Which oil must you use in your older or traditional automotive?

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Engines were developed with the lubricants of their time in mind, which are not identical to today’s oils

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Jil McIntosh Older engines may have special lubrication requirements Older engines may have special lubrication requirements Photo by Fred Bottcher

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If you have an older vehicle, you will likely change the oil regularly. But are you using the right oil for this?

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Older vehicles – usually 90s and earlier – may have special needs. They were designed to power the lubricants available at the time, and as engines and powertrain components have evolved, so have the fluids they contain. The right ones can be a factor in component performance and longevity.

“It’s about all of the normal things you can expect from lubrication, like engine cleanliness, wear protection, helping the cooling system to dissipate heat, and efficiency, such as how the engine uses the fuel you put in,” said Nicolas Demaria. Technical Support Manager for Motul, which recently launched a range of time-specific motor oils. “You can increase this efficiency with the right additives. You can achieve engine performance with less pumping loss. “

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Before the 1950s, cars ran on single weight oil Before the 1950s, cars ran on single weight oil Photo by Motul

Auto enthusiasts have long been on both sides of the synthetic oil topic – some say it can go into anything, while others believe it can cause leaks and other problems. Demaria warns that synthetic oil in very old cars can attack organic engine seals made of cork, for example, if they are not retrofitted with modern materials. The Motul oils increase their percentage of synthetic and detergent for various decades of vehicles, mimicking the incremental improvements that the petroleum companies have made over the years.

What is synthetic

With all brands of oil, it can be confusing what exactly synthetic oil is. It sounds like it was made entirely in a laboratory, but much of it – if not most of it – contains some dinosaur juice, either as a base or derived from natural gas. It can be difficult to say for sure, as the label doesn’t have to tell exactly how synthetic an oil is, and most oil manufacturers don’t disclose exactly how they make their products because they use proprietary processes.

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  1. This is how it works: vehicle fluids

    This is how it works: vehicle fluids

  2. Troubleshooting: Should I Use Synthetic Oil?

    Troubleshooting: Should I Use Synthetic Oil?

In general, synthetic oil starts with petroleum, which is then distilled and refined to extract the highest possible amount of impurities. It is then made into small, unitary molecules to create a synthetic oil base. These uniform molecules improve flow, reduce friction and wear, and slow the rate of oil degradation and oxidation. From there, the manufacturer integrates a proprietary mix of additives and cleaning agents. You will see some oil labeled “synthetic blend” or “semi-synthetic”. This is a synthetic oil that is mixed with ordinary oil. It’s cheaper than fully synthetic, but here’s the thing: companies don’t need to state how much of each type is in this bottle.

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Viscous over viscosity

Viscosity refers to how thick or thin the oil is at certain temperatures, which in turn indicates how well it flows under those conditions. Older cars ran on single grade, or straightweight, oil because that was all. In the 1950s, multigrade or multigrade oils – such as 10W30, where the “W” stands for “winter” and not for “weight” as some believe, came up. As you know, the first number is the cold temperature viscosity, which is where you want the oil to stay liquid and not thicken in the cold. and the second is hot where it shouldn’t get too thin.

1995 Honda Civic Del Sol 1995 Honda Civic Del Sol Photo by Honda

Monograde oils are still widely used mainly because they are used in very hot climates or in high performance applications such as mining or construction equipment. These single grade oils can be used in vehicles built in the 1950s and older – generally SAE 30 through SAE 50 – but most owners use multigrade oils. For the following decades, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s oil weight recommendations, especially for engines with forced induction or high speed.

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According to Demaria, oils with a wider temperature range appeared after gasoline prices skyrocketed in the 1970s and 1980s. “People thought about fuel efficiency and emissions and tried a lower viscosity and worked with 10W30 and then 5W30 oils. In the late 1980s and 1990s, many (car manufacturers) also started allowing plastics, especially Japanese and Europeans, ”he said.

Zinc above-

If you have an older engine with flat tappets (usually before the 1980s) or certain performance changes, you’ll need to treat it with an oil containing zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP) which lubricates it and prevents premature camshaft wear. Zinc was phased out when cars stopped because it can damage catalytic converters.

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You can buy ZDDP additives, but it’s easiest to use oil formulated for older or racing modified cars. This already contains the corresponding zinc content or a zinc substitute. Then do not fortify this oil with additives as you think that more zinc means more protection as too much zinc can also lead to wear and tear and corrosion.

1983 Nissan 300ZX 1983 Nissan 300ZX Photo by Nissan

Some oily tips

When a car is not driven much or is stored in winter, some owners change the oil only once a year. If you do, change it before you store it so it doesn’t sit with used oil in it. We prefer to change it back then when it comes out again.

Some people start their cars during storage time, especially when they need to get them out of the way in the garage. In this case, allow the motor to warm up thoroughly before switching it on again to avoid condensation and blow-by. Your car lasted so long; Now it’s about making it last even longer.

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