Is there a difference between summer oil and winter oil for your car or truck? The answer is a little more complicated than simply yes or no.
Which oil you should put in your motor depends on the manufacturer specifications, how much stress you put on your vehicle and where you drive. That being said, the seasons can play into each of those factors, so let’s take a look at three tips that will keep your engine healthy throughout the summer months.
1. Use a Multi Viscosity Oil
The issue of which oil to use for which temperature was largely solved when the auto industry moved to multi viscosity oil from straight-weight oils decades ago. That’s why you should always follow your owner’s manual when choosing your oil. The engineers that designed your engine know exactly what it needs, trust them and you will be fine.
A multi viscosity oil flows at one rate when cold, and another when it has warmed up to operating temperature. For example, a 10w30 oil flows like a thinner 10-weight lubrication in winter and a thicker 30-weight oil once it’s warm. This means you don’t have to switch back and forth between summer oil and winter oil with the changing of the seasons.
Some antique vehicles do still use single-viscosity or straight-weight oils. If you find yourself in this camp, then yes, you may want to use a slightly thicker oil if you live in an area that sees high temperatures during the summer months. It’s well worth looking into making the switch to a multi viscosity oil, however.
2. Go Synthetic for Stress
Synthetic oil has been refined to the point where it contains fewer impurities than standard engine oil, and it also makes use of unique detergents and additives that can better protect against the stress of high RPMs on a hot summer’s day. Synthetics are also much more capable when it comes to resisting the foaming and thinning that can be caused by very high engine temperatures. More and more OEMs are specifying synthetic oil for even day to day driving due to close tolerances, high temperatures, and high pressures generated by modern engines.
In some cases if you’re hitting the race track or towing on a regular basis, one of the best summer oil choices you can make is to switch to a full-synthetic formulation.
3. Change Oil Often if Necessary
Does your summer driving regimen include dirt roads, off-road trails or gravel tracks that kick up substantial dust? If the answer is yes, then it’s likely that you’ll need to change your summer oil and oil filter more often than what the manufacturer recommends.
Your vehicle’s oil filter does its best to keep small particles of grime out of your motor, but fine dust still makes it through. To maintain the highest levels of protection, you should adopt a more aggressive oil change interval when regularly driving on dusty roads.
You also need to be honest about your driving habits. You may be shocked to find that your boring daily commute may actually put your car in the severe-duty service schedule. At that point you will need service more often than normal.
Keep an eye on your oil levels, use synthetics where necessary, and don’t prolong your oil changes if you want to enjoy a trouble-free summer and beat the heat under your hood.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on summer oil, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Pxhere.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.