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Why the Oil You Use Matters

Why the Oil You Use Matters

As drivers, we're probably all familiar with changing our oil.

We know it's important, we might know why it's important, but beyond that we probably don't think too much about it.

However, there are actually a lot of important considerations that go into an oil change, particularly the type of oil you're using. 

But we don't expect you to be experts on the right types of oil to use in your truck. That's why we turned to Brian Stern of Stern Oil to give us the rundown. Read on for his explanation of why the oil you use matters.

It prevents or reduces the wear of engine components

Contact friction is the result of metal-to-metal contact which is often due to inadequate lubrication and can lead to the wear of engine components. If the oil is too thick to be pumped, or if the oil is not thick enough to keep the components separated at high temperatures, this can cause friction damage when an engine starts up.

It reduces friction and increases efficiency 

This allows engine components to move with less drag, requiring less energy and improving fuel economy.

A reminder to all operators: Install the correct viscosity of oil in all applications. This is important because incorrect viscosity can lead to more aggressive wear, shorter engine life, and decreased efficiency or fuel economy. 


vis·cos·i·ty 2Fviˈskäsədē2F - the state of being thick, sticky, and semifluid in consistency, due to internal friction.


The slower the rate of flow, the heavier or thicker the fluid. The faster the rate of flow, the thinner or lighter the fluid.

The most critical aspect of lubrication is to choose a viscosity heavy enough to maintain a film of oil that prevents two moving metal components from touching each other (resulting in wear of the components), while keeping the oil as light as possible to reduce drag.

An additional consideration is the machinery's tolerance. Newer equipment has reduced tolerances from past years that required lighter viscosities to flow into these areas, preventing wear. A heavier viscosity of oil will not flow into the nooks and crannies, forcing those components to operate without lubrication resulting in premature wear.

A good visual for this is the Milky Way commercial where the swimming pool is filled with caramel, making it difficult for swimmers to move. The amount of energy exercised would be more significant in a pool of caramel than in a pool of water. This holds true in lubrication: the thicker or heavier the oil, the more energy it takes for components to move through the lubricant.

Choosing the correct viscosity of lubricant is the most important decision an installer can make to get the longest life out of their engine or any other application requiring a lubricant. 

It prevents rust and corrosion

Rust and corrosion will result in the loss of metal and future failure of components, or reduced efficiency. Water is the catalyst that causes the oxidation process. In order to prevent rust, you simply need to keep the water out.

Oil can effectively prevent oxidation by coating the metal, creating a protective barrier to keep out external elements. If the water is unable to get to the metal there will be no oxidation.

It increases suspension and removal of contaminants

The fuel combustion process creates many contaminates and the engine is designed to remove those contaminants through the exhaust. However, not all of these contaminants leave the engine through the exhaust. Contaminants that do remain in the engine must be properly suspended in the engine oil where they will be drained with the oil at proper engine oil drain cycles (commonly referred to as an oil change).

Contaminants not properly suspended and dispersed will deposit throughout the engine causing wear and restricting or reducing oil flow to the engine. 

Higher quality oils will maintain the API specifications throughout the intervals between changes, and will allow the operator to extend those drain intervals. Most operators are aware of installing the correct specification of oil as directed by the engine manufacturer, but is that oil meeting the specifications when you drain it?

In other words, you should expect the same level of protection from the time the oil is installed to the time it is changed.

Quality Oil Matters 

While the thought of spending the money on high quality oil may seem less appealing in the short term, it truly is worth it in the long run. Your engine will see reduced wear, and you'll benefit from increased confidence in your equipment.

Don't fall into the trap of pinching pennies when it comes to oil. It's simply not the place to cut costs. 

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