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Oil Change Service – Terminology for Automotive Noobs

Auto repair terminology can be a little intimidating, and for many folks, not knowing what all that jargon means can make buying auto repair service uncomfortable. But we totally get it, and we understand that not everyone grew up tinkering on cars with an older brother or car-enthusiast relative.

The upside, is, learning some of the basic terminology that you use most frequently around routine maintenance is a snap. We’ve decided to start a series of basics so you can understand better what you are buying and why.

Oil – Cars, Trucks, SUV, Motorhome and RV

Oil is a fluid that lubricates and prevents friction inside your vehicle’s engine. Different engines take different types of oils, based on different parameters, like thickness of the oil, temperature ranges it can tolerate, and a few other variables, which we will cover below.

Weight or Viscosity of Oil

Two terms often used interchangeably (although they aren’t technically the same) in regard to oil are “weight” or “viscosity.” They are described by numbers that usually look like something like the following: 10W-40 or 20W-50. Basically, these numbers reveal how the oil will behave at certain temperatures. Oil gets thinner as it gets hotter, and it gets thicker as it gets colder.

The first half of those numbers in our examples (10W or 20W) are the cold or winter numbers (hence the W). The higher the number, the thicker the oil will be in winter. So as temperatures drop, 20W-50 oil will thicken up more than the 10W-40 oil does because 20 is higher than 10. It might not be by a lot, but vehicle manufacturers know what the tolerances are for oil thickness in their engines, so they use the oil that suits their engine designs. (Thicker oil can also be a little better for older engines that have a lot of mileage and wear-and-tear.)

The second half of the viscosity is the heat side, and how thin the oil will get as it heats up. Again, higher numbers are thicker, so at operating temperature, 20W-50 will be thicker than 10W-40. Manufacturers know how hot their engines are designed to run, and they take those things into consideration when determining what oil to use in their engines.

Lube – Cars, Trucks, SUV, Motorhome and RV

You have likely heard the phrase “oil, lube, & filter” used to describe the service you get for your cars, trucks, SUVs, or motorhomes and RVs. But have you ever wondered what the “lube” part of that actually is? You likely realize that oil lubricates your engine … but if oil lubricates the engine, what’s the difference between “oil” and “lube”?

And that’s a fair question. “Lube” in automotive parlance basically means “grease.” A heavier petroleum product. It’s really thick, more like jelly or peanut butter, whereas oil is liquid that you can pour like water or syrup.

Lube is squeezed into tight places through what are called “zerk fittings” or “grease fittings,” injected where metal rubs on metal through the motion of moving parts. A good example is in the steering system of many vehicles, where different parts come together and move one another as you steer. Even the hinges of a car door can be an example of where grease might need to go.

Cars, trucks, motorhomes, RVs, SUVs all have zerk fittings, and they are made so that a grease gun can be attached and “lube” injected into those friction points. Doing this regularly prevents those parts from wearing out too soon and causing you to have to replace them well before their time—or worse, having a part fail on you while you are on the road.

The “lube” part of an oil, lube, & filter service should not be underestimated. But you can be sure that with your Oil Revo service, we’ll get them all for you, even the ones tucked up in the tricky spots! That’s what you pay us for.

Oil Filter – Cars, Trucks, SUV, Motorhome and RV

The oil we talked about above flows throughout your car, truck, or SUV’s engine. It gets hot. Particulate matter can be introduced through chemical reactions in the engine as fuel is burned, exhaust expelled, and wear happens over the years and miles.

Your vehicle has a pump (“oil pump” is the uncreative name for it) that pushes the oil through the system. As that oil circulates, it runs through the oil filter, which catches any of that debris or particulate matter, so those contaminates don’t keep getting circulated through the engine, clogging things up and causing general problems that would ultimately lead to engine trouble down the road. The oil filter is a must-have part for your vehicle, and making sure it is changed regularly goes a long, long way toward making your engine last for years and years and years.

Conventional Oil or Synthetic Oil?

Photo by Anna Shvets on

So what is the difference between these two oils, and how do you know what your car needs? The short answer is that “conventional” oil is crude oil pumped out of the ground, treated and processed at oil refineries, and turned into the final product that you can pour into an engine and keep it running well.

Synthetic Oil serves the same purpose, but it’s not crude oil out of the ground in the way conventional oil is. Synthetic Oil is created by chemists using various chemicals or petroleum products to create a lubricant that can be poured into an engine to lubricate it.

Synthetic oil tends to last longer and be able to put up with more heat and friction for a greater period of time. It also tends to be more expensive. The reason is because it does have to be made from many different products, formulated carefully, and it is, basically high-tech oil.

So which do you need? Which is better? The short answer is you need whichever one the manufacturer of your car designed your engine to have in it. Most newer cars these days will take a synthetic or synthetic blend. So, just to throw in some confusion, there are SOME vehicles, that can use a synthetic blend, meaning a mix of both (blended properly).

Those details can be found in your vehicle owner’s manual. Or you can just ask us, because that is what we do. We know these things for you

Hopefully knowing these terms will help you have a little better understanding of what is happening when you have your next oil, lube, and filter service. Hopefully you will let us bring that service to you at your home of place of work. We’ll make it easy, and we’ll do it in a way that is great for the environment. Give us a call today.

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