Motor oil is usually selected according to the following basic criteria: car manufacturer’s tolerance (VW, MB, BMW, GM, Ford, Renault, Chrysler), specifications (API, ACEA, ILSAC) and viscosity according to SAE (the most popular 0w-20, 5w-20, 10w-30, 5w-40), chemical composition: synthetic, semi-synthetic, mineral.
If you would like to learn how to select the proper engine oil, read our other article. In this article, we tell you how to pick the proper oil for American, Japanese, and European cars.
- Selection of engine oil for cars
- How to choose oil for your car?
- Motor Oil for Japanese cars
- Motor Oil for German cars
- Motor Oil for Korean cars
- Motor Oil for French cars
- Motor Oil for European cars
- Motor Oil for American cars
- Best oils for cars by viscosity
- Motor oil specifications
- Standards oil for automobiles
- Viscosity of Engine Oil
How to choose engine oil for car
Selection of engine oil for cars
Motor oils provide lubrication of all moving engine parts, covering them with a protective film, protects engine parts from dirt, harmful deposits, and corrosion. We have created this guide to help you select the oil for your car.
The Best Engine Oil For New Cars:
How to choose oil for your car?
- Choose oil according to the manufacturer’s recommendations (should be listed in your vehicle’s service book).
- Use oil that is already used in the engine of your car (data must be entered in the service book).
- Choose oil according to engine oil producers’ recommendations and tolerances, we have collected this information in this review.
Motor Oil for Japanese cars
When choosing oil for Japanese cars, it is recommended to use oil based on ILSAC GF-5 and ILSAC GF-6 tolerances. For older models, ILSAC GF-4 oils can be used. We recommend to use oil with viscosity 0w-16, 0w-20, 5w-20 for new Japanese cars Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Lexus, Acura, Subaru, Suzuki, Nissan. For older models, we recommend using oil with viscosity 5w-30, rarely oil with viscosity 5w-40. Oil with viscosity 10w-40 is used only for Japanese cars with high mileage.
Motor Oil for German cars
Selecting oil for German cars we recommend using oil based on VAG tolerances for VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Long-life tolerances for BMW, MB tolerances for Mercedes-Benz, GM tolerances for Opel. We recommend to use oil with viscosity 0w-30, 0w-40 for new cars, for older models we recommend to use oil with viscosity 5w-30, rarely oil with viscosity 5w-40. Oil with viscosity 10w-40 is used only for German cars with high mileage.
Motor Oil for Korean cars
When choosing oil for Korean cars, it is recommended to use oil based on ILSAC GF-5 and ILSAC GF-6 tolerances. For older models, ILSAC GF-4 oils can be used. We recommend using oil with viscosity 0w-16, 0w-20, 5w-20 for new Korean cars, for older models we recommend to use oil with viscosity 5w-30, rarely oil with viscosity 5w-40. Oil with the viscosity of 10w-40 is used only for Korean cars with high mileage.
Motor Oil for French cars
When choosing oil for French cars it is recommended to use oil based on RN tolerances for Renault cars, PSA tolerances for Peugeot, and Citroen cars. We recommend using oil with viscosity 5w-30, for new French cars, for older models we recommend using oil with viscosity 5w-40. Oil with viscosity 10w-40 is used only for French cars with high mileage.
Motor Oil for European cars
Selecting oil for European cars it is recommended to use oil based on Ford tolerances for Ford, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Fiat tolerances for Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Abarth, RN tolerances for Dacia cars, VCC tolerances for Volvo cars. We recommend using oil with viscosity 0w-30, for new European cars, for older models we recommend to use oil with viscosity 5w-30, less often oil with viscosity 5w-40. Oil viscosity 10w-40 is used only for European cars with high mileage.
Motor Oil for American cars
Selecting oil for American cars is recommended to use oil based on MS tolerances for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ford tolerances for Ford, Jaguar and Land Rover, GM tolerances for Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Ravon, Holden, Opel, and Vauxhall. We recommend to use oil with viscosity 0w-30 and 0w-30, for new American cars, for older models we recommend to use oil with viscosity 5w-30, less often oil with viscosity 5w-40. Oil with the viscosity of 10w-30, 10w-40, and 15w-40 is used only for American cars with high mileage.
How to find the engine oil for the vehicle:
To find the appropriate engine oil for your car, you need to refer to your car’s handbook to determine the appropriate engine oil specs. Follow the viscosity, specs, and tolerances of the car manufacturers.
For each engine oil in this article, we have indicated the specifications and tolerances of the car manufacturers, making it very easy to find oil for your car.
