Automotive Fluids - Lubricating Oils & Greases, Fuels, Coolants & Brake Fluids

KEW Engineering




How does Oil Protect?

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Copyright 2009

KEW Engineering Ltd



Please read the disclaimer before continuing.

Disclaimer:  Any advice or recommendations given herein are to be considered as those based on my experience of owning MGs and of working in the industry as a technical specialist on oils.  Many people will have differing views, so you are advised to talk to your vehicle manufacturer, supplying dealer, lubricant supplier or your engine rebuild specialist.

To the best of my knowledge the information in the website is correct and I would welcome any feedback with supporting evidence if you spot any inadvertent errors in these pages.

Supposition is purely that, guesswork, so in some cases I have drawn some conclusions and made some references where anecdotal evidence has suggested this information to be the case.  Again, I cannot be held liable for this and it should not be quoted or referenced as fact.


If you are reading this then you probably have some interest in the matter and therefore I trust I wonít bore you unnecessarily.  

The site has been compiled to give the reader an overview to classic car oils, but also provides some insight into modern car oils as background to the age old argument of whether these are suitable for older style BMC A and B Series engines.

However, if you are of the school of thought that says frequent oil changes with mineral 20W50 is the only answer for your A or B Series then maybe this website isnít for you and you may find watching paint dry a more interesting pastime.

If you're looking for a specific oil that will give you an extra 10bhp, you wonít find any secrets in here, either.

No matter what I say on here, I expect some doubting Thomas will still say it's all a waste of time and frequent oil changes with some cheap oil will work best.  The trouble is, everyone has differing needs and uses their cars in different ways so I hope that the website will give a clearer view of what is on offer beyond the usual blinkered arguments from those not particularly qualified in this field.

And lastly, I donít make recommendations on specific brands to use as a general rule. So don't ask.


It might be worth summarising the situation regarding this article at the beginning so that it saves you thirty pages of reading.

What oil you should use will depend on how you use your classic  car:

If you are a Summer only, low mileage (<1500miles) classic car owner then use a low grade 20W50 - Tesco does a 1L bottle of it for £1.65 (as of Sept 2009).   Change at the beginning and the end of the Summer show season.

If you want something a little better or do more than 3000 miles all year round, go to a specially formulated 20W50, such  as Halfords Classic, Comma, Castrol 20W50, Millers or the imported Australian Penrite.  The Halfords 20W50 comes in a particularly retro look tin giving that feel of nostalgia that classic car ownership is all about.

If your classicís engine is using a lot of oil owing to wear then stick with the Tesco 1L bottle as they're easy to store in the boot.

If your classic is used everyday as mine is and that means more miles per year in all weathers, then to my knowledge there are only a few synthetic oils that will meet the typical 20W50 spec and that is Mobil1 in its 15W50 form and Halfords do a version, too.  However, you might probably be as well sticking with the 20W50 mineral oils listed above even if it means 3k mile service intervals.

If the engine was recently rebuilt and is properly bedded in then there is a choice and a 0W40 synthetic blend will work. I am sure there are those better qualified than me to say it won't work and you will damage your engine but so far my experience has been ok over 20k miles, albeit you will see lower oil pressure at idle but still adequate.

There are a lot of myths out there on the forums and BBS pages about what will and wonít work and I canít necessarily argue with the experience of worn cam followers as reported by some owners/engine rebuilders, but, one must also ask whether the wear can be attributed to the oil or to the quality of the components.  My experience within industry is that oil has improved many fold over that of even 20 yrs ago, but sadly the quality of machine components has similarly deteriorated as profits are continually sought in an ever toughening market.