I was reading up on oil grades in wikipedia and was wondering what the operating temperatures are for the various oil grades.

I'm wondering since the area I live in is a pretty Mediterranean climate where it only gets down to barely freezing maybe two or three weeks a year, is in the 40's F to 50's F the rest of the winter ( about 3 months ) and most the rest of the year is in the 70's to 90's.

  • 1
    I'm not sure exactly what you are wanting to know, but this site may provide some answers for you. It has a lot of (mostly) fact about oil. Oct 6, 2014 at 18:50
  • You really need to be more specific about your application. For example, my turbo car makes a lot of heat but the ambient temperature didn't get very high this year. Likewise, it doesn't get terribly cold. Please provide some more info about your specific vehicle.
    – Bob Cross
    Oct 6, 2014 at 22:03
  • @BobCross This is both a general question out of curiosity and a little specific regarding my car, which is a 1.8L Mazda 323 Lantis 1997. Oct 7, 2014 at 6:14
  • @Paulster2 You should write a short summary and make that link an answer, it seems to be exactly what I was looking for. Oct 7, 2014 at 11:42

2 Answers 2


There are a lot of misconceptions about oil, in fact when I first came on this site, I proposed this question over on meta because, having dealt with regular forums, I know the topic of oil is more myth than it is fact or science. To that end, there is a site/forum out there which deals specifically with motor oil. I believe most of the information found there is probably correct ... if you stay away from the forums (forums bring opinion, even well intentioned ones). There is a specific part of the site which is called Motor Oil University which describes in detail the way oil "works", how it is described, and what all the numbers/symbols mean on the can. I believe it answers your questions about oil, but is way too long to repost here.

  • as helpful as this extended citation/discussion is, it's not really an answer, nor does it even provide any framework for an answer.
    – mac
    Oct 8, 2014 at 20:18

What's important to protecting your engine is having the correct oil viscosity under the anticipated operating conditions (most importantly anticipated oil temperatures). As Bob Cross pointed out, these operating conditions (oil temperatures) are as much a product of the design of the engine as they are a product of the ambient temperature.

As such you won't find a generic chart of suitable ambient temperatures for different grades of oil.

It is, however, very common to find an application-specific chart of recommended oil viscosities for different ambient temperatures in the owners manual for a vehicle.

Paulster2's link to Motor Oil University at BobIsTheOilGuy is definitely a good reference for further reading on the subject.

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