What oil should I choose for my van?
With such an array of van engine oils available, if you need a top up or change it’s important you can choose with confidence.
First things first, if you’re unsure of the type and grade of oil your van needs, you can find out in your owner’s manual. Alternatively, use Total’s quick and easy online tool, Lub Advisor.
It’s important you don’t just grab the first oil to hand. The wrong oil can mean the difference between protecting your engine and costly damage, so it’s well worth taking the time to find understand engine oils and the key things to look out for when choosing oil for your van.
Oil types explained
The main forms of engine oil are synthetic, mineral and semi-synthetic, but what’s the difference and how do you know which one your van should use?
Mineral van oils
Mineral van oils are crude oil-based lubricants that have been refined to remove impurities and undesirable hydrocarbons. They are often used in classic and vintage vans given they are thicker and better sealing, but don’t feature the performance-enhancing features newer vehicles require, such as in synthetic oils.
Synthetic van oils
Synthetic van oils feature far fewer contaminants and many more additives than mineral oils, and in many cases, feature completely man-made lubricating molecules. Thinner and more viscous than mineral van oils, their additives can help fight wear, corrosion, foaming and sludge formation – properties generally absent from mineral van oils. Many new vans, particularly high-performance models, need synthetic van oil.
Semi-synthetic van oils
Semi-synthetic van oils fall between mineral oils and fully synthetic oils. They offer good performance and protection but are not as highly advanced as the best synthetic lubricants on the market.
Viscosity grades indicate the viscosity of van oils. There are two key grade types:
- Monograde van oils, which feature a single number. There are monograde oils for summer driving (noted as ‘SAE x’) and winter driving (SAE xW), so different oils should be used at different times of the year – SAE 0W in winter or SAE 30 in summer, for example.
- Multigrade van oils, which have both a winter and summer number, (xWx, respectively) such as 5W30 or 15W40.
Winter numbers (xW), indicate the van oil’s viscosity at -17.7°C (0°F) – lower numbers equal less thickening in cold temperatures. Summer numbers (x/Wx) denote oil flow at 100°C, with higher numbers having better resistance to thinning in hot conditions.
As such, the greater the difference between the two numbers, the greater the oil’s resistance to temperatures throughout the year, making 5W40 oil better performing than 10W30 oil, for instance.
Understanding ACEA engine oil specifications
There are also European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) grades to consider. ACEA grade letters are used to note the engine type the lubricant is used for:
- A – For petrol passenger cars and light-duty vans, with higher numbers indicating better performance and drain intervals (A3) and fuel economy and drain intervals (A5).
- B – For diesel engines, with higher numbers indicating improved performance (B3), use with direct injection (B4) or fuel economy and extended drain intervals (B5).
- C – Low-SAPS oils for modern diesel engines with particulate filters, designed for low-viscosity oils. C1 equals 0.5% ash and increased fuel efficiency; C2 for 0.8% ash, fuel efficiency and improved performance; and C3 for 0.8% ash.
- E – Oils for heavy-duty diesel engines, with higher numbers denoting improved performance, drain intervals and emissions performance.
How van engine oils impact fuel economy
It’s important not to let the retail price of oil be the single determining factor when choosing a lubricant, as longer-term financial benefits are also at play. For instance, overly viscous oils will struggle to quickly flow throughout your van’s engine when it’s cold, meaning your engine must work much harder to circulate it, reducing fuel economy. Conversely, if you pick a cheap oil which lacks viscosity, it won’t provide enough protection for your components, increasing wear and the potential for costly replacements.
If you’re looking for ways reduce fuel costs, look for the Fuel Economy (FE) badge on TOTAL QUARTZ products. With these oils, the interaction between oil molecules is increased, creating a super-resistant molecular structure that offers improved economy.