How to know the right engine oil for your car

There are many options for choosing the right oil for your car's engine.

When choosing engine oil, first you need to know what kind of oil you need. Mineral oil is obtained from the refining of petroleum. Synthetic oils are obtained by mixing seTheveral synthetic ingredients together. Semi-synthetic oils are mixtures of mineral and synthetic oils. It's the nature of the product that defines its viscosity (we often talk about 'quality'). Viscosity is an index that defines the ability of an oil to withstand hot and cold flow. Engine temperatures can reach 400°C, so this is an important consideration when choosing a product. The oil container says:

00w00.The number on the left is the low-temperature viscosity. The lower the number, the cooler and more efficient the product. The numbers on the right represent the hot oil performance. The higher the number, the more efficient the oil is at high temperatures.

Mineral oils

They are obtained by refining petroleum and are typically used in "traditional" engines, older models, or engines without turbochargers. They are thicker than synthetic or semi-synthetic oils and are recommended for riding in warmer climates (not for extreme temperatures). It has lower oxidation stability than other engine oils, so it needs to be changed more frequently than synthetic oils. Their main advantage is low cost.

Semi-synthetic oils

They are mixtures of mineral and synthetic oils. Adding synthetic oil to mineral oil improves performance and protection. Therefore, semi-synthetic oils are cost-effective. Their use does not affect the frequency of oil changes.

Synthetic oils

Synthetic oil is artificially created rather than derived from natural sources. It is designed to provide better performance and protection for engines and other mechanical parts than traditional mineral-based oils. They also tend to have a longer life than their mineral-based counterparts, which can help reduce the frequency of oil changes.

Synthetic oil also has the ability to provide better protection against wear and tear on engine components. Although Synthetic oil is more expensive than Mineral oil, it has a growing consumer base in Nigeria because it's required for the smooth operation of most new models, luxury, and high-performance vehicles.

Standards to know when choosing an engine oil

When choosing engine oil, you can also refer to the standards of the product. This information allows you to:

- know the type of engine the engine oil is designed for (diesel or petrol}

- know its performance level;

- know if the oil meets your automotive manufacturer’s recommendations

Three standards are used to describe engine oils. 

The ACEA standard

This is the standard of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (“Association des Constructeurs Européens Automobile” in French). It is a quality indicator that is determined by a letter and a number (e.g. A1). The letter indicates the type of engine:

  • A: oil designed for petrol engines;

  • B: oil designed for private car diesel engines;

  • C: for light engines equipped with catalytic converters or particulate filters;

  • E: for commercial vehicles and trucks.

The number indicates the specific performances the oil must provide.

The SAE standard

Determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, this standard describes the degree of oil viscosity. It is indicated on the front of the container: the 00w00 index.

The API standard

Established by the American Petroleum Institute, it classifies the product according to several criteria: dispersive power, and protection against wear, oxidation, corrosion, and detergents.  The standard consists of two letters: S for petrol engines, or C for diesel vehicles, see your vehicle owner’s handbook or get advice from a professional.