Every car owner wants their vehicle to run like it did when they bought it, but the truth is that wear and tear accelerate as your car accumulates miles. One way to combat the effects of high mileage is to incorporate products specifically designed for older vehicles in your maintenance and prevention routine—specifically a high mileage oil.
Anyone who’s driven a car knows how critical oil is to the proper functioning of your vehicle, and it becomes even more so in older vehicles. If your car has 75,000 miles or more on it, it’s vital that you begin to use a motor oil designed for the needs of aging vehicles.
Bottom Line Up Front
We know that researching the many options available in the world of high mileage oil is not the most exciting activity, which is why we looked at the best high mileage oils out there and created this list and buyer’s guide for your reference.
After extensive research on the best oils, we chose Valvoline 5W-30 MaxLife as our top pick. We wanted to find an oil that would fit the needs of the most car owners without sacrificing price or performance, and the Valvoline option fits the bill. Older engines up to 300,000 miles can benefit from this oil, and it’s geared toward increasing longevity.
Although we only mention a couple of the reasons Valvoline emerged as the winner, we’ll talk more about why we chose it later. For now, let’s learn a little bit about the different types of oil and what to look for before deciding on one.
Different Types of Oil
Before purchasing high mileage oil, it’s essential to understand the difference between the most common oil types, as they are not all created equal. These differences are especially apparent when it comes to older engines, which have special oil considerations and often require more expensive blends.
If you’re not sure which oil type to choose, we recommend consulting your car’s owner’s manual or checking with a mechanic.
“Full synthetic” can be a bit misleading because full synