Motor Oil 101
Motor oil's role
Modern motor oil is a highly specialized product carefully developed by engineers and chemists. An engine depends on the motor oil to permit easy starting, lubricate engine parts and prevent wear, reduce friction, protect against rust and corrosion, keep engine parts clean, minimize combustion chamber deposits, cool engine parts, and protect emissions systems.
Motor oil circulates through your engine and collects many kinds of contaminants that cause engine wear and damage. The oil and the oil filter help remove these contaminants and periodically need to be changed. Check your owner's manual to see which type of oil and oil filter are recommended for your vehicle's engine.
Changing Your Motor Oil
Your owner's manual will tell you how often you should change your engine's oil. If you need an oil change, it's a simple task that is vital to the overall health of your vehicle's engine.
Your vehicle stores its motor oil in an oil pan typically bolted underneath the engine block. This oil pan is designed to hold a specific amount of oil, and it's important to check the oil periodically to make sure the oil level is within the range recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Typically, this means you should keep the oil level between the MIN and MAX lines on the dipstick. If it's low (below the MIN line on most dipsticks), then you should add oil as explained in your vehicle owner's manual or maybe consider getting an oil change.
Remember, oil level is important in an engine. Too much oil (above the MAX line) may cause parts of the crankshaft to dip into the oil and churn air into it, causing foaming/oil pressure fluctuation. Low oil levels (below the MIN line) can result in excessively high oil temperatures, since engine heat is more concentrated. An oil level that is too high or too low can also increase oil consumption.
MOM Helps You Meet Manufacturer Recommendations
Check your owner's manual to see which viscosity grade and performance level is right for your vehicle's engine. Manufacturers often recommend oils licensed by API as these oils have been rigorously tested to ensure they meet API's engine oil standards.
The MOM mark will help identify oil change locations committed to providing motor oil meeting these standards. To find a MOM-certified oil change location near you, click here.
MOM Helps Ensure Your Engine and Emissions Systems Function at Their Best
You probably know the basics of caring for your engine, but you might not know about the potential damage that could result from using motor oil that fails to meet industry-established motor oil standards. Using motor oil that's not up to API's standards could compromise a vehicle's performance over time.
To avoid substandard oils, look for motor oil that displays the API quality marks —the API Certification Mark "Starburst," the API Certification Mark "Shield" and the API Service Symbol "Donut." All three symbols can be found on the labels of API-licensed motor oils.
MOM Helps Encourage Quality Throughout the Motor Oil Distribution Process
MOM is getting the word out on the importance of using the right oil in your engine, but it also is trying to assure oil quality from the marketer all the way down to the consumer. MOM is accomplishing this through API licensing programs for motor oil distributors and oil change locations. To become licensed, distributors and oil change locations have to demonstrate to API that they meet an API chain-of-custody standard. Licensed distributors and installers also must submit to an auditing process to ensure the motor oils they deliver and install are the right oils.
The program will hold oil distributors and oil change locations accountable if they're not up to MOM standards. Industry members and consumers are encouraged to notify API about questionable products. To report a problem, submit our online form.