Choosing the Correct Oil for Your Vehicle

4 Comments27 June 2018  |  Ravenol Marketing

Which oil should I use in my car?


Choosing the right oil for your vehicle can be a dizzying task – look inside any automobile store or online shop and you’ll see rows of similar looking bottles with different viscosities (oil thickness) for all kinds of specific purposes. To make matters harder, if you chose the wrong type it can cause increased fuel consumption and excessive wear to your vehicle.

The best thing to do is dig out the manufacturer’s handbook or go on their website and take a look at what specifications are recommended for your make, type and age of vehicle. In particular, the grade and ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers' Association) specification are important to note down. There are also apps you can use, such as RAVENOL’s Which Oil, which will tell you which products in our range will suit your vehicle.

Whatever you do, don’t just buy the cheapest oil you can find, or listen to a backstreet mechanic trying to convince you one generic oil will do for every vehicle – if it was that simple why would RAVENOL be investing millions in developing products specific to each make and model?

So, once armed with the manufacturer’s recommendations, next there are a few more things to consider:

Warranty: If your vehicle is still under warranty, using something other than the recommended specification/ grade of oil may invalidate the warranty on a new vehicle. Many RAVENOL oils carry full Manufacturer’s OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) approvals, and there will be one recommended for almost every make of vehicle, so you can safely select one from our extensive range.

Climate: A low ‘W’ oil is thinner and works better in areas prone to cold winters and therefore improves cold starting. A high ‘W’ oil is thicker and will keep its consistency better in hot climates, but don’t let the heatwave have you running out to buy thicker oil – modern cars and especially hybrid cars require much thinner oils.

Age: If your vehicle is old there might be a build up of soot/dirt. RAVENOL’s CleanSynto® technology actively reduces these deposits so that oil can reach critical lubricating points more effectively. You’ll notice an improvement in engine efficiency and significantly reduce the risk of engine problems in the future.

Wear: If your vehicle has a high mileage (or you’ve been using cheap “multipurpose” oils), your engine will probably have worn, leaving wider spaces between moving parts. To ensure protection, switch to a slightly thicker grade oil, especially in summer, or speak to us about our special range of high-mileage oils.

So now we know the recommended specifications and how the vehicle’s age/ mileage might affect it, lets take a look at how to read the bottle labels. The brand and viscosity (thickness) are the most visible, but the approvals lower down are very important.

At the top underneath the RAVENOL logo is the product name. It might not be clear from the German name that “Vollsynthetisches” is a fully synthetic oil, but you can tell from the gold bottle and label. Silver is used for semi-synthetic oils and yellow for mineral oils.  We’ll explain these more below. 

The large writing underneath is the type of oil. A transmission oil might be named after the type of transmission it’s suited for. Other oils, such as engine oils, show the viscosity – 5W-30 on this example. The first number is the viscosity in winter – marked by “W”. The second number is the viscosity in hot running conditions.

Here comes the technical bit: At the bottom on the right are the technical specifications and manufacturer’s approvals. And on the left above the security hologram and recycling mark will be the Manufacturer’s OEM approvals. A doughnut API (American Petroleum Institute) approval logo tells you if the oil meets its current service rating - in the middle is the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) viscosity number and at the bottom it tells you if the oil has passed the Energy Conserving test. A starburst ILSAC (International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee) logo means that the oil meets their current engine protection standard and fuel economy requirements.

API logo (showing SAE) and ILSAC logo

Are you still with me? Good, you should now know which oil is best for your vehicle and be able to read the oil bottle label to check the specifications match the requirements in the manufacturer’s handbook. Finally, here is a quick glossary to explain some of the terms mentioned above:

Full Synthetic Oil: These oils are entirely made from artificial compounds and are specifically designed for high tech engines, but as technology becomes more prevalent a wider range of manufacturers are recommending them. They are more expensive but have superior, longer-lasting performance, better protection against wear and deposits, better cold-start characteristics, maintain lubrication at high temperatures and most importantly – reduce fuel consumption!

Semi-synthetic Oil: These oils are a mixture of mineral oils and synthetic oils. They are cheaper because of the mineral oil base, but still have some of the properties of synthetic oils. In some cars performance will be reduced compared to the full synthetics – check your vehicle handbook.

Mineral Oil: The are conventional oils made from components purified from crude oil. They offer basic lubrication and wear protection, though may have an additional additive package to boost performance. Though cheaper, you’ll need to change your oil and filters more often so we don’t recommend these.

High Mileage Oil: If like 60% of vehicles on the road yours has over 75,000 miles on the clock, you should consider high mileage oils. Specially formulated for engines with larger gaps due to wear, they include anti-wear additives, seal conditioners to restore flexibility and viscosity-index improvers to maintain oil pressure and reduce oil consumption.

Additives: These are compounds added to the oil/ fuel to improve performance, but be careful as some affect your catalytic converter/ diesel particle filter and might not be environmentally friendly – more reasons to always use an approved oil. Common additives include detergents to remove deposits, anti-wear additives, viscosity-index improvers, foam inhibitors and friction modifiers which reduce friction and improve mileage.

We hope you’re feeling more comfortable about choosing oils now, but if you’re ever stuck, please contact us – we’re happy to help!

Cosmin Voiculescu
04 June 2019  |  13:31

Hi, I drive an Audi A5 B8 3.0 diesel engine with 239 bhp. What grade oil would you recomend? Thank you

Ravenol Marketing
05 June 2019  |  11:05

Thank you for your comment. Please take a look at our "Which Oil" app for our recommendations

Bill Dunham
25 April 2020  |  1:17

I drive a 99 .5 Golf TDI it has low kilometres and always seen great brands of oil I've always your guys transmission fluid and hands down it is the best I've never tried the oil would like to would like to know the best 4 alh diesel