Do I Need to Use the Manufacturer’s Oil?

Nobody knows better than Greenwood’s auto body shop in Seattle that the world of engine oil is not what it used to be. In living memory, the consumer could simply go down to the automotive section of their local store and pick out a bottle of oil based on a simple measure of viscosity. Today, however, oil has become so complex and convoluted that many manufacturers are putting out their own special brands and insisting that you use it if you want your car to keep running properly. Observing this, a canny consumer needs to wonder: is there a legitimate need to use the manufacturer’s brand of oil, or is this all marketing mumbo-jumbo?

The short answer is that, if your car’s manufacturer specifies a brand of oil for your engine, it’s probably a pretty good idea to use that oil. Different engines do in fact have different needs, and the right kind of oil can go a long way towards keeping up performance and prolonging the life of your car. However, it is also important to note that you don’t necessarily need to use the specified brand to get everything you need; so long as you are following the specifications found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you should be fine.

A problem that some drivers encounter is that the manufacturer threatens to void their drivetrain warranty if they do not use the manufacturer brand. The good news here is that you are protected by something called the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, which requires that your manufacturer is able to actually establish that an off-brand oil was responsible for damaging your engine. Should you be in a situation where you are being denied a warranty claim based on your oil use without an investigation, the company is in violation of the act.