Pants to shorts. Hot chocolate to iced coffee. Heat to A/C. You switch up a lot of things in summer. Should you choose a different motor oil type at your next oil change, too? There’s a long-held belief that you should, but this belief might be more fiction than fact.
Multi-Grade Motor Oil Adapts to the Temperature
Thanks to advances in motor oil technology, most vehicles no longer need one specific type of motor oil in the winter and one in the summer. Choosing different motor oil types for different seasons, however, used to be common practice.
That's because conventional motor oil used to have only one viscosity, or thickness. It was called "single grade" motor oil. Drivers would use a winter grade oil during cold weather, since it was designed to be thin and flow more easily in low temperatures. In the summer, they would swap out their winter oil for a thicker one, since hot temperatures thin out oil.
Today, however, most motor oils are multi-grade or multi-viscosity. They offer a wider range of protection for temperatures all year round.
Multi-viscosity oil has special additives that expand when the oil heats up and shrink as it cools down. This helps the oil flow thin in cold temperatures and then thicken in the heat, giving your engine exactly what it needs, when it needs it.
It's no longer necessary to choose a different oil grade each season. Multi-grade motor oil adapts for you!
But Oil Changes Remain Essential
Even though there's no need to swap oil grades in the summer, you should still invest in regular oil changes. Fresh, clean oil optimizes your vehicle's performance by properly lubricating engine parts and keeping the engine healthy—no matter the season.
Your vehicle might need fresh motor oil, if:
- Your oil looks dark and gritty.
- Your engine runs louder than usual. (This may indicate that engine parts are starting to rub together and could result in premature engine wear.)
- Your Check Engine or Oil Light comes on and doesn't go away.
- You can't remember the last time you had your oil changed.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the best oil for summer is the one your vehicle manufacturer recommends. The same goes for winter. Always follow the viscosity grade recommended in your owner’s manual. You don’t necessarily need to choose different oil grades for hot and cold weather, but you do need to invest in regular oil changes. Visit your local Firestone Complete Auto Care to speak to a qualified technician and get an oil change today.