Car Care On Site’s Most Frequently Asked Questions and Tips

On our Feedback E-Mail Service Hotline, we are often asked general interest-type questions as well as those pertaining to specific situations. Listed below are a few of these general questions and our answers that you just may have been wondering about:

Questions & Tips

Dipstick Talks!

When To Change

Concerned Car Owners

Mixing Conventional Oil With Synthetic

Deciphering Driveway Drips

Listen To Learn Of Problems

Smell Something Funny?

Don't Run On 

Blue Smoke Signal

Choosing The Right Motor Oil

Understanding A Motor Oil Label I

Understanding A Motor Oil Label II

Common Motor Oil Myths: I

Common Motor Oil Myths: II

Common Motor Oil Myths: III

Common Motor Oil Myths IV:

Common Motor Oil Myths V:

Common Motor Oil Myths VI:

What motor oil does in your engine and why it's important?

Motor Oil Facts

 

 

Answers

Dipstick Talks!

When checking your oil with the dipstick, look at more than just the oil level. A black color to the oil probably indicates you're overdue for an oil change. A frothy color could indicate contamination of the oil. Metal particles might mean an engine check-up is needed, and it might mean you are again due for an oil change. Water droplets on the dipstick are most often caused by condensation and, in small amounts, won't harm your engine. Still, check to see if the PCV valve is functioning properly.


When To Change

This past year Consumer Reports released a study of motor oil based on use in New York taxis. One of CR's conclusions: Americans change their oil too often. This might seem at odds with mechanics' and motor oil marketers' recommendations of 3,000-mile oil changes. Not really. The CR study also advised that "some severe service - frequent cold starts and short trips, dusty conditions, trailer towing - may require a shorter interval." In the interest of keeping it simple, the industry has recommended conservative and relatively uniform drain periods. Still not convinced? In a 1996 poll of ASE Master Automobile Technicians, 95% either "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" that you should change your oil every 3,000 miles. Unless consumers want to get involved in oil monitoring by periodic sampling and analysis, the three months or 3,000 miles rule is still the best recommendation. 


Concerned Car Owners

Car owners can have their cars and protect the earth, too. Properly dispose of automotive fluids and parts by using recycling centers. Be aware that automotive refrigerant can be recycled and be prepared for the day when R-12 is no longer available. If you have an older car that requires R-12 (sometimes referred to by the trade name FREON), look into getting your air-conditioning system retrofitted to accept the new non-ozone depleting refrigerant, R-134a (also known as SUVA). And remember: there is no "drop-in" replacement for R-12. Worldwide auto manufacturers have switched to R-134a for new vehicle air-conditioning systems and recommend R-134a for retrofitting the R-12 fleet. The use of refrigerants other than R-12 or R-134a is NOT considered acceptable by the auto air-conditioning manufacturers, compressor and retrofit parts suppliers. Use of other refrigerants may void the warranty of air-conditioning systems and replacement parts.


Mixing Conventional Oil With Synthetic

Because synthetic motor oil is compatible with natural petroleum products, it is not necessary to flush your lubrication system when installing synthetics. Also, you may top off synthetics with natural petroleum oil between changes. To obtain all the benefits of a good synthetic or semi-synthetic motor oil, you're better off using only one type of oil.


Deciphering Driveway Drips

When you see brown or black drips, that means your car is losing engine oil. Almost two-thirds of the cars on the road today are a quart or more low on oil. Red drips indicate a transmission leak which needs immediate attention. Green or pale yellow means antifreeze/coolant is leaking. It can come from a radiator leak or from a cracked or disconnected hose. It can also indicate a faulty water pump.


Listen To Learn Of Problems

When you hear knocking or pinging it might be good or bad. A little pinging means that you're achieving good fuel economy. Excessive pinging or knocking may indicate a higher octane fuel, timing adjustment or tune-up are needed. If you hear squealing, it warns of brake linings that need replacing. Clanking? Check your transmission fluid; it may be low. There may also be something wrong with the universal joint or rear differential. Sputtering is a tip-off that the engine is not getting enough fuel. It could be a bad fuel pump, clogged fuel filter or car trouble (if your vehicle is one of the rare ones with a carb instead of fuel injection).


Smell Something Funny?

