All engines need oil; but, not all oils are created equal, and figuring out which one is right for your car can be hard to decipher. Audra Fordin translates for us in this week’s “Your Drive.”

AUDRA FORDIN: The work motor oil does in your engine is second to none. If the oil level decreases or become contaminated there is much more heat that builds up and is produced inside of the engine because of lack of lubrication; which causes parts in your engine to wear, parts to warp, gets pitted, and even melts.

So, why is an oil change important? To answer that question, first, you need to understand that motor oil and motor oil filter go together like shoes and socks. The oil filter filters out and removed any debris that’s flowing through the engine and it is designed to last the lifecycle of an oil change at a minimum. So, you should always change your oil filter when you’re due for a motor oil change.

The motor oil has many jobs; and, yes, it is very busy. Motor oil cleans and protects the engine and all of the moving parts, it keeps your engine cool, and keeps all of the valvetrain components well lubricated. There are different kinds of motor oil as well. You have conventional motor oil, which is crude oil from the ground where all the molecules are different sizes; you have a synthetic blend of motor oil, which is a blend of oil, so it’s important to read the ingredients of the bottle. And this is, of course, better than conventional motor oil; but, it’s still a blend. You have high mileage motor oil, which is for cars that have, like, 100,000 miles-plus and/or tow heavy loads. And synthetic motor oil, which is now man-made in a laboratory. And the beauty of this is that the molecules are all the same size so the oil burns more clean. Note: You do not need to be brand specific. What you do need to be is using the specific grade of oil that the manufacturer demands for your car.

No, this is not a ploy to make money on you. This is actually the best way to keep your engine in great condition and to live a long life. You can find the specific viscosity for your type of oil by looking underneath your hood at your oil cap, in your owner’s manual or you could find it online.

Now, if you do your own oil changes, please be sure to recycle your oil in the proper container. It is mandated by law, and all service centers accept used motor oil. And please, don’t mix your fluids. It’s the right thing to do for the environment.

If you have any questions or comments, reach out to us right here at MotorWeek.