How To Read Engine Oil Grades?

Thread Starter #1
Sep 18, 2009
I was searching on some details on "Selenia 5W-40" engine oil which is used in my Punto.
I found some interesting things -

How do I read the numbers around the 'W'? For example 5W40?

Single grade oils get too thin when hot for most modern engines which is where multigrade oil comes in. The idea is simple - use science and physics to prevent the base oil from getting as thin as it would normally do when it gets hot. There's more detail on this later in the page under both viscosity, and SAE ratings. But as a quick primer - the number before the 'W' is the 'cold' viscosity rating of the oil, and the number after the 'W' is the 'hot' viscosity rating. So a 5W40 oil is one which behaves like a 5-rated single grade oil when cold, but doesn't thin any more than a 40-rated single grade oil when hot. The lower the 'winter' number (hence the 'W'), the easier the engine will turn over when starting in cold climates.

A quick guide to the different grades of oil.

Source and Other details on engine oils - Car Bible

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