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Most cars on the road today use multi-grade oil — one that can work efficiently in cold and hot weather. A multi-grade oil is rated by two numbers, such as 5W-30.
About the oil classification system.
Each engine oil comes with a classification indicating its viscosity, which is its friction or resistance to flow. In a multi-grade oil, the first number indicates how the oil will flow when it is cold. The lower the number, the lighter the oil and the better it will perform at lower temperatures. The second number indicates the thickness of that same oil at high temperatures. For example, a 5W-30 oil will flow as a 5-weight oil at zero degrees Fahrenheit and as a 30-weight oil at 210 degrees Fahrenheit
Why viscosity is a concern.
During cold starting, only a small amount of oil is present in the upper parts of engines. To lessen the friction when upper engine parts, such as the valve train, pistons, overhead cam and cam bearings, scrub against each other, a lower viscosity allows the oil to reach the components more quickly.
Why 5W-30 and 5w-20 oils are so popular.
Many vehicles today leave the factory with 5W-30 or 5w-20 engine oil. Vehicle manufacturers recommend them because they are lighter oils that perform well in a range of temperatures and help improve gas mileage.
Higher viscosity stability over a wider temperature range
Reduced oil thickening
Reduced wear and increased load-carrying ability.
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