So, you’re a new gear head. You’re new to a world full of automotive lubricants, brake swaps, braided lines, and engine swaps.
So, where do you start? Well, to begin with, you need to start at the beginning, and knowing what lubricants are available to you is an essential first step. If any fluid could compare to a car’s lifeblood, it would be the oils, greases, and lubricants that keep everything moving.
Let’s break down every kind of lube you might run into, from the most pedestrian to the most exotic.
We’re just joking! …or are we?
Elbow grease never truly makes it into your car’s oil system (unless you’re taking the “blood, sweat, and tears” cliche a little too seriously).
Still, hard work is the reason your car keeps working day after day. So, before you read further, brush up on the regular maintenance you should be doing to your vehicle.
Next, we’re moving onto the most well-known lubricant in any car—engine oil. Engine oil services are so common that they are known only as an “oil change.” Considering how many other lubricants your car needs to work, that’s kind of wild.
Either way, an oil service is easy to do on your own, and a ton of expertise isn’t needed. Just look at the oil cap in your engine bay and buy the regular or synthetic oil that matches your oil cap’s writing.
Your cap will most likely call for 5W-30 or 5W-20, but high-performance cars will most likely take a type of oil that’s slightly more exotic.
Next, you want to pick up an oil stabilizer. An oil stabilizer is especially important if you don’t drive your car frequently.
When you add a stabilizer to your oil during an oil change, the oil in your engine will get slightly thicker and stickier. The extra thickness you gain helps the oil stick to your car’s moving components a little better.
After your car has sat for several days, most non-stabilized oils will have dripped off of your engine components.
Next time you start your engine, you’ll end up grinding the metal inside the engine until your oil reaches the right pressure. An extra layer from an oil stabilizer leaves in your car helps reduce the damage by reducing friction.
If you want to prolong the life of your engine, get a stabilizer.
Power Steering and Brake Fluids
Next up, we have the hydraulic parts of your car. First and foremost, you’re going to want to know how your brakes work.
Brake lines in a car are full of oil that doesn’t compress easily. So, when we press down on the brake pedal, all of that force is transferred directly to the brake pads.
If you’re not comfortable bleeding your brake lines, then you can disregard this section. Still, we’re aware that most people reading this will be into heavy modding and car customization. We’ll point you toward a quick tutorial on bleeding your brake lines after a fluid swap.
Power steering is a whole other beast. Most of the time, it’s not worth it to rebuild a power steering rack. Just buy a secondhand rack on eBay for a couple of hundred bucks. So, for that reason, we won’t cover power steering oil in depth.
Instead, monitor your power steering oil levels, and if they start to drop, then you know it’s time to either top off your rack or buy a new-to-you version.
The rest of these lubricants are for the serious grease monkeys, the hardened veterans who turn the shower grey with washed-off oil.
Break-in lubricants are reserved for complete rebuilds, upgraded camshafts, head gasket replacements, and more. If you’re taking apart the engine, then you’ll want to use break-in lubrication the first time you turn your engine over.
Why use break-in oil? Well, when you’ve been doing invasive labor, then every new part you put into your engine will most likely be bone dry. Without break-in oil, your engine would tear itself to pieces.
Break-in oil is a unique mixture of chemicals, polymers, and oils that are specially designed to add extra lubrication to the engine body fast AND safely. Once you’ve fired up your car and run it for a couple of hours, it’s time to do an oil swap. Drain out all your braking-in oil and replace it with 5W-30 (or an equivalent).
The oil additive development process is incredible as well. Go here to find out more about the process.
The next to last lubricant you’ll want for your car will be a good, heat-resistant bearing grease. Once you start going in-depth with your services and modifications, having high-quality grease is essential for your safety and the safety of your passengers.
Bearing grease is used to lubricate the heavy-duty bearings in your car that keep the machine moving. Bearings on your vehicle that need lubrication are located on your axels behind each wheel, in the crankshaft, and in several other places.
Whenever you work on these components, you’ll want to replace these bearings to keep your car moving smoothly. During that process, you’ll want to pack each bearing with bearing grease to keep everything moving smoothly.
Ever wonder how cars get those obnoxious, blinding white or blue lights? No, the color doesn’t come from how long they are to the ground, and it doesn’t come from the fires raging inside their engines either.
That light comes from headlight fluid! If your lights are a little too yellow, pick up some headlight oil from your local auto parts store. Your bulbs probably need lubricating, or your light is suffering from corrosion.
Just make sure to ask the shop attendant for directions because every car takes a different viscosity. Don’t believe us, just google “is headlight oil real?” You’ll see we were right pretty fast.
Fun fact, classic cars used headlight oil to make their lights more yellow back in the day. Back then, yellow was just considered more fashionable.
Do You Have All the Automotive Lubricants You Need?
So, all joking aside, do you have the automotive lubricants your car needs to run smoothly on hand? Once you do, educate yourself on the full servicing process, and you’ll be good to go.
For more great information, keep reading our blog! We’re here to answer your questions.