For summer oil changes, do you need a heavier weight? With winter behind us, it’s time to get your car tuned up at Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood and this is a question we get often. And while using the right oil for your car is important, let’s look at whether there really are any benefits to using a heavier weight oil in the summer.
According to a Popular Mechanics article, the old wisdom for changing oil was to use a lighter oil weight in the winter and a heavier weight in the summer. But that was back when the oil formulations only had one viscosity, and the oil would thin out if it was heated in the summer weather. When it got cold in the winter the oil would become thick and the pumps couldn’t properly lube the engine. To fix the problem, a lightweight oil such as 10-weight was used for cold weather, so it would flow. Then a heavier 30- or 40-weight oil was used in the summer months to stop the oil from breaking down in the hot weather.
But this is no longer the case when you come in for an oil change. You do not need to change your oil’s weight for the summer and winter because we now have multi-viscosity oil that flows when it’s cold, then thickens and protects better when it’s hot. This handles the needs of both weather types and prevents the need for seasonal oil changes.
Not only has the oil become effective across temperatures, but new engines are also designed and tested to work specifically with only the type of oil listed in your owner’s manual. If you have an older car you can still use the newer and better oils. In deciding which of the newer oils are best for the older cars, base the first viscosity on your climate, and use the original oil spec for the operating weight. Most older cars can perform fine with 10W30.
Newer synthetic oil has better and longer-lasting performance in all the critical areas. Synthetic oil gives better performance in extreme temperatures which makes cranking easier in the cold and gets lubrication to critical components faster. It flows better at freezing temperatures than conventional oil. It is more chemically stable and doesn’t evaporate as easily or break down in the high heat from your vehicle engine. This lets it resist turning into sludge, which can cause engine problems. Synthetic oil has less evaporative loss, a higher viscosity index (resistance to thinning as temperatures rise is the viscosity index), and greater resistance to oxidation thermal breakdown and sludge problems.
While synthetic may cost more, it lasts longer so your vehicle doesn’t need an oil change as often. Your car may actually be able to last up to 7,000 to 10,000 miles between oil changes. Synthetics also have complex additive packages for improving performance in both normal and extreme conditions.
While you should always follow the manufacturer’s suggestions on what oil to use in your car, the answer to the question, for summer oil changes, do you need a heavier weight, is no. Bring your car into Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood for all your oil changes and tune-ups. We’ll take great care of your vehicle all year long, no matter the season.