If for some reason you do not have information about tolerances or specifications, select Oil by car make and model from the menu. We have selected the top motor oils for all common types of cars to help you.
But what kind of oil should we use?
- Synthetic mixture
Synthetic engine oil
Synthetic engine oil offers superior protection and productivity among the three types. It is free of the impurities typical of conventional oils, which means it offers improved stability against extreme temperatures, increased anti-wear resistance, and greater flow at lower temperatures. This means a cleaner and longer-lasting engine.
Synthetic engine oil has the lowest flowability, which reduces oil consumption and keeps the engine clean. Conventional oils are significantly inferior to their synthetic counterparts. You can also see the difference in the productivity of synthetic oils, which means they are not all the same.
A blend of synthetic oils or semi-synthetic oils is simply a mixture of synthetic and conventional oils. It is designed to provide improved protection compared to conventional oils without the higher initial price of synthetic engine oil.
However, the drawback is that you cannot tell how much “synthetic” is contained in your synthetic blend-based motor oil as there are no industry regulations requiring oil companies to publish this information.
Conventional motor oil
At last, we have conventional oil. In contrast to synthetic oils, which are made using a chemical reaction process, conventional oils are purified from raw crude oil. The purification procedure eliminates some of the contaminants present in the crude oil, but it’s almost impossible to eliminate all of them. Therefore, conventional oils contain molecules that are harmful to motor lubrication, like sulfur and paraffin.
Conventional oil is more likely to form harmful deposits upon warming and gets thicker in the cold. This complicates engine startup and accelerates chemical breakdown, which demands more frequent changes.
When selecting oil for your car, you can choose from synthetic blends and conventional oils of the proper viscosity to match the performance specifications suggested in the owner’s handbook. Although they might all be harmless for use in your vehicle, they do not offer nearly the same level of safety or efficiency.
Motor oil specifications
This leads us to industrial characteristics and features. While this is disconcerting, motor oil specs can help you select the correct oil for your vehicle.
Motor oils available in Australia are classified by oil grading systems, including those of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the American Petroleum Institute (API).
The API provides specifications for engine oils that are best known to automobilists. The present edition is API SP. Once every few years, the API refreshes its specs to guarantee that the motor oils it provides are created to protect the newest and most exacting motors.
You should always pick an oil of the kind that shows the star symbol, indicating that the oil has been approved by the American Petroleum Institute (API).
You can also see the two-character service symbol on the canister. The most recent API service standards are SP for petrol engines and CK-4 for diesel engines. The letters are derived from a group of laboratory and motor tests that define the capability of the oil to provide wear protection for the motor and to protect against high-temperature deposits and sludge. The API provides a full list of these standards available here if you are curious, but ensure you purchase an oil that has been verified in compliance with the applicable standard. At the time of writing, this covers SP, SN, SN+, SM, SL, and SJ for gasoline engines and CK-4, CJ-4, CI-4, CH-4, and FA-4 for diesel engines.
How to choose motor oil viscosity
Engine oil viscosity grade is defined by the SAE international standard. For every engine class, it is essential to apply oil with the best viscosity for it. The suggested oil viscosity is determined by engine age and construction, engine running mode, and environmental conditions.
The working temperature of the engine oil remains constant at different environmental conditions, thus the suggested viscosity is well suited to the various application requirements. The principal distinction is the viscosity class “W”, which relates to the starting temperature, as the viscosity of the lubricant, its flowability, and its readiness to lubricate the motor are determined by it.
Viscosity grade “5W” demands that the lubricant operates smoothly at lower temperatures than e.g. viscosity grade “15W”, thus the lubricant is supposed to perform at lower starting temperatures. During hot weather, most OEMs continue to favor all-purpose products like SAE 15W-40 as the lubricant will run more quickly through the motor than clean SAE 40 even at higher environmental temperatures.
The first number in oil marking indicates oil flowability at low temperatures (before the letter “W”). The lower this number, the more liquid the oil is, and the better it will flow at low start-up conditions.
The second number in the oil marking indicates the oil flowability under high temperatures (after the letter “W”). Such oil is thicker and more suitable for motor protection at high temperatures.
The typical engine design is calculated for medium and low viscosity oils. For the new motors, it is advisable to apply more liquid oils with a viscosity of 0W-20, 0W-30, and 0W-40. With increasing motor age, it is essential to raise the oil viscosity. The most common types of oils are 5W-30 and 5W-40. For worn-out motors, 10W-40 and 15W-40 oils are applied, according to weather conditions and operating requirements.