A burnt oil smell indicates an extremely low level of oil or oil leaking onto a hot engine. A burnt plastic smell usually means the car's wiring has shorted which could result in a fire sparked by the electrical system. Shut your car off immediately. And if you smell gasoline fumes, it can mean there's a leak in the fuel line, carburator or possibly the fuel tank. Again, turn off the engine and check for leaks - and wait until the car is cool.


Don't Run On 

"Empty" Start thinking about a fill-up when the gas gauge drops to one-quarter of a tank. Why? Two words: condensation and contaminants. Just as dew forms on grass in the morning, water droplets condense on the inside of your gas tank when it cools. The less gas, the more space for condensation. this water can cause gas line freeze-up and poor performance. As long as your tank has plenty of gas, contaminants stay put and cause no problems. Put when the tank is low on gas, some impurities can get sucked into the fuel line. The result is clogged fuel filters and injectors.


Blue Smoke Signal

Blue smoke from the tailpipe at start-up after your car has been sitting overnight or for a long time is a sign that your valve seals are on the fritz. The smoke, which in most cases disappears after a few seconds, comes from motor oil that seeps past the valve seals and into the combustion chamber when the engine is turned off. It is natural for valve seals to leak a little on older engines. There's no cause for immediate alarm. Problems may crop up, however, if too much oil seeps into the combustion chamber and begins to foul spark plugs. Until then, make sure the engine is filled to the proper level with oil.

Blue smoke when decelerating can indicate the rings that seal the oil out of the combustion chambers are old and worn out, maybe even to the point that the piston cylinder walls have been scratched our scarred. Many times, an engine with a lot of miles on it will have trouble keeping oil that splashes up from the oil pan from slipping into the combustion chamber. The problem is most evident when the engine has been pushed hard, and then decelerates. As with leaky valve seals, there is little reason to worry unless spark plugs are fouling, or if the oil level is not checked regularly.


Choosing The Right Motor Oil

The following guidelines will help you select the motor oil that is most appropriate for your passenger car, light duty truck or sport utility vehicle.

Viscosity Grade:

The first step in choosing a motor oil is to determine the appropriate SAE viscosity grade. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has devised a classification system based on viscosity measurements. Viscosity is the oil's ability to flow. The proper viscosity ensures that the oil will flow to critical engine areas and reduce friction in both the oil and the engine.

Check your owner's manual for the recommended grade for your vehicle.

Most U.S., Japanese and European car manufacturers recommend 5w30 or 10w30 viscosity grades.

The following chart can help determine the SAE viscosity grade for your particular vehicle.

Type of Motor Oil:

Once you've determined the correct viscosity grade, the next step is to decide which type of motor oil is most appropriate for your vehicle and driving habits. For example:

Racing Formula - If you run your engine hard, or a

Semi-Synthetic - If you want a little more protection than what conventional motor oil provides.

Full Synthetic – If you want a superior protection.


Understanding A Motor Oil Label I

SAE Viscosity Grades:

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has devised a classification system to help you choose the proper motor oil for your vehicle. This system is based on viscosity measurements. Viscosity is the oil's ability to flow. Slow-flowing oils are assigned high numbers; oils that flow more freely receive low numbers. These numbers are preceded by the designation SAE and appear on packages of motor oil products.


Understanding A Motor Oil Label II

Single-grade oils (SAE 30, SAE 40) vs. multi-grade oils (SAE 5w30, SAE 10w30):

There are two types of SAE classifications: single-grade and multi-grade. A single-grade oil such as SAE 30 has certain cold weather limitations. In very cold weather, it will not flow adequately to protect the engine.

A multi-grade oil such as SAE 10w30 can be used across a broad range of temperatures. These oils are widely used because they allow for easy starting and pumping at low temperatures; yet they are viscous enough at high temperatures to lubricate effectively. Most domestic, European and Japanese engine manufacturers recommend multi-grade oils.


Common Motor Oil Myths: I

High performance oils are only for racecars, exotics, etc. High performance oils are designed for any motorist looking for some additional protection for their car, light truck, van or sport utility vehicle - whatever the make or model. You may want to try a high performance motor oil if you:

Drive under extreme conditions

Drive a high-mileage car

Tow a boat or trailer

Want the peace of mind knowing you're running with premium motor oil.

