Best Motor Oils For Cold Weather: Keep Your Car Running During The Winter
When it comes to cold weather, these top oils are the best for your vehicle
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
Oil is essential to keep a car running smoothly and at peak performance. It lubricates, enhances, and protects the engine. There are many different oils on the market, but not all of them are created equally. If you live in a climate where the weather gets especially chilly, you need a specific type of oil for your vehicle. Our buying guide below includes our top picks.
This oil is full-synthetic and helps provide great overall lubrication and wear protection for your vehicle’s engine.
While aiding in the fuel economy, this oil also has great low-temperature capabilities. In cold weather, it helps your vehicle to start up faster.
This oil, unfortunately, cannot be used on European cars like BMW and Mercedes. If you are driving a turbo-charged car, it is best to change it every 4K miles versus 5K.
This full-synthetic blend of motor oil gives your vehicle’s engine protection upon start, warm-up, and more.
It features “intelligent molecules” that cling to the engine, even after the vehicle has been shut off. This provides an extra layer of protection for the engine.
For vehicles with much higher mileage, this oil doesn’t stand up to similar brands. It does not have very many anti-sludge detergents.
This oil helps maintain fuel efficiency and is also effective at keeping your engine clean from sludge.
This oil provides 50 percent more wear protection than most other motor oils. It works wonderfully in any weather, but especially during the winter. It provides faster oil flow at startup.
The oil is a little thin and can lose its viscosity pretty quickly. This is especially true for higher mileage vehicles. It can also get dirty fast.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Motor Oil for Cold Weather
- Easier engine starting. Conventional oils lose their free-flowing abilities during cold weather. Starting the car during the cold weather is, therefore, harder when using these engine oils. Conversely, synthetic oils are thin, even during the winter, making it easier to crank the engine faster.
- Cheaper car service. At face value, conventional oil may appear cheaper than the synthetic motor oil used during winter. But with conventional oils, you may need to change the motor oil more frequently. Synthetic oils have a much longer interval between oil changes—typically 7,500-10,000 miles—which is cheaper in the long run.
- Engine protection. Because of its low viscosity, the oil is quite efficient in engine protection. Immediately after the engine starts, oil smoothly flows to the critical part of the engine. The low viscosity is what protects direct contact between engine parts, prolonging the engine life.
- Fuel economy. Fuel combustion is faster when you use low viscosity motor oil. This boosts your car performance, improving miles per gallon gasoline usage. As long as gas prices don’t rise, you will notice the amount of money you spend on fuel going down in the long run.
Types of Motor Oil for Cold Weather
Full Synthetic Oil
This oil is made with a lot of stringent considerations. It contains low impurities and has additives that help in cleaning the engine. It has low viscosity, even in cold weather, allowing for easy engine starting during winter. The smooth flow of the motor oil protects the engine from wear and tear, enhancing engines and making them last longer.
Synthetic Blend Oil
These are oils that are a mixture of synthetic and organic oils. They are formulated to provide for heavy loaded engines in cold weather. The oils evaporate less, which increases engine efficiency and fuel economy. The blending reduces the oil cost, and they are a favorite for SUV and truck users to protect their engines when the truck is loaded.
Higher Mileage Oil
If you own an old car, this may be the oil for your engine. This oil has been formulated with the aim of preventing motor oil leaks in aging engines. The active ingredients penetrate oil seals, restoring them and making them more leak proof. Your old car will start and work better in cold weather.
Located in Fairfax County, Va., Mobil is an American oil company. It merged with Exxon in 1999 to form the parent global brand, ExxonMobil. Mobil has some of the most popular motor oil for cold-weather products in the market today. Among these are Mobil 1 Synthetic Motor Oil and Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage Formula Motor Oil.
A British automotive lubricant maker, Castrol is headquartered in Pangbourne, UK. From its humble beginnings in the 1900s, it has managed to spread its business globally. Notably, it has been a key supplier and sponsor of Formula One teams. One of its frontline cold weather motor oils is Castrol GTX Magnatec 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil.
Founded in 1866, Valvoline is a brand in the motor oil industry. Having its headquarters in Kentucky, it is the second-largest provider of oil change services in the U.S. Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil is one of its notable products.
Motor Oil for Cold Weather Pricing
- Under $15: In this category, you will find cheap synthetic oils that have been blended with conventional motor oil. The stability of their viscosity during the winter season is unreliable.
- $15 to $25: Most synthetic oils fall under this price category. They are effective in protecting engines during the cold weather.
- Above $25: These are specialty oils. They have a higher mileage interval before an oil change—usually 7,500 miles.
Interval Between Oil Changes
How long you should wait between oil changes is one of the important factors when buying motor oil for cold weather in your car. Some oils are blended with conventional oils and are not fully synthetic. As a rule of thumb, your engine should run a minimum of 7,500miles before changing when using synthetic oils.
This is the measure of how free-flowing the motor oil is at different temperatures. Viscosity is measured by an SAE number, which is a standard established by the U.S. Society of Automotive Engineering. Low viscosity synthetic oil maintains the same level of thickness, even in winter weather, which extends the engine life.
You should look out for cold weather motor oils that have added ingredients. It is a standard practice for major oil makers to include these components in their oil formulation. They include antioxidants, viscosity index improvers, and anti-corrosion agents. These agents, when mixed well, can improve engine performance and keep its optimum performance, even at low temperatures.
- Fuel economy. Over time, car engines accumulate sludge from impurities in conventional oils. This clogs the engine, reducing its efficiency. Quality motor oil for cold weather should do a thorough job of cleaning the engine’s internal parts, making them function seamlessly. A smooth running engine uses less gasoline, improving your car fuel efficiency.
- Compatibility. Not all engines are fit for cold weather motor oils in the market. You should properly read your owner’s manual to find out if the features on the oil you are about to buy are compatible with your car’s engine model. It is important to know if the motor oil is formulated for gas or diesel engines, too.
- Age of your car. Knowing the age of your car engine should help in selecting the appropriate engine motor oil. Compared to blended oil products, your old car engine will benefit tremendously from fully synthetic motor oil products. They induce motor oil rejuvenating properties on gaskets and oil seals, making them swell and prevent oil leaks.
Best Oils For Cold Weather Reviews and Recommendations 2020
- When selecting a motor oil for your vehicle, take into account the type of car that you drive. If you drive a truck versus a sedan or an SUV, you may need a certain type of oil. Consult your vehicle’s manual.
- Always keep track of when your vehicle’s last oil change was, and maintain a good oil change schedule. By doing this, you are taking care of your vehicle. When you do that, your vehicle will take care of you.
- Research the best motor oil for your vehicle before purchasing to make sure that you are getting a good quality oil. Not all oils are created the same, and purchasing an inexpensive oil could cause more problems for your vehicle.
Q: How do I know which oil is best for colder weather?
A: The “W” behind the number actually stands for “winter.” The lower the number, the better that oil is in colder temperatures.
Q: Should oil for colder weather be thicker or thinner?
A: The numbers before the “W” on oil containers (i.e. 10W-30) stand for the thickness or viscosity of the oil. In the winter, lower numbers, which mean thinner oil, are best because the oil flows much more easily through the engine.
Q: Is full-synthetic oil the best type to use?
A: In general, if you can get a full-synthetic oil for your vehicle, it is the best. It stands up to cold weather very well and contains fewer impurities.
Overall, the best motor oil for cold weather is Mobil 1 Synthetic Motor Oil. It helps to keep your engine clean and running well.
Our pick for the best value is Castrol GTX MAGNATEC 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil.