If you’ve ever wondered what the freezing point of motor oil is, you came to the right place. We are going to walk you through some essential facts you should know about motor oil. Find out how it behaves when the temperatures drop below zero and a few aspects you should consider when buying motor oil during the cold months.
Do cold temperatures affect motor oil?
Inside the engine, motor oil should be able to maintain its liquid form. Once this liquid gets close to freezing temperatures, it starts changing its texture, which can affect your engine. Motor oil becomes thicker as the temperature outside approaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
It starts changing its normal viscosity, which means that it doesn’t have the same capacity to flow and to ensure that the engine is lubricated. Not surprisingly, many engines get damaged during the cold winter months because of these changes and they stop functioning properly.
The colder it gets outside, the thicker the oil becomes, and the greater the risk that the engine parts get damaged.
What is the freezing point of motor oil?
Unlike most liquids, oil doesn’t actually freeze when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, it becomes more solid and less capable of flowing in the engine.
Diesel oil, for example, shows specific changes if the temperature outside is below freezing. The changes are caused by the fact that this is a petroleum product that contains different types of waxes that precipitate when the temperatures shift. One of these signs is a whitish color.
This oil also becomes less fluid. Its ability to flow is impaired and, as a result, the engine’s capacity to function properly can also be affected. If the oil becomes too thick, you might even have problems starting the engine.
Gasoline, on the other hand, is less affected by low temperatures because it doesn’t contain the same substances as Diesel.
What can you do to avoid problems caused by cold temperatures?
Since motor oil can cause engine problems during the winter, you might want to consider opting for a different type of oil during the cold months. You can choose lightweight oils that will maintain their liquid state even at cold temperatures.
There are different types of winter-grade oils and you can find out more about their properties on their label. To help drivers find these products easily, most manufacturers mark them with the letter ‘W’ – from winter.
What you have to take into account when changing the motor oil is the product’s viscosity. To figure out how to choose one that has a lower viscosity and that can flow easier through the engine, you have to check the number that comes after the letter ‘W’. This represents the product’s weather rating.
If this value is low, it means that the oil will be more fluid and work better during cold temperatures. Usually, motor oils that are rated 5W are good for the cold winter months.
If you are not sure what oil you should choose, you can look for reviews online to see what works best for other drivers, or you can simply ask for recommendations before purchasing the product from the gas station or store.
Some of the most popular options are synthetic oils. These are quite resistant to low temperatures. Based on experiments, they can maintain their fluidity even at temperatures that go below -30 °C.
If winter oils that are labeled 5W are usually considered a good option, keep in mind that synthetic ones can have such a good resistance to cold temperatures that they are qualified as 0W.
What is the difference between conventional and synthetic oils?
There are different types of oils belonging to the two broader categories – conventional and synthetic. Generally, the composition of most products is a mixture of oil and additives where the oil represents approximately 80% of the compound. The additives contain different chemicals and they can be detergents, friction modifiers, dispersants, or compounds that boost the oil’s viscosity.
Also, there are many products that are based on a mixture of conventional and synthetic oils. Here are some basic facts that differentiate them.
Mixed oils that represent a blend of synthetic and conventional ones are a good option for those who want to maintain their engine during the cold season and spend less than they would on a fully synthetic product.
These oils can provide a good viscosity index that will keep your engine going throughout the winter. Some of the vehicles that usually run well with mixed oils include pickups and SUVs.
Conventional oils are typical motor oils that you can easily find everywhere. They are cheaper than synthetic or mixed oils and they are a safe option for almost any type of vehicle. These oils also have some impurities in their composition.
Fully synthetic oils are those that have the strongest resistance to cold. Moreover, these oils also contain significantly fewer impurities compared to conventional ones. Synthetic oils are consistent in any conditions and work equally well both at low and high temperatures.
For these reasons, they are pricier, but they are generally considered the best choice as they help maintain good engine performance and protect the parts against damage.
Besides these three main oil types, there is also another option that’s usually recommended for older engines and cars that are used extensively – high mileage oils. This type of oil contains a series of additives that can reduce the leaks that normally occur in older engines.
High mileage oils are a cost-effective option because they help minimize waste. At the same time, these oils help enhance the engine’s lifespan, which might be exactly what you are looking for if you’ve already been driving the same car for quite a while.
How often should you change the motor oil?
Regardless of the type of oil you choose, there is one general rule that applies to all vehicles – the oil needs to be changed periodically. This means you have to schedule your vehicle for servicing every now and then.
Changing the oil at regular intervals is important because worn-out oil can cause damage to the engine. If the lubricant is dirty, it will stop working well and it will prevent the engine from running smoothly. Dirty oil doesn’t provide the same efficiency as fresh one. This is normal and, to understand the difference it’s enough to compare it to the oil you use for cooking.
The more the oil gets used, the more its quality deteriorates, which means it will stop fulfilling its duty. The additives found in oil can boil out at a certain point. Moreover, the contaminants will start corroding the metal elements. The oil starts gathering a larger amount of abrasive particles as time passes and these can damage the engine.
Oil changes are part of the normal car maintenance routine. These operations are essential, especially for older cars. New ones might not need the oil to be changed as often. However, you shouldn’t let a year go by without changing the oil unless you drive rarely.
How often should you change your motor oil? There is no precise frequency. Each car has its specific needs based on its design and how much you drive it. It is always a good idea to check out your car’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends for your model.
If you no longer have it and you are not sure when to proceed with the oil change, you can schedule it for service at a specialized shop and find out if and how often the oil should be changed.
If your vehicle is new, the idea of servicing it might seem superfluous if everything works well. However, keep in mind that manufacturers recommend servicing cars every year. Also, you can calculate the frequency of the service appointments according to the mileage. In this case, remember that a car should be serviced each time it reaches 12,000 miles.
When you have been driving a car for 10 years or more, you should start considering changing the oil more often. In this case, the mileage you should take into account is between 4,500 and 9000 miles. New cars, on the other hand, can go as much as 18,000 miles without requiring new oil.
Your mechanic will be able to tell you exactly how often you need to change your car’s oil based on its model, its age, and how frequently you use it. With most car models, oil is typically changed every six months or every year. If you’re diligently involved in your car’s maintenance works, you will want to change the oil twice a year.
Knowing a few facts about your motor oil is essential in order to preserve your engine’s longevity. Choosing proper oil for the winter months and servicing your car regularly can help you optimize your vehicle’s lifespan.