What Engine Oil Does My Car Need?

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 2 years ago

5 min read

  • Car ownership
  • Maintenance
Oil Check

WhoCanFixMyCar discusses different types of engine oil and how to select the right one for your vehicle.

It would certainly make life easier if all engine oils were all the same; unfortunately, as with life, this isn’t the case, and selecting the right oil for your vehicle is essential

With that in mind, we’ve created this short guide to help you work out which grade of oil your car requires. 


Which engine oil your car needs

Engine oil for specific car models

How to check your engine oil

Different types of engine oil

Average cost of an oil change

Which engine oil your car needs

The two most common grades of engine oil are 5W-30 and 5W-40. The former tends to be used in newer petrol engines, whereas the latter is more suitable for older or diesel engines. 

5W-30 and 5W-40 are compatible with many models of common cars, including the Ford Ka, Ford Focus (pictured below), VW Golf, Skoda Fabia and Honda Civic.

Ford Focus (3)

However, some other common cars (such as certain MINI Cooper and Vauxhall Astra models) recommend 0W-30 oil. While this grade is fairly similar to 5W-30, it tends to be less viscous at lower temperatures.

Vauxhall Astra

To be certain which grade of engine oil your car needs, you should always check your owner’s manual. 

Engine oil for specific car models

This information should be used as a guide only; you should still check your owner's manual before deciding which oil to buy.

Which engine oil for a Ford Fiesta?

Depending on the engine, Ford Fiestas usually require 10W40 semi-synthetic grade oil. However, the EcoBoost engine may require SAE 5W-20 synthetic oil; diesels are likely to need 5W-30.

Which engine oil for a Ford Focus?

Generally speaking, Ford Focus petrol engines use 5W-20 while 0W-20 is usually recommended for diesels.

Which engine oil for a Vauxhall Corsa?

Most Vauxhall Corsa petrol engines require 5W-30 or 10W-40. Vauxhall recommends that all oils should meet "dexos2" standard.

Which engine oil for a Volkswagen Polo?

The best oil to use will entirely depend on your engine and the year your car was produced. However, Volkswagen recommends 5W-30 for both petrol and diesel Polo engines.

Which engine oil for a Honda Jazz?

The best engine oil for a Honda Jazz is 15W-40 or 5W-40. Check your owner's manual to confirm the specification for your individual car.

Which engine oil for a Skoda Fabia?

For both petrol and diesel engines, the best oil for a Skoda Fabia is usually fully-synthetic 5W40.

Which engine oil for a Renault Clio?

For a Renault Clio the best engine oil is likely to be a good quality 5W-40, either fully synthetic or partly synthetic.

DSG oil service

How to check your engine oil

Checking your car’s engine oil is a quick and easy process that shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.

Make sure your car is parked somewhere flat and is switched off. Open the bonnet, then locate the dipstick (this is a long piece of metal with a loop on the top for you to hold). 

Pull the dipstick all the way out and wipe any oil off it with some kitchen roll or a disposable cloth.

Then, put the dipstick back, ensuring that it is pushed all the way down. 

After you’ve done this, it’s time to remove it again and check the oil level. There should be markers on the dipstick indicating an ideal oil level and a low oil level.

It’s recommended that you should change your engine oil once every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, or once a year. 

The different types of engine oil

Engine oils differ primarily due to their viscosity, which is a fancy way of saying how thick or thin they are.

Because the viscosity of oil naturally changes with temperature, engine oils are ‘multi-grade’ so they can cope with a wide range of operating temperatures.

You can find out the viscosity of a particular type of engine oil by checking the code on its packaging. For example, 5W-30 - the first part of which references the cold temperature grade, while the latter part references the high temperature grade.

To find out which grade your car requires, consult your owner’s handbook. 

In addition to having different viscosities, there are three primary categories of engine oil that you should be aware of:

  • synthetic

  • mineral

  • part-synthetic. 

Synthetic oil

Despite its name, synthetic oil still comes from the ground, but its molecular structure has been modified and refined using complex laboratory processes so that it is more durable and performs better.

Mineral oil

Mineral oil is more crude than synthetic oil but is also a lot cheaper to manufacture. It can be used perfectly well in less demanding engines, but most engine oil nowadays is synthetic.

Part synthetic 

Part synthetic oil offers a compromise between the other two types, providing much of the performance of fully synthetic oils with a significantly lower price tag.

Average cost of an oil change

Car ManufacturerAverage Cost

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