Much Ado About Oil

The Basics

OilMotor oil is manufactured for the lubrication of internal combustion engines, and its main function is to reduce the wear on the moving parts inside of your engine. Motion causes friction, and friction causes wear, and too much wear on your engine can be costly. Motor oil also inhibits corrosion, cleans the engine, improves sealing and keeps things cool by carrying heat away from the moving parts.

But Really, What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

It is important to check your oil regularly, especially in older vehicles. To do this, make sure your vehicle is turned off, preferably for at least 10 minutes to let the oil settle. Pop the hood and look for the dipstick. Pull it out, wipe it off with a rag or a paper towel, then reinsert it and pull it out again. If the oil level is below the line that says “fill”, it’s important to add oil immediately. Running your engine completely out of oil can result in it “locking up”, which will likely require a whole new engine. Not a repair bill anyone wants to see!

But Why Do I Have to Change It?

Oil breaks down over time and/or use, which is why it’s often recommended to change your oil after a certain number of miles OR a certain number of months. As the oil breaks down, it becomes less and less effective, and the filter (which is also replaced with an oil change) will become more and more clogged. Getting regular oil changes will help to keep your engine’s internal parts operating smoothly, which will in turn lengthen the life of your vehicle. You will find your manufacturer’s recommendations for changing the oil in your owner’s manual, but many mechanics are firm believers in always changing the oil every 3000 miles. After all, an oil change is one of the least expensive maintenance operations, and it’s protecting one of the most valuable parts of your vehicle.

Synthetic vs. Conventional

There are literally entire books written about motor oil, but for the average consumer one of the most useful pieces of knowledge is the differences between synthetic and conventional oils. Synthetic oil is a lubricant that has been synthesized from chemical compounds and offers a variety of advantages over conventional oil, including:

  • Improved lubrication and greater wear protection
  • Better stability
  • Reduced breakdown
  • Fewer deposits and reduced “sludge” left behind
  • Flows better in lower temperatures
  • Protects better in higher temperatures
  • Protects critical turbocharger parts

The only downside of synthetic oil is the price, which can be a significant factor for many consumers. At the Hershey Motors Service Department, we offer either a full synthetic oil change or a synthetic blend.

What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

If you’ve ever been shopping for motor oil, you’ll know there are a lot of options. The numbers you’ll find on the front (such as 5w-30) refer to the oil’s viscosity, which describes its thickness.


The first number describes the viscosity at low temperatures, while the second number describes the viscosity at normal engine operating temperatures. For example, the “5” in 5w-30 will protect an engine down to about -25° F, and the “30” is well-suited for the typical temperatures that most cars operate at these days. Race cars or vehicles pulling heavy loads on hot days may require a higher number.

In the old days, oils came in a single-grade viscosity, meaning you might have to change your oil depending on the season. SAE 30 may have been a good choice for the summer, but in the winter you may have had to switch to SAE 10w (the “w” actually stands for winter). But multi-grade viscosity oils have eliminated the need for changing your oil due to the seasons.

Does It Matter What Kind of Car I Drive?

Yes. While most standard cars take a standard amount and type of oil, there are some cars that require higher quality oil products. When you’re buying a car, it’s not a bad idea to know if your car will require a more expensive type of oil. Some GMs, for instance, require a high-quality oil called Dexos, and diesel trucks and diesel cars require special types of oil.

What Is Included in a Standard Oil Change?

While every garage is different, an oil change for most vehicles at the Hershey Motors Service Department also includes a new oil filter, topping off of fluids, testing the battery, inflating tires, and a visual brake check as well as a visual once-over for any obvious signs of needed repairs.

Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about oil changes, it might be time to schedule one! Call 610-857-5283 to set up an appointment, or schedule an appointment online through our website.

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