Do you have to use the manufacturer’s engine oil?

Engine oil, also known as motor oil or engine lubricant, lubricates the internal combustion engine, making sure it remains cool while meeting the increased emissions regulations. It reduces friction in moving parts, which would otherwise cause wear and damage as well as rust corrosion.

Often, car manufacturers recommend two or more motor oils with different viscosities depending on several factors such as temperature and the vehicle’s operating conditions.  It is advisable always to use the manufacturer’s engine oil to prevent premature engine problems.

Here are some more important reasons why the manufacturer’s engine oil is essential.

Sets the standard

Several standards set by various bodies, such as the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) standards, American Petroleum Institute (API) service category, Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobile (ACEA), and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) viscosity grade, should be observed by engine oil.

using the manufacture's engine oil

ILSAC standards and API service category are quite similar, except ILSAC standards put more emphasis on the benefits of fuel efficiency. These two regulatory bodies measure the oils ability to clean, lubricate, protect, and cool internal components.

The latest new API service category is SN for gasoline power plants. For ILSAC standards, it is GF-5, which is rated together with API’s SN to indicate that oils have met gasoline-engine requirements of most major car manufacturers.

ACEA standards are the European equivalent to API. These stringent standards determine the level of fuel efficiency when used in car engines. The latest ACEA sequence is C for light-duty diesel engines and catalyst-equipped gasoline, and E for heavy-duty diesel engines.

SAE viscosity grade determines how oil will flow in certain temperatures. Typically, the viscosity grade of modern engines is OW 20. Engines with high tolerance levels require ‘thin oil’ which maintains its viscosity when hot and flows smoothly when cold.

By using the manufacturer’s engine oil that meets all these industry standards, your vehicle’s engine will have optimum performance, minimize exhaust emissions, and maximize efficiency, thus lasting for a long time.

Meets manufacturer’s requirements

Apart from the industry standards described above, nearly all vehicle and engine-manufacturers require specific oils that have undergone a set of proprietary tests to ensure they have met their specifications.

These requirements are in your owner’s manual, and vehicle owners are only allowed to use oils that meet these requirements, in addition to API, ILSAC, SAE, and ACEA standards.

engine oil sandards

General Motors (GM), a leading automotive manufacturer, necessitate that 2011 and newer model vehicles use oils that meet dexos specifications.  These specifications were developed by GM to assist them in meeting fuel economy standards and government-mandated emissions.

If you go for an oil change at the dealer, they would probably recommend a GM-owned oil brand. There are also some fully-synthetic or semi-synthetic oils that meet dexos specifications.

Claim manufacturer’s warranty

Most modern cars require full-or semi-synthetic oils to meet industry standards as well as the manufacturer’s requirements. Using oil that does not meet the manufacturer’s standards may result in a poorly performing engine, whose repairs you cannot claim in the new car’s warranty.

You do not need to always go for an oil change at your dealership. However, it is necessary to monitor the type of oil put in your engine to ensure it agrees with the automaker’s specifications.

Often, there are numerous engine oils available in the marketplace that aligns with the standards in your owner’s manual. It is upon you to read and familiarize yourself with the proprietary specifications listed on the oil container. Some automakers provide a list of acceptable oils in their service literature.

Do I have to use Dexos oil?

Dexos engine oil standards are a formulation of GM Powertrain engineers as a global standard for GM engines.  General Motors is a top automaker with leading vehicle models such as the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC in their portfolio.

general motors engine oil

Dexos is designed to extend the vehicle’s life, increase fuel efficiency, maximize the effectiveness of the vehicle’s emissions system, and reduce oil changes. These standards have types of oil specifications; dexos1 for gasoline-powered engines and dexos2 for diesel-powered engines.

GM requires its 2011 vehicle models and onwards to use Dexos oil or dexos-licensed oils throughout their lifetime. Older GM models may also use this oil for reliable and durable engines. It is important to note that no conventional motor oil meets Dexos oil requirements. You will then need semi- or full- synthetic lubricants for your vehicle, which are dexos-licensed.


Modern car engines have tight tolerance. If the manufacturer recommends specific engine oils, those are the essential oils to use for your engine. Failure to adhere to your manufacturer’s stringent requirements may cause wear and damage to your engine. Luckily, some automakers like Audi also give you a list of alternative engine oils compatible with your vehicle.

Engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. Many motor oils in the market claim to provide optimum performance for your engine. Making sure that these oils agree with the requirements in your owner’s manual will save you an unnecessary chain of terrible events. Choosing the right oil additives for your engine is also crucial when selecting the ideal engine oil.

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