Engine Oil: What Does It Do And When Should I Change It

The ultimate engine oil guide is here. Learn all about how engine oil works and how to change it when the time comes.

Engine oil - what is it exactly?

You probably know you need to change it every now and then and it’s super important, but why?

Well any car with a standard petrol or diesel engine needs engine oil to run successfully and efficiently. Many consider oil to be the ‘lifeblood’ of the engine and for the most part they’re correct. In our engine oil guide, we discuss how engine oil helps the engine, how to check it AND how to change it. 

Let’s get to it.

 

How Engine Oil Works

For those curious about how engine oil works, don’t think of it as something that powers an engine. Think of it as a lubricant. An engine is made up of heaps of moving parts both big and small, that are constantly interacting with each other. When these parts interact without being properly lubricated, they create friction which can significantly lower the lifespan of these parts. 

Secondly, as well as lubricating all these components, engine oil works as an insulator and absorbs heat that's coming off of the moving parts, allowing the engine to function more efficiently.

Thirdly, engine oil works as an ‘engine cleaner’. It attracts impurities such as metal particles and debris that gets in the engines working parts and prevents build up. 

 

How To Check Engine Oil

If there’s one thing you need to know about car maintenance, it’s how to check engine oil.

To make sure your car’s running as smoothly as possible and the engine oil’s doing all of its jobs, you need to make sure you’ve got enough engine oil.

Checking your engine’s oil level is nice and simple. Just grab a rag and follow these easy steps.

  • Making sure the engine is switched off - open the car’s bonnet

  • Locate the dipstick - it will be a yellow ring about an inch in diameter

  • Take the dipstick out and wipe clean any oil

  • Insert the dipstick back in all the way and take it out

  • Check the markers on the dipstick to determine the level of oil

  • Once done insert the dipstick all the way in and close the bonnet of the car

If the oil is below the minimum marker on the dipstick, it’s time to top up. 

 

Engine Oil Specification

When it comes time to change your engine oil, it can be overwhelming looking at all the different options or ‘grades’. 

Engine oil comes in many different grades which are dependent on the type of engine your car has, the climate and other contributing factors. The main difference between engine oils are the oils viscosity - viscosity relates to the oil’s thickness as well as its resistance to heat.

You can determine an engine oil’s viscosity by the numbers on the oil’s container. For example if the container shows ‘10W-40’ - the number before the W describes the oil’s viscosity at lower temperatures or ‘winter’. The lower the number, the better the oil performs in cold temperatures. The number after the W describes the oil at the engines optimal operating temperature.

Other differentiating factors include different additives that are added to the engine oil. These additives have certain benefits for your engine. Things like detergents to clean the engine, antioxidants to prevent oxidation and rust/corrosion inhibitors.

If you’re unsure of what kind of engine oil your car takes, check out the owners manual. It will say exactly what type of oil is recommended. If you’re unsure or can't find your manual, contact your local Honda dealer directly.

 

Dedicated Honda Care

If you’re ever unsure about anything regarding vehicle maintenance, be sure to take your Honda to your local Honda dealership and let our team of experts take a look. 

Our team at Honda have access to specialist diagnostic equipment as well as Honda Genuine Parts. So you can be sure your Honda’s getting the very best care available. 

Click here to learn more about Dedicated Honda Care, the Honda tailored service program and Honda genuine parts.