Which Engine Oil Should I Use?


Hi John,

I  enjoy your radio show on 2UE and I listen with enthusiasm to it. You sound very knowledgeable. May I ask about your trade background ? I have recently purchased a new Suzuki. Could you steer me towards a good brand of motor oil?

Secondly 18 yrs ago, we (Ford dealership) used to change the motor oil on customers' cars after the first 1500 or 5000km. I have been advised (by Suzuki sales dept) that I do not have to change current motor oil until 10,000km.

Your knowledgeable opinion is greatly appreciated.

Kind regards, peter


Hi Peter,

Thanks for the kind words. I have a degree in mechanical engineering. (I've never been a tradie, but I have pulled a lot of cars apart and, importantly, managed to get them back together again.

The important thing here isn't brand - it's specification. All the credible brands of oil are AOK to use - provided they meet the specification laid out in the owner's manual. I'm talking Castrol (oils ain't oils), Valvoline (Know what I mean?), Mobil, Shell, etc. These are the brands you know and trust. It's unthinkable they'd do a bad job. It's vital to get that specification right, so if the manual says 10W40 - that's what you must use.

Despite what the marketing gurus claim, oils are oils - provided you get the specification right and choose one of a dozen reputable manufacturers

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You cannot hurt the car by changing the oil more frequently than the service schedule advises. If it makes you feel better to replace the oil and the filter at 1500km (or 5000km) it absolutely won't hurt - and it might help a little. Make sure you watch the time on the servicing schedule - most cars need servicing at six monthly intervals, simply because they don't do high enough kays to cover the required distance in under six months. (Some have 12-month intervals.) The important thing to remember is stick to the distance or the time - whichever comes first. (Short trips are a lot worse for your engine and your oil than long trips.)

I have spoken to many independent mechanics who tell me they change the oil in their own cars every three months - but I cannot know if this boosts the life of their engines because oil technology has improved dramatically since the days of three-monthly/5000km servicing intervals. Once again it can't hurt.

I hope this helps.