Liquids show different properties at different temperatures and get converted into different states. Most liquids or fluids start converting into the gaseous form at high temperatures, whereas it gets converted into the solid-state at low temperatures. But is this true for engine oil as well? 

If you live in a city with very low temperatures and wonder whether engine oil can freeze or not, then this article is for you. Let’s see whether engine oil freezes?

Can Engine Oil Freeze?

Oils usually don’t freeze, especially engine oil. If you are concerned about your car’s engine oil freezing when the temperature goes very low or beyond -10 degrees celsius, don’t worry. It will not freeze. 

Unlike other liquids, engine oil does not completely freeze or crystallize even at very low temperatures. It gets thicker and denser than normal instead of getting solidified at low temperatures.

We’ve read and studied all about the flammability of engine oil, but in cold temperatures, the numbers are different.

Does Low-Temperature Affect Engine Oil?

Yes, it affects engine oil, as we all know that temperature affects liquids. Similarly, low temperature also affects engine oil, but it does not freeze even at -20 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If you are in a city where the temperature drops below 0 degrees celsius, you will notice engine oil getting thick and dense. The molecules of engine oil start to contract and come near each other, reducing the space between them, making engine oil thick and denser. 

Is There A Change In Viscosity Of Engine Oil At Low Temperature?

As mentioned above, engine oil is a petroleum-based product, and most petroleum-based products don’t get frozen at low temperatures. The viscosity of engine oil changes in cold temperature, and as the temperature drops, engine oil gets thicker and denser than at normal temperatures.

viscocity of engine oil
Viscosity of Engine oil

Synthetic engine oil, which is resistant to low or high temperatures, also changes its viscosity at cold or freezing temperatures. At high temperatures, it may engine oil may evaporate but in low temperatures, it gets thick and difficult to pour or flow. 

Thickening or change in viscosity also has a small effect on the quantity. As the viscosity changes, molecules present in the engine oil contract cause a very small change in your car’s level or quantity of engine oil.

What Is The Effect Of Cold Or Highly Viscous Engine Oil On Your Car?

We know how important engine oil is for the car to run smoothly and without any wear and tear. Not only the presence of engine oil is important, rather the presence of engine oil of accurate or appropriate viscosity is important in your car.

  • Too high or too low viscous engine oil can cause harm to your engine and can make it weak. That said, engine oil gets dense and thick at low temperatures, which changes the properties of engine oil, especially viscosity.
  • The viscosity of engine oil gets high, making it difficult for the oil to flow easily. Engine oil with high viscosity won’t flow freely to those parts that need lubrication the most for the smooth running of the engine and car. 
  • Engine oil of high viscosity won’t cool down the engine as it will be very dense and thick and might lose some of its properties.
  • Thick engine oil can also disrupt smooth transmission as the main purpose of engine oil is to lubricate the parts. Lack of lubrication might also disrupt the gearbox.
  • The car will take a long time to get heated and come back to normal and might stop in between while you are driving as the engine oil might not be flowing well from the storage pan to the parts.
  • High viscosity engine oil will also cause an effect on the car’s battery as it will have to make more effort to make the oil reach different components.

Things To Keep In Mind!

  • There might be a possibility that your car’s oil pressure sensor will show a low level, but before topping up the engine oil tank, make sure to check the actual level using dipstick as thick oil affects the oil pressure in the tank.
  • Don’t store engine oil in a tank or any other container in the cold weather, and if in case you do so, make sure to keep it in a clean and dry place with a balanced temperature. Never expose engine oil directly to cold temperatures.
  • Make sure to heat your car for 5-10 minutes before driving it in cold weather, as this will help the engine oil come back to normal temperature and ensure smooth flow during your ride. 
  • Always buy engine oil of appropriate viscosity after checking the owner’s manual.
  • Try to park your car under shade if possible at a cold temperature so that there aren’t any adverse effects of temperature on the engine oil. 

Final Word

Unlike other liquids, engine oil does not freeze at cold temperature and does not solidify or crystallize. As we mentioned above, the viscosity of engine oil changes at low temperatures, and the oil gets thick. 

Make sure to look at the things you should keep in mind that we have mentioned above. 

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