If you have ever felt overwhelmed when choosing an oil change service at the auto shop, you’re not alone. With the many different types of fluid available, it’s easy to be confused when choosing the most effective method for your vehicle.

Don’t just settle for a package because it’s the most affordable; some cars and trucks require high-performance lubricants to work at their highest efficiency.

The Meaning of "W"

Many people see the letter and number combination on a bottle of oil and automatically assume the W means weight. It actually stands for winter. The first number in the oil classification refers to cold weather viscosity. The lower the number, the less viscous the oil in cooler weather. So a 5W-20 oil will flow better in lower temperatures than a 10W- oil. The second number represents the viscosity at warmer temperatures.

Always follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for types of oil to use. After choosing the right viscosity of oil, now you have the choice of which type of lubricant will perform the best. Here is a look at some of the differences between the types of fluids available.

Synthetic and Blends

Modern engines frequently call for a fully synthetic oil. This fluid is designed to flow efficiently at low temperatures while maintaining peak consistency at full viscosity. It is a must to lubricate tight spaces found in newer motors. Manufacturers boast about the longer oil-change intervals that synthetic oil offers, but it’s important to take the advice of your owner’s manual, especially if a vehicle is under warranty. Synthetic blend oils are a popular choice because they are often less expensive than their full synthetic cousin while still offering some of the benefits.

Conventional

For engine protection without the expense or features of synthetics, conventional oil covers the bases for older motors. While it is much less expensive, you may find yourself changing the oil more often, as its life is usually recommended for only 3,000 miles.

High Mileage

Many oil manufactures make a specially designed lubricant for engines with over 75,000 miles. It is packed with additives like seal conditioners, to swell barriers that are prone to leaking. If you notice oil underneath your vehicle, it may be time to switch to a high-mileage option instead of paying for expensive engine repairs.