Most engine oils for petrol engines are classified in viscosity grade 5W-30, 5W-20, and 0W-20, whereas diesel engines are typically in viscosity grade 15W-40 and 5W-40 and 10W-30. The numbers indicate how stable the engine oil is to thickening at cold temperatures and to dilute at high temperatures.
The most stable oils to cold temperatures are those with a viscosity of 0W, they freeze at -40 degrees, but you should keep in mind that they are also the most fluid and do not fit all motors. Motor oils with a viscosity of 0W-20 and 5W-20 are most commonly used in American and Asian cars. Also note that besides lubrication, the oil also cools the engine! The most resistant oil to a hot climate is viscosity 50, it perfectly dissipates excess heat and heats up more slowly. Oils with the viscosity of 5W-50 and 10W-60 are often used in sports cars and in hot climate conditions.
- Low viscosity oils: 0W-20, 0W-30, 5W-20, 5W-30 are optimal for new engines with minimum friction pair clearances.
- Medium viscosity oils: SAE 0W-40, 5W-40, 10W-40 are used for classic engines, depending on temperature conditions of use.
- High viscosity oils: 5W-50, 10W-50, 10W-60, 15W-50 are recommended for heavy-duty engines.
The most universal oils for use in both cold and hot conditions are 0W-40 and 0W-30. Most often such oils are used for German cars.
For cars with high engine wear use thicker oils such as 5W-40, 10W-40, and 10W-30.
Motor oil standards for automobiles
- American API standards provide for two groups of cars: S – gasoline engines, C – diesel engines (API): SA, SB, SC, SD, SE, SF, SG, SH, SJ, SL, SM, SN, SN Plus, SP, SA, CB, SS, CD, CD, CE, CF, CF-4, CF-2, CG-4, CH-4, CI-4, CI-4 Plus, CJ-4).
- The European ACEA standard uses four groups: A – gasoline engines, B – diesel engines, C – engines with catalytic converters, E – heavy diesel engines. ACEA: A1, A2, A3, A5, B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, C1, C2, C3, E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, E6, E7.
- Asian standard ILSAC: GF-1, GF-2, GF-3, GF-4, GF-5, GF-6, GF-6B define the quality standards of oil for gasoline engines of passenger cars.
All our reviews are based only on expert assessments or practical experience with most of the oils we consider. We aim to ensure that our guidance is independent.
Viscosity of Engine Oil:
The best motor oil for new car
For new cars that are used in hot climates, with mileage less than 75,000 miles of mileage, we recommend using 0w-20 engine oil, API SN, SP, ILSAC GF-5, GF-6.
Best motor oil 0w-20
Liqui Moly Special Tec AA 0W-20
The best engine oil for new car
For new cars that are used in cold climate, with mileage less than 75,000 miles of mileage, we recommend using 0w-30 engine oil, API SN, SP, ILSAC GF-5, GF-6.
Best motor oil 0w-30
The best universal engine oil
For new cars that are used in cold climate, with mileage less than 100,000 miles of mileage, we recommend using 0w-30 engine oil, API SN, SP, ILSAC GF-5, GF-6.
Best motor oil 0w-40
Motul 8100 X-Max Synthetic Engine Oil 0W-40
The best engine oil for most vehicles
For new cars that are used in hot climate, with mileage more than 75,000 miles of mileage, we recommend using 5w-20 engine oil, API SN, SP, ILSAC GF-5, GF-6.
The best motor oil 5w-20
The best low mileage engine oil
For cars with less than 100,000 miles mileage, we recommend using a 5w-30 engine oil, API specification SM, SN, SP, ILSAC GF-5, GF-6.
The best motor oil 5w-30
Amsoil Signature Series 5W-30
The best high mileage engine oil
For new cars with mileage more than 100, 000 miles of mileage, we recommend to use engine oil viscosity 5w-40, API SM, SN specification.
The best motor oil 5w-40
Liqui Moly Molygen 5W-40
Motul 8100 X-cess 5W-40
Valvoline European Vehicle 5W-40
The best motor oil 10w-30
The best motor oil for diesel engines (DPF)
Delo 400 XLE SAE 15W-40
Liqui Moly Top Tec 4100 5W-40
The best engine oil for SUVs
The best engine oil for trucks
Shell Rotella T6 Full Synthetic 5W-40
Mobil Delvac 1 ESP 5W-40
Valvoline Premium Blue Extreme SAE 5W-40
Royal Purple Duralec Super 15W-40
The best motor oil on the market:
Oilap information magazine
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