 


Common Motor Oil Myths: II

I can tell if I need to change my oil just by looking at the color. It is virtually impossible for the individual motorist to determine when the contaminant level in a motor oil is too high. This is why, for maximum protection, it is recommended that you change the oil in your vehicle every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.


Common Motor Oil Myths: III

You can safely mix weights to get a custom blend. Mixing weights of motor oil (for example a 5w40 and a 10w30) is not recommended. Each different viscosity of motor oil has a balance of viscosity improvers that determine its viscosity rate and how well it protects your engine. If you upset that balance, you upset the viscosity.


Common Motor Oil Myths IV:

As long as I change the oil filter, I can run longer between oil changes. Changing the filter is great, but you've got to change the oil along with it, given that the oil's additives wear out and contaminates get into the oil itself. The filter can only capture the bigger particles suspended in the oil, not replenish spent additives.


Common Motor Oil Myths V:

Owners of light trucks/sport utility vehicles need to treat their engine lubrication systems differently from a passenger car. It isn't necessary to treat the lubrication system of a sport utility vehicle any differently from a passenger car since roughly the same engines power these two classes of vehicles. Consult your owner's manual, which recommends a viscosity grade of motor oil. The additives in motor oil will protect your engine - whether it's in a light truck or a passenger car. If you are a hard-core truck enthusiast and want to give your lubrication system advanced protection - try either a racing oil or some form of a synthetic oil.


Common Motor Oil Myths VI:

All motor oil is the same. All motor oils must meet quality standards and performance requirements established by the American Petroleum Institute (API) in order to carry the API Certification Mark ("donut") on the label. This ensures that the motor oil will adequately protect your car's engine. If this mark does not appear on the label, the oil should not be used.

However, all motor oils are not the same. Although they may all carry the API Certification Mark, there are several different types of motor oil.

Racing motor oils have a powerful additive package that helps them withstand extreme temperatures and the excessive rpm you'd expect from a performance engine.

Conventional oils - those made of petroleum-based oils refined from crude oil - adequately perform in an engine. They lubricate moving metal parts, hold contaminants from the combustion process in check and disperse heat. Synthetics do an even better job by increasing horsepower and fuel economy through reduced friction, and reduce wear by flowing better when an engine is first started.

Semi-synthetic blends combine the best of both worlds. They have many of the benefits of full synthetics, but cost far less.

The difference between synthetics and conventional oil is that synthetic products offer better fuel economy, engine protection and an increase in horsepower.

 


What motor oil does in your engine and why it's important?

The primary function of motor oil is to keep metal from touching metal. An engine contains hundreds of moving parts that must be kept separate from each other. If metal surfaces come in contact, friction occurs. With friction comes heat, and heat will warp and distort moving engine parts. Motor oil creates a slick film between metal parts that lets them glide over each other. 


Motor Oil Facts

What motor oil is made of?

Base stocks: Make up about 80% of motor oils, serving as a carrier for additives.

Additives: The "active ingredient" in motor oils, making up to 20% of the product. These additives must be replenished through regular oil changes.

May include any of the following:

Detergents/Dispersants: Keep the oil clean by helping prevent the formation of harmful sludge or varnish deposits.

Rust and Corrosion Inhibitors: Counteract the rust-causing water vapor and corrosive acids that are naturally formed when an engine is running.

Viscosity Index Improvers: Chemical compounds that change the base stock's characteristics and make multi-grade oils possible.

Anti-Foaming Agents: Help prevent wear by weakening and collapsing tiny air bubbles almost as soon as they are formed in the oil.

Pour Point Depressants: Chemical additives that allow the oil to flow at lower temperatures. Found in most motor oils designed for cold weather use.

Extreme Pressure Additives: Help oil deal with the demands of smaller, harder working engines. Also known as friction modifiers, these additives coat moving parts with a tough film of lubricant that reduces friction and may even improve gas mileage.

Oxidation and Bearing Corrosion Inhibitors: Oxidation inhibitors slow down high-temperature oil deterioration, while bearing corrosion inhibitors form a protective coating on sensitive bearing metals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 787-640-5532 / 787-640-5327, FAX: 787-703-0446 / 787-880-1849 or e-mail service@carcareonsite.com informing your company name and phone number.