swell after installation. This means the filter will seal well without having to over-tighten the filter, causing removal difficulties next oil change. Install the oil filter by rotating it clockwise. After the oil filter O-ring contacts the oil filter mounting surface, continue to tighten 3 / 4 to 1 full turn. If necessary, use a cap-type wrench or strap-type wrench with a swivel handle to insure proper installation. DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN.
- If raised, carefully lower the vehicle.
- Refill the engine with the correct amount of fresh engine oil. In nearly all cases, this will be five quarts of oil. Check the Capacities Chart in this section for the specifications for your vehicle.
- Check the level on the dipstick to verify the correct amount of oil has been added. It is normal for the level to be above the FULL mark until the engine has been run and oil has filled the filter. With the engine oil at the proper level, run the engine for about three minutes and thoroughly check the oil filter, oil pan, drain plug and surrounding areas for leaks.
- Used engine oil should be properly recycled. Do not dump drain oil.
Oil Level Check
The engine oil level indicator (dipstick) is located at the front center of the engine compartment. The oil level indicator handle generally has a yellow loop design or a T-handle, for easy identification.
- At each fuel fill, turn the engine OFF and give the oil a few minutes to drain back into the oil pan.
- Pull the dipstick out of the dipstick tube, clean it with a paper towel or cloth to remove splash oil, then fully reinsert the dipstick all the way.
- Remove the dipstick again, keeping the tip down, and check the level. The dipstick should either have a crosshatched area, or marks indicating the maximum (FULL) and minimum (ADD) oil levels. Approximately one quart of oil will raise the oil level from the ADD mark to the FULL mark. Do not overfill.
There are excellent synthetic and fuel-efficient oils available that, under the right circumstances, can help provide better fuel mileage and better engine protection. However, these advantages come at a price, which can be significantly more than the price per quart of conventional motor oils.
Before pouring any synthetic oils into your vehicle's engine, you should consider the condition of the engine and the type of driving you do.
Generally, it is best to avoid the use of synthetic oil in both brand new and older, high mileage engines. New engine require a proper break-in, and some sources feel that the synthetics are so slippery, that they can impede the normal wear engines need for break in. Some manufacturers recommend that you accumulate at least 5,000 miles (8,000 km) before switching to a synthetic oil. Conversely, older engines are looser and tend to lose more oil; synthetics will slip past worn parts more readily than regular oil. If you engine already leaks oils (due to worn parts or bad seals/gaskets), it may leak more with a synthetic oil.