Engine Oil Specs: Things to Consider When Buying Engine Oil

What are the specifications you do look at when buying engine oil for your car?

Do you know that the engine oil you use as a lubricant to a car plays a vital role in making your engine good or cause damages to the engine? Yes, it does.

So, in this article, I will enlighten you on how to choose the right engine oil for your car.

Engine oil is used to lubricate the engine parts, which are in incessant friction.

The engine will help to reduce friction which increases the wear & tear of engine parts. Through combustion, the energy is lost and the friction between mechanical parts causes the engine temperature to go high.

However, before choosing which engine oil, it’s advised that you first of all draw a conclusion on the type of engine oil that your car needs because it’s the nature of the product that’ll elucidate its viscosity.

Types of Engine Oil

We have three types of engine oil namely;

  1. Mineral oils
  2. Synthetic oils
  3. Semi-synthetic oils

MINERAL OILS: This engine oil is recommended to be used on “conventional” engines, older models, or engines without turbochargers.

However, this type of oil is gotten by refining petroleum.

They are naturally thick compared to other types of engine oil.

Their cost price is low.

NOTE; If you want to drive in extreme temperate, then avoid Mineral oils coz it’s only recommended for driving in temperate climates.

SYNTHETIC OILS: Unlike mineral oils, synthetic oils contains fewer impurities and are chemically modified.

This alone should tell you that these products are of high quality.

Synthetic oils are specially made for high performing engines because it tends to optimize the motors engine maintenance and are suitable for diesel and petrol engines.

SEMI-SYNTHETIC OILS are made up of a mixture of mineral oil and synthetic oil.

So, with the two oils coming together, the engine performance and protection are improved.

They are of good quality/price ratio and their usage doe not have any negative effect on the frequency of oil changes.

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Engine Oil Specifications to Look Out for Whenever You Want to Buy

Just like other products must be certified by organizations like NAFDAC, SON, etc. Depending on the function of the product, Engine oil is not exempted from this.

In Engine oils, If oil has ACEA and API ratings, that means it’s a good one. This is because ACEA and API ratings are the acceptable standards for oils.

What is the Full Meaning of API and ACEA

API: American Petroleum Institute

ACEA: Association des Constructeurs Europeens d’Automobiles

API specs

API is good for both Petrol and Diesel Engines.

It’s often indicated with the letters;

which stands for petrol and C which stands for Diesel.

So, if you want to engine oil and then you see something like “SG, or any abbreviation that starts with S on the specification area of the oil container, that means the oil is for petrol engines. On the other hand, if you see abbreviations that start with “C” that simply means that the oil is suitable for diesel engine.

If you see something like “API SG/CF” or any combined abbreviations like that, that means the oil is food for both petrol and diesel engine.

However, each of the API specs has its own interpretation, so to be on the safe side kindly check the table below;

API specYear of introductionIndication
SG1989contains a high degree of functional dispersants that are resistant to black sludge
SH1993has similar engine tests as SG but contains a phosphorus limit of 0.12% in addition to volatility, foam control, and stability
SJ1996Its engine test is the same as SG/SH, but it contains a phosphorus limit of 0.10% as well as volatility limit variations.
SL2001This is mostly found in all new engine tests of modern day engines designed to align with the latest emission standards.
SM2004It has advanced features such as oxidation resistance, wear protection, low performance temperature and deposit protection in comparison to the older categories.
CD1995represents the international turbo oil engine standard for many years. It makes use of a single cylinder for engine testing.
CE1984indicates an improved regulation of oil consumption as well as piston deposit and wears, oil thickening, and makes use of multi cylinder engines for testing.
CF41990shows continuous improvements in controlling oil consumption and deposit of pistons. It also makes use of emission test engines that are low.
CF1994It’s the advanced CD version. It’s mainly used for indirect injection engines.
CF21994It’s the yardstick for defining accurate control of deposits in the cylinder and scuffing of the ring face.
CG41994Development of CF4 made way for continuous control of oxidation stability, piston deposits and soot entrainment.
CH41998Development of CG4 for better performance, is the result of more comprehensive engine tests involving either low or high-sulphur fuels.
CI42002conforms to 2004 emission standards, optional to systems with up to 0.5%-sulphur fuel or when CE, CD, CG4, CF4 or CH4 is required.

The best oil API specs to use now are SM, SL, CI4, or CH4.

Now, let’s look at the ACEA specifications;

ACEA specs

According to naijaauto, The Association des Constructeurs Europeens d’Automobiles (ACEA) is the European type of API in the US.

ACEA has its point of view emphatically on the specific oil performance. A = PetrolB = Diesel, and C = Catalyst Compatible or low Sulphated Ash, Phosphorus, and Sulphur (SAPS).

Performance categories of the ACEA include:

ACEA specInterpretation
A1Economy petrol of fuel
A2Performance level (standard)
A3High performance
A4Put aside for future use in some direct injection engines
A5Uses both A1 fuel economy in addition to the performance of A3
B1Diesel fuel economy
B2Performance level (standard)
B3High performance
B4Used on cars with direct diesel injections
B5Uses fuel economy of B1 with a performance of both B3 and B4
C1-04Based on A5/B5-04 low SAPS, petrol & light duty diesel engine, 2-way catalyst compatible
C2-04Based on A5/B5-04 mid SAPS, petrol & light duty diesel engine, 2-way catalyst compatible
C3-04Based on A5/B5-04 mid SAPS, petrol & light duty diesel engine, 2-way catalyst compatible, higher HTHS, resulting in better performance

NOTE: In ACEA specs, oils with A3/B3, A5/B5, or C3 index are of higher general quality. They are duly recommended for usage.

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Other Things to Look at When You Are Buying Engine Oil

  1. Check the oil viscosity: That will help you to know how thick the oil is.
  2. OEM approvals and codes: This helps to determine if the oil is certified.
  3. Lastly, checkout for the “Intended use”: This will help you to know if that’s the right oil for your engine. So, read that part thoroughly.

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