Car Oil – What You Need To Know

Nov 11, 2019 | Articles

Car Oil – What you need to know.

It appears that there are some people who think that car oil simply has to be topped up like fuel. They seldom realise that car oil needs to be replaced. This is a sure-fire way to wear your engine out in short order. Remember, car oil does not maintain its state and composition while in use. Car oil continuously brakes down, burns, and dilutes. Because of this, it must be replaced before it loses its ability to lubricate the engine. How long this takes varies greatly and depends on several factors.

Let us consider an old VW Beetle for instance. This Beetle uses standard mineral oil and it has no oil filter. The driver of this Beetle is a white-knuckled, hell-bent teenager who mainly drives in city traffic or dusty conditions. The oil could last him a measly 3000 km. Now, let us consider a modern car that uses synthetic oil. The car has an oil filter and is used for highway cruising by a pensioner. The oil may last that driver well over 20 000 km.

Car Oil & Air Filters

Synthetic oil resists breakdown for longer, but not indefinitely. If the oil becomes too diluted and contaminated, you will have to replace it more frequently than otherwise. In fact, replacing a good mineral oil in good time will do as good a job and cost you less. Never drive your car without an air filter. This is especially true in a dry and dusty climate. This should actually be very obvious. Reusable wet air filters are better than nothing. They may yield a small performance improvement due to lower resistance to the flow of intake air. The downside is that they often fail at their primary job – properly cleaning the air and protecting your engine. Dirt will sound the death knell for an engine, so always fit the type of air filter that the factory recommends.


Another important factor is choosing the right viscosity. Always use the oil that the manufacturer prescribes. This is usually a multi-grade oil with a viscosity rating of something like 10W40 or 20W50. Viscosity relates to an oil’s resistance to flow or its “thickness”. Oil is thicker when cold and thinner when hot. In cold weather, thick oil may offer so much resistance that the engine is difficult to turn. In hot weather, an oil that is too thin will not provide sufficient oil pressure to lubricate the bearings.

The higher the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) number, the thicker the oil. If you only use a single-grade oil, you will have to change it every season. In very cold places, such as Lesotho and the Karoo, you can use SAE20 car oil in the winter. In the summer, you may consider using an SAE50 oil. A 20W50 multi-grade oil behaves like an SAE20 oil in winter when it is cold (hence the “W”). In the summer, it behaves like an SAE50 oil, thus solving the problem. You can read more about the designation of the “W” here.

Fit a Unichip

Don’t replace your oil with an oil that has a viscosity rating that is too low. The “thin” oil might boost the engine’s performance, and this is not a clever move. There is a far more reliable and risk-free way to eke the best power and economy out of your engine. How can you do this, you may ask? Well, by fitting a Unichip to optimise your engine’s mappings for your specific engine. You stand to gain more than you may think, without any of the risks associated with car modifications.

Yes, at Unichip we don’t modify, we tune and optimise. With the proper oil in the sump, your engine will last a long time too. Talk to us today about fitting a Unichip. This piggyback computer will optimise your car but still leave it standard under the skin. You will even be able to remove it and use it in your next car. You have nothing to lose! Do not miss out on the benefits of a Unichip. Click here to contact us and have our technicians fit your Unichip today.




Our skilled Unichip professionals have been chip-tuning for more than three decades.

We are here to answer any questions you might have regarding the first and original vehicle tuning device in the world: The Unichip.


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