I have reviewed best oils for cars with over 200000 in the last section of this guide. So, if you’re in a hurry, you can skip to the last section. I use Valvoline Max Life in my high-mileage Honda CRV. It has covered over 150,000 miles and is still running smoothly. I didn’t face rough idling issues. Moreover, I also take care to replace engine oil every 5000 to 7000 miles.
Finding the best oil for cars with over 200,000 miles can be very difficult and time-consuming as most of the oils on the market don’t work on vehicles with that much mileage. Cars over 200,000 miles are considered high-mileage and older vehicles. In high-mileage vehicles with older engines, clearances between engine parts increase which can cause excessive oil leakage into the engine, resulting in oil burning. As a result, cars with over 200,000 miles are also seen with white smoke or black smoke coming out of the exhaust. All this happens thanks to using the same type of oil you have been using since the car purchase.
It is essential to keep your engine oil changed regularly in the older engines to ensure that it is always fresh and clean. It prevents corrosion, helps prevent the high-mileage engine from seizing up, and ensures that the engine runs smoothly. The life span of a car depends on the quality of the engine oil used in it. The quality of the engine oil depends on the kind of oil that is used.
Before diving further, I would recommend you first read my guide on the best oil for 3.5 Ecoboost. Even if you don’t have Ford Ecoboost, I have explained some important terminologies and concepts related to engine oils in that guide.
Also Read: How far can you drive on min engine oil
Table of Contents
Why Regular Replacing of Engine Oil Is Important For Cars With Over 200000 Miles?
A regular oil change is very important for cars with over 200,000 miles. The reason is simple. The longer the engine runs without changing its oil, the greater the chances of a serious engine problem occurring. When engine oil is used for a long time, it forms sludge. This can damage the engine and even make it stop working. As a result, the car won’t start or drive smoothly.
Furthermore, when an engine runs without changing its oil, it can cause the lubrication system to become contaminated with dirt and other foreign materials. As a result, the engine may not be able to properly burn fuel, which will mean that the car won’t run efficiently. To ensure that your high-mileage vehicle runs smoother, you should change the oil after every 5K to 8K miles.
Should I Use Thicker Oil In A High Mileage Engine?
If you’re observing that the engine oil is burning off through the piston rings or the engine is consuming a lot of oil due to the bad gasket or seal, you should use thicker oil in your high-mileage vehicle to avoid subsequent damage. However, if the engine is supplied with motor oil with a different viscosity than what the manufacturer recommends, the variable valve timing system will be unable to function properly, and this will lead to increased fuel consumption and reduced power.
Here is what a car owner with over 200,000 miles of engine says:
“If your engine is still working well, it should not suck oil. When it is not sucking oil, you don’t need to switch to a thicker oil. I still used 5w-30, the same oil thickness that was used since the car was brand new 11 years ago for 330.000 km or 200.000 miles.”
Another user on the forum says this:
“Still running 5w-30 in my Cavalier with 334K+ miles on it and it runs like new. I’m actually considering trying out a 0w-20 or 0w-30 this winter.”
Note that by thicker oil, I am not saying to switch to the oil of higher viscosity grade. That can be extremely bad for the engine. You can go for the high-mileage oils I have discussed in the next section.
Whether you should need thicker oil for your high-mileage engine also depends on the manufacturer of the car. From one person, I heard that his Mercedes is still running on the original specs engine oil after covering 383,000 miles. On the other hand, Non-German cars often already consume some oil by that mileage.
So, if you are not observing any white-bluish smoke from the car and there has been a minimal oil consumption by your engine after a weekly check, you should stick with the original oil specs. But, if your older engine is having a significant oil consumption, you can switch to a slightly thicker oil. For instance, if the manufacturer of the engine recommends 5w20 oil weight, you can switch to 5w30 oil. Going further beyond that will further wear your engine parts.
Note: By excessive oil consumption, I mean to say more than 1-1.5 quarts of oil in only around 2000 miles.
One more important point I would like to highlight is to first check the oil pressure in your engine before you decide to shift to a high viscosity/thicker oil. You can check my guide on oil pressure for further guidance. From the service manual of your engine, you can determine the range of optimum oil pressure.
The high mileage engine may have wear which can allow the oil to flow through bearing surfaces faster, causing the low oil pressure. So, if the oil pressure is significantly lower than the desired pressure, you can shift to the thicker engine oil.
How Do High Mileage Motor Oils Benefit the Older Engines?
The thicker properties of a high-mileage motor oil help an older or high-mileage car with a “loose” engine and worn seals in terms of reduced oil consumption and somewhat better lubrication in areas where there is a bit of mechanical wear that has resulted in larger than normal clearances. If there are minor leaks that are easier to fix, should first try to fix them. If the oil is leaking from a rear main seal then switching to the high-mileage engine oil is always a low-cost solution.
Another point I would like to highlight is that high-mileage oil doesn’t mean it has high viscosity i.e. oil weight. High-mileage oils just have more additives, seal conditioners, friction modifiers, viscosity improvers, and detergents that firm up seals, break up engine sludge and keep the internal engine parts clean. The viscosity modifier is durable and does not cause oil to lose viscosity very easily. The additives in a high-mileage oil make seals and gaskets swell to fight leaks.
So, I must say instead of shifting to the heavier oil, you can use the same grade oil, but with a high-mileage version to protect your engine that has covered more than 200,000 miles.
You can check out the below video to learn more:
However, one guy said that switching to the high mileage oil in his 250,000 miles Ford Explorer couldn’t resolve the oil leakage problem. When he shifted to a slightly higher grade oil, that did the trick.
Keep in mind that high-mileage oils only benefit engines if there has been significant leakage of engine oil and the oil is burning in the engine due to the leakage from cracked seals. Other than that, there is a marketing tactic when these companies recommend high-mileage oil for the engines that are running fine.
Is High Mileage Oil Thicker?
High mileage oil is not thicker. The viscosity of a regular 5w30 oil would be the same as the viscosity of a high mileage 5w30 viscosity oil. The viscosity grades of oil confuse a lot. SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) assigns the viscosity grade to the motor oils when their viscosity falls in a certain range at a temperature of 212 F. For instance, the viscosity of 10w30, 5w30, and 0w30 motor oils lies between 9.3 and 12.5 cSt because all have the same viscosity grade of 30.
So, the viscosity of a high-mileage 5w30 oil would be closer to 12.5 cSt, while a regular 5w30 motor oil will have a viscosity closer to 9.3 cSt. High mileage oils just have more detergents and seal conditioners that firm up seals, hence the extra cost over standard oil.
On the other hand, if you shift to the motor oil of 5w40 viscosity grade, its viscosity will lie between 12.5 and 16.3 cSt. Also, do not that some people have a misconception that 10w30 oil is thicker than 5w30 oil. That’s not true when the engine reaches the operating temperature.
10w30 oil is thicker than 5w30 oil only at the engine startup when it is cold. If you switch to the 10w30 from 5w30 oil for your engine that has covered over 200000 miles, the oil 10w30 will be highly thicker on the engine startup, due to which it will not be pumped efficiently to the engine bearings and oil galleries.
Conventional vs Synthetic Motor Oil With Cars Over 200000 Miles
Usually, synthetic motor oils flow better at colder temperatures, due to which it is easier to start the engine if you are using synthetic motor oil. Furthermore, synthetic motor oil has the advantage of extended oil change interval times than conventional oils. If you’re using conventional oil in your high-mileage car, you might need to change it after every 3000 to 5000 miles. But for synthetic oil, you can change it after 6000 to 8000 miles for your older engines.
Synthetic oils have higher thermal stability, due to which their oil layer doesn’t break down at higher temperatures. Synthetic oils are more resistant to oxidation. When engine oil is exposed to heat and air, it undergoes oxidation, due to which its color changes and thickens over time.
The most important factor that sets the difference between conventional and synthetic oil is its noak value. The NOACK value determines evaporation tendencies of a lubricant (engine oil) in high-temperature service This is important in turbocharged and GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engines where deposits are a problem. For turbocharged engines, people prefer to run synthetic oil because it resists “coking” better, which is important given the high heat generated in the turbo’s bearing race.
For most brands, the price difference between synthetic and conventional oil is only around $6 for a 5-quart jug. So, I think instead of saving some bucks, I think it is better to use synthetic oils.
Best Oil For Cars With Over 200000 Miles
- Valvoline Max life
- Pennzoil Synthetic Blend High-Mileage
- Mobil 1 High Mileage Synthetic
1. Valvoline Max life
While purchasing the motor oil for your high-mileage car with over 200,000 miles, make sure that it has API SP and GF-6A as this indicates that the oil is compatible with the latest API standards. Other than that, there isn’t matter which brand of motor oil you should use, as long as the engine oil has the same viscosity grade which is recommended in the owner’s manual and you are changing the oil after every 5000 miles.
Here is what a car owner says:
“My car (2009 VW Passat 2,0tdi) has been running with 5W30 fully synthetic for 350,000km (about 220k miles). The oil has been changed every 15000km (about 9k miles) and there is not a single oil leak.”
So, if you ask my advice on which is the best oil for cars with over 200000 miles, my choice would be Valvoline High-Mileage Synthetic (link to amazon). I never had an issue with the Valvoline Maxlife Synthetic oil. You can use it for up to 6000 miles. It has extra detergents to flush out the engine sludge and a thick anti-wear film that protects the high-mileage engine from wearing.
One guy said this about Valvoline Maxlife oil:
I use Valvoline high mileage synthetic due to it being very good Dexos certified oil with additives that “should” work in theory to keep my engines clean and runs well without leaks. So far so good on my Cadillac Escalade with 213k miles. The engine feels good and does not burn oil so I based my opinion on how it runs in my older engine
2. Pennzoil Synthetic Blend High-Mileage
Another best oil for high-mileage cars is the Pennzoil Synthetic Blend High-Mileage oil (link to amazon). It is slightly cheaper than Valvoline Maxlife as it is not fully synthetic.
You can get Pennzoil High-Mileage Synthetic blend if your engine condition is fine and it is not burning the oil. Moreover, if you’re using Pennzoil High-Mileage synthetic blend oil instead of Valvoline Maxlife, you should change it after every 3500 miles as the Pennzoil High-Mileage has a slightly less TBN number (7.81) than Valvoline Maxlife (8.34). Furthermore, the molybdenum percentage in Pennzoil high-mileage oil is quite lesser than that present in Valvoline Maxlife oil.
3. Mobil 1 High Mileage Synthetic
Mobil1 High-mileage Synthetic Oil is also great for high-mileage cars with older engines. Mobile 1 has the highest TBN value i.e. 8.94 compared to the Pennzoil and Valvoline Maxlife. People claim that Mobil1 High-mileage oil has a very high level of detergency.
So, I have explained all three best oils for high-mileage cars with over 200000 miles. Apart from the best oil, I also recommend you take care of the oil filter. A good choice of a high-capacity oil filter is necessary as oil with better cleaning action can knock loose some gunk you didn’t know existed. I always recommend Wix oil filter to car owners.