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When you go in for a BMW service, you probably book it in and let the professionals handle it all. It’s their job to know the intricacies of the products and vehicles they work on, so why should you worry? The answer is simple – when you lay down an investment in a performance vehicle, it is your responsibility to at very least understand the importance of keeping your car in good running condition. This includes knowing what gas to use, what tires to have, and what oil is right for your vehicle.
The engine in a BMW is made up of certain metal compounds that can only work if synthetic oils are used. Synthetic oils, although more expensive, allow for a longer traveling distance before having to replace it. The purpose of the oil is to lubricate, protect, cool and clean the engine while the car is running. The American Petroleum Institute (API) classifies the oils into one of two categories, ‘S’ or ‘C’. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) uses a number to represent the thickness of an oil, which will vary between cars according to specific factors. These terms will be explained in greater detail below, however help can always be found at Foreign Affairs Motorsport – South Florida’s Premier German Auto Repair, Performance & Race Facility since 1978.
Understanding Oil Specifications
API classifies the oil according to whether it is suitable for ‘S’, gasoline, or ‘C’, diesel. These letters are then followed by another letter. The further down the alphabet the letter, the more recent the technology of the oil. Viscosity is a term that is frequently used to classify engine oils. It refers to how quickly the oil flows through the motor at around 212 degrees Fahrenheit, also known as the engine operating temperature. With the understanding that thinner oils move faster through the engine, engineers design engines according to specific oil viscosities. SAE represents this viscosity with a number, the smaller the number, the thinner the oil. The oil composition may change in different temperatures, introducing the need for single grade and multigrade oils.
Single Grade vs Multigrade Oils
Multigrade oils are specifically designed to have two different flows. The one is for when the engine is cold and the other for when it is warm. An example of how SAE would represent this viscosity would be SAE 10W- 30. While the ‘W’ refers to winter, the number before it represents the viscosity of the oil when the engine is cold and the number after it is for when it is warm. Although there are some machines that use single grade oil, multigrade oil ensures protection of your engine, whether it is hot or cold.
Choosing the Right Brand
With technology that is ever changing, there are many different oil brands on the shelf and it could become stressful trying to pick the right one. Lucky for you, BMW has created a list of different brands and types of oils that will ensure the smooth running of your car. The API should have a rating of SM or higher, while the SAE grade of the oil will depend solely on the within which you live.
- BMW TwinPower Turbo Engine Oils
- Mobil 1 SAE 0W-40
- Valvoline SynPower SAE 5W-30
- Castrol Syntec European Formula SAE 0W-30
Multigrade oils are used in cars, to ensure that your car is protected, especially when traveling to cities where the sun is not always shining. Although, at first glance, the letters and numbers seem daunting, the above knowledge should help to clear things up a bit. The API rating needs to be SM or higher, while the SAE grading will vary according to your climate, as well as the year model of your car.
If you are still a bit nervous when choosing the brand and type of oil that your car would benefit from most, give Foreign Affairs Motorsport a call. Our master technicians in everything BMW will be able to help put your mind at ease and keep your BMW maintained.