What is Oil Viscosity?

Oil Viscosity Explained

You know you need oil for your vehicle. Now what? An oil change doesn't have to be confusing or complicated. First, be sure you maintain a sufficient supply of fresh oil in your car. It's needed to lubricate the moving engine parts, absorb some of the heat generated through friction, and suspend the dirt that can be abrasive to metal parts. If you're worried about what kind of oil to choose based on its properties, relax. We'll be glad to explain viscosity to you. Better yet, bring your ride to Noble Auto Service in Noblesville, Indiana, and eliminate both the worry and the work. Let us help you with any make or model.

Viscosity? What is That?

Viscosity is a descriptor of how well motor oil pours at particular temperatures. While that may sound complicated, you can easily understand it once you know what it is and what to look for on the label. The automotive aisle at your favorite store may seem like a sea of endless labels with small print. However, viscosity is indicated by easy-to-find large writing. It will appear in the format XW-XX. Numbers will stand in place of the Xs. The first X that you'll see before the W indicates the viscosity. A low number tells you that the oil will pour more easily at cold temperatures (thus, the W for Winter). Specifically, it's a measure of how thin the oil will be at zero degrees Fahrenheit. Hence, 5W engine oil pours more easily than 5W. The numbers behind the hyphen (XX) let you know how much the oil thins out at higher temperatures. The higher the number, the greater the resistance to thinning. For instance, 40 does not thin as easily as 30.

Why Does It Matter?

Maybe you're curious about why viscosity is even an important consideration. While a sufficient supply of fresh, clean oil is the primary concern, viscosity is still a very impactful feature of lubricant. Think about the critical functions and protections of motor oil. It's what stands between your engine and catastrophic failure due to warping from excessive heat or corrosion due to free floating debris. Oil that's too thick for your vehicle's needs can't coat the moving metal parts well enough. This could lead to damage. On the other hand, if oil becomes too thin, it may not cling to parts well enough to protect them. Consider the conditions where you typically operate your vehicle as well as your manufacturer's recommendations (in the owner's manual). Although it's great to grasp the overarching concepts surrounding oil viscosity, it's also nice to have a reliable auto service and repair partner in your hometown. Bring your car to Noble Auto Service for all your oil change needs.

Written by Reggie Stewart