MythBusters: Get to know what's true and what's not about motor oils

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Your vehicle's motor oil, it is said, is considered as its lifeblood. With the engine's numerous moving parts, keeping it well lubricated is a must.

And while you may hear and read a load of information about motor oil, keep in mind that not everything you take in is true. There are some myths out there that tend to mislead people into thinking that these are the right things to do. Which ones are they, you ask?

1. It has been said that one should change oil every 5,000kms. The truth of the matter is that the interval varies depending on the vehicle type: make and model. While some makes do require a 5,000km interval between oil changes, there are marques that extend this to 10,000kms. It would be best to check your owner's manual and service booklet to see which one your vehicle needs.

2. It has also been said that you don't need to change your oil filter when getting an oil change. This is absolutely false. The simple logic behind this is to help prevent contaminants from seeping into the fresh oil that is now in your engine.

3. Another myth that most motorists tend to believe is that once the engine oil is black, it's time to flush out the system. While this may have been true before, this doesn't necessarily apply today. Dark colored engine oil is a sign that the oil has been absorbing dirt that would otherwise have been deposited in the engine. This is what most modern motor oils are designed to do-to clean the engine. So relax and simply follow your owner's manual for the recommended oil change interval.

4. When it comes to using fully synthetic motor oils, there is this notion that switching back to regular, conventional oil is not advisable as it will damage your engine. Again, this is not true. It is okay to switch back and forth between fully synthetic and conventional oils. Do make sure, however, that the viscosity is the same and meets the requirements specified in the vehicle's owner's manual.

5. Speaking of synthetic engine oils, those old enough may recall that this type of motor oil used to cause seals to shrink, thus leading to oil leaks. This, of course, is not the case with today's modern engine oils. While they do clean the powerplant, they won't harm the seals and keep them intact. If, however, you drive an older vehicle that is at least 15 years of age, be wary about using fully synthetic oil as this can wash out sludge in the seals. As this is used as a blocker to compensate for any cracks in the engine, this can lead to oil leakage. Better ask a mechanic first to check your car's compatibility with the right synthetic oil.

6. It has been said that the "W" in the package stands for weight. Of course, any gearhead knows that "W" is short for Winter. And yes, the two numbers before and after the letter "W" represent the viscosity or the thickness of oil. The number before the letter "W" represents the viscosity of the oil at low temperature. The second number that comes after the "W" represents the viscosity of the oil at normal operating condition. The higher the number, the more viscous or thicker the oil is. It is important to follow the correct viscosity grade required by your car as indicated in its manual. Choosing too low viscosity grade may not provide the required engine protection as the oil can get too thin. Choosing too high viscosity grade could also hamper oil circulation as oil is too thick thereby reducing fuel efficiency.

So there you have it. Get to know your engine oil like you would your vehicle. After all, your vehicle can't run without it.

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