Things to Know About Your Vehicle Oil System - information from the the pros at Shingle Springs Subaru serving Sacramento, CA

To many drivers, the oil system remains a mystery. Most know that oil should be changed regularly (though there are some who swear by infrequent oil changes . . . right until their engines stop working), but that's often about it. At Shingle Springs Subaru, we want to help you learn more about what your Subaru needs. With that in mind, we've put together a list of four important things that you should know about the oil system that keeps your vehicle's engine lubricated.

Oil pump

4. Parts of the Oil System

The oil system in your vehicle consists of a number of components. The oil pan is where the oil sits until it's used, and the pan is sealed to the engine by way of a gasket to keep everything contained. An oil pump is the component that's responsible for circulating oil throughout the system, and the oil filter keeps any stray sediment out of the engine. Of course, the oil needs to be accessible. A dipstick allows you to check oil levels, while the drain plug, which includes a drain plug gasket, allows you to drain old oil. Finally, the oil filler allows you to add new oil once the old oil has been drained (and the drain plug and gasket replaced). Though there may be other components (like an oil cooler), these are the basic ones that will form nearly all oil systems.

Person adding oil to an engine

3. The Right Oil Is Necessary

If you don't use the right kind of oil for your engine, improper lubrication may result, leading to potential engine damage or a shorter lifespan for the engine. When you look at a container of oil, you'll see designations like 10w-30 or 5w-20. These are measures of the oil's viscosity or weight. The lower the number, the thinner the oil. So, why the two numbers? The first one, followed by a "w," refers to the oil's viscosity at low temperatures. The "w" stands for "winter," not "weight" as many assume. The second number refers to the viscosity at engine operating temperature. While some swear by using thinner oil in the winter and thicker oil in the summer, doing so can cause problems. So, it's always best to use the type of oil required in your owner's manual.

2. Conventional or Synthetic?

These days, most engines call for synthetic oil. If you're driving a car like this, then the answer is clear: always use the required oil. However, older engines and some new ones might leave the choice up to you. In this case, we still recommend using synthetic. It's longer-lasting and better at lubricating than conventional oil, so it's generally seen as the better choice.

Person draining old oil from engine

1. Choose a Reputable Oil Change Place

We understand that going to the local chain oil change franchise may be tempting. After all, the dealership may be far away, and it seems like there's a quick-lube shop on nearly every corner! But it's always best to trust the people who have been trained to work with your Subaru and its distinctive BOXER® engine. Oil change chains like these have a long history of subpar work, from rounding the drain plug by using the wrong wrench to failing to change the oil filter. In addition, shops desperate for cash will often try to upsell you with services you don't need. At dealership service centers, like the one at Shingle Springs Subaru, your vehicle will be treated with the respect it deserves.