One of the most important things protecting your engine from going kaput is its lubricant. Your engine oil is the first and most important line of defense to protect it from seizing up. Smaller engines like on bikes etc. can run without cooling, but can’t operate at all without an engine oil. There were cars with an air-cooled engine that could run without any issue. All they needed was a proper engine oil.
But there are few things you need to keep in mind before buying your next engine oil. I am not going into the debate of which company makes the best oil. Companies like Shell, ZIC and Caltex all make excellent engine oils. Use whatever you prefer. But the thing you should keep in mind is the viscosity of an engine oil. Here is how the viscosity of oils works:
The simplest rule to understand the rating is higher the rating, thicker the oil, lower the rating thinner the oil. All viscosity oils provide lubrication when the engine is running and are suitable for high-speed travel (except those that are made for running in icy conditions). But it is the starting friction you need to worry about. When the engine is cold, and you crank the engine, how thick or thin the oil is going to affect the motor. Since it is quite cold in most parts of the country, it is advisable to use oils with slightly thinner viscosity. People usually use thicker oils in older cars to counter any sort of leakage from the engine. Also, many not notice this, but engine oils affect the fuel consumption of your car quite a bit as well. If you are using thick oil like 20W-50 in your engine and switch to thinner oil like 5W-30, you will find your car to give more mileage in the same quantity of fuel.
If you have used ZIC oils, you will see boldly written on the ZIC A+ (5W-20) and ZIC XQ (5W-40) saying it provides improved fuel economy. Both of those oils are thinner than their ZIC HiFlo (20W-50) and ZIC A (10W-40). ZIC company changed the names and packing of your oils couple of months ago. Now they are sold under X series name.
Shell has been operating in Pakistan for quite some time now. Years and years ago, I remember all they had were two types of oils for petrol cars, the red bottle one and the yellow bottle one. And then there was their Rimula engine oils for diesel cars. Now they have a wide variety of engine oils, from petrol car and bike oils to heavy duty diesel oils for heavy machinery. If you own a new car, their Helix Ultra is the best oil available in the market. It is fully synthetic and has a great all-season viscosity. It is perfect for our local environment and provides great overall protection.
Let’s talk about motorbikes as well. I am talking about your regular 70/100/125/150 cc bikes that you see on roads all the time, and not those R1s and GSXRs. Those smaller bikes being air cooled need excellent oil lubrication for giving you reliable service. A decade or so ago, I remember Honda 125 owners using Caltex 1-liter oil for their bikes because it was considered the best at that time. Or you had Castrol 1-liter packing as well. It used to be your regular 20W-50 grade oil. Since I myself own a bike now, I see a lot more of those options than before. Currently, I am using ZIC 4T motorbike oil. Its viscosity is 10W-40. Oil in bike has to do a lot more than what it does in car’s engine. In your car, its primary job is to keep the pistons pumping without seizing up. In motorbikes, your oil not only lubricates the piston but also keep the gearbox wet. And thirdly, it works as a coolant as well because it dissipates heat on a standing bike. When a bike is in motion, the fins on the engine head keep dissipating the heat. But when you are stuck in a traffic jam especially in Pakistan’s usual extreme summers, the oil running through the engine makes sure you are not stranded on the side of the road with a broken down bike.
Learn more about motor oils here!
As I mentioned above, I am using ZIC 4T, before that, I used Valvoline 4T, and it is slightly thicker in viscosity (20W-50) than ZIC 4T or Caltex 4T (both are 10W-40). I believe those bike riders living in the areas that are under the attack of cold-wave nowadays in Pakistan should think about using 10W-40 oils in winters. It will help you not only kick start the bike easier in the morning but will also give you better fuel economy considering your engine gets cold with the already quite cold air when riding. You don’t need thicker oils in winters in your bikes. The thinner it is, the easier it is for the engine to start pumping the oil as soon you start your bike.