If you're like us, you work on your Mopar yourself, performing oil changes and other routine maintenance in the garage or driveway where you live. And while accomplishing such work can be rewarding, a trip to the auto parts store to select the oil for your car can be a frustrating experience. There are literally hundreds of oil types, brands, and viscosities to choose from these days, and picking the right one for your car depends on many factors. This month we'll try to simplify things for you a little, and give you the information you'll need to choose the right lubricant for the engine in your Mopar.

Why Worry About Oil?
Much like the heart and blood of the human circulatory system, the oil pump and oil in your engine is critical to the engine's life expectancy. Engine oil serves three distinct purposes, and must do each very well to offer the maximum protection and performance. First, pressurized, sprayed, and residual oil lubricates critical internal engine components, preventing metal to metal contact and wear. Next, the oil cools the engine, trapping heat from hot spots like the valve guides, pistons, and rod bearings, and dissipating it through contact with cooler areas such as the oil pan. Thirdly, the oil cleans the engine by suspending contaminants that are removed through filtration and oil changes, keeping the engine free from deposits and protected from corrosion.

Technology has certainly evolved since the invention of the automobile, and this evolution is no more apparent than in one of the most technical parts of the car, the engine. Today's automotive engines offer great power and durability, while using a fraction of the fuel, and creating a fraction of the emissions when compared to musclecars of the past. While modern electronic fuel injection is responsible for some of these improvements, accurate machining and modern internal engine parts account for a portion of this efficiency as well, allowing the use of thinner oils to promote power. And although the engines in our Mopar muscle cars are still pretty old, the rings, bearings, seals, and machining techniques used to rebuild them are more like those utilized in cars manufactured today, so a modern engine oil might be a better choice for your older car.

Luckily, most catastrophic engine failures are not caused by using the improper oil, but rather due to oil starvation. No type of oil can compensate for an inadequate or poorly maintained oil system or for a worn out engine, so the first step in ensuring engine durability is to have a healthy engine, the proper oil capacity, and sufficient pumping power for the intended use of your engine. A windage tray and high capacity pan will help prevent oil starvation, and for racing engines the oil pan should have acceleration, cornering, and braking baffles or an aftermarket pan. So assuming the oil system of your engine is adequate for the intended use and operating properly, your engine probably won't fail catastrophically regardless of which oil you choose.

Though oil selection generally won't cause your engine to blow up, choosing the right oil can affect horsepower, and will definitely determine how long your engine will last. So if you plan to keep your car for a while (and who doesn't) choosing the proper oil can ensure that your engine will perform well and last a long time, and can even keep costs down when the time comes for a rebuild. So now that we know a little more about the purposes of engine oil, let's discuss what engine oil really is and the different types you might choose for your car.