Automotive Features Explained

Everything You Need to Know About Motor Oil



A dark, murky substance that keeps your engine running.

Simple enough, right?


Oil is a complex substance that plays a huge role in your engine’s health. Failing to recognize when it’s not working properly can have disastrous results.

It can cost you thousands of dollars in engine repairs or ruin your engine completely.

So sit back, relax and allow us to take you on a little “Meet-n-Greet” if you will, with your engines number one ally: Oil.

We’ll Answer the Following Questions:

  • What is oil?
  • What are oil grades and what do they mean?
  • How often should you get your oil changed?
  • What are some warning signs that your oil’s not working properly?
  • Your oil light keeps coming on, but your oil is full. Now what?
  • What’s the #1 common myth about oil?

What is Oil?

Oil /oil/ noun: a viscous liquid derived from petroleum, especially for use as a fuel or lubricant.

Or in normal people talk… It’s a lubricant used in your engine to reduce wear on moving parts, inhibit corrosion and improve sealing. Essentially, it’s the lifeblood of your vehicle.

There are thousands of tiny explosions going off every second inside your engine. That makes for one hot environment. Oil’s job is to pull all that heat away from the combustion chamber. That way your engine won’t explode!

In the process of doing this, oil collects heat and carbons, and it starts to get sludge-like. It will continue to degrade over time and that’s why you need to get your oil changed. It’s used up all its additives and is no longer doing its job properly!

What Are Oil Grades and What Do They Mean?

Oil grades are determined by something called viscosity.

Simply put, viscosity means how fast a particular oil’s speed of flow through a device called a viscometer. The thicker the oil – or higher the viscosity – the slower it flows.

For example, in a 5w-30 bottle of oil, the 5w part (W = winter, not weight) means that the oil must have a certain maximum flow at a low temperature. The lower that W value is, the better the oil’s cold temperature performance is.

How Often Should You Get Regular Oil Changes?

Every 5,000 kilometers, right? Wrong.

Like we said earlier, your oil basically has three jobs:

  • Clean the engine
  • Cool the engine
  • Keep the engine lubricated 

Over the years, both fuel and oil have improved significantly. When talking about gas, automobile regulations have forced refineries to produce better, more high-quality products. Nowadays, it’s made from a much higher-quality base stock. It also contains additives that are specifically designed with the three roles we just mentioned in mind.

When talking about modern-day oil, it also lasts significantly longer than it did in the past.

Simply put, 5,000 km is an outdated answer. However, if you drive an older car that has a significant amount of km’s on it, it’s probably best to get oil changes more often than not, as a safety net. With newer vehicles you have a little more flexibility because of the reasons we listed above.

We recommend you change your oil around 6,000 and 8,000 km.

Most new models actually have engine sensors that can calculate the interval of time needed between oil changes. They make these calculations based on road conditions and driving patterns.

Need to book an oil change? Live in Alberta? Western Canada? We probably have a location near you. Click here. 

What Are Some Warning Signs That Your Oil’s NOT Working Properly?

There are 3 telltale signs that either your oil filter is plugged or your oil isn’t working properly.

  1. Performance Suffers

Simply put, your car won’t accelerate like it’s supposed to. Driving around like this for a long time can cause serious harm to your engine. If your foot’s pedal-to-the-metal and it’s taking longer than normal to pick up speed, this could be an oil-related issue.

  1. Low Pressure

Look on your dash. You see that oil pressure gauge? Check it out. If while you’re driving, the needle drops quickly, there’s most likely a problem with your oil. If the pressure remains low, you will notice problems in your engine (like the performance issues we mentioned above or metallic scraping).

  1. Metallic Scraping

This is due to a lack of oil in your engine. Remember when we told you that one of oil’s number one jobs is lubricating your engine? Well, when there’s not enough of it to do just that, metal touches metal and makes a scraping noise. If you ever hear this noise, pull over immediately. You need oil!

Are you currently experiencing any of these issues? Talk to one of our certified technicians. They can offer useful advice and suggestions moving forward. 

Your Oil Light Keeps Coming On, But Your Oil is full. Now What?

Your oil light is a pressure light, not a level light. Low oil levels can trigger it, but often times it has to do with your oil’s pressure level. When this light comes on, it’s indicating that your oil pump isn’t getting enough oil, so your pump is sucking air. That means your engine can’t do its job properly.

You can check your oil pressure level on your own if you want. You just need a pressure gauge. You can order one here.

It could also be a sensor issue or a loose wire.

Best thing to do? Take it into one of our dealerships and we’ll fix the problem for you. If it’s a small problem (like the sensor) it’s a relatively easy and inexpensive fix. In general, waiting for the oil light to come on to indicate you need oil isn’t a great idea anyways.

What’s the #1 Common Myth about Oil?

Your engine will run better if you use an oil that has “extra supplemental additives.”


Adding extra additives to your oil is a waste of time and here’s why:

Any reputable motor oil that’s produced will already have the correct amount of additives in it that will help ensure your engine runs at its best. The additives will have already been formulated perfectly for your oil’s chemistry. Any additional additives might dilute the effectiveness of your oil and have the opposite effect.

What’s the Take-Away?

Take care of your oil system and your oil system will take care of you. It’s not just some dark, gooey liquid you pour into your vehicle.

You wouldn’t stop drinking water completely would you? Well, oil is your vehicle’s water. It’s CRITICAL.




Have any questions? Thoughts?

Leave them in the comments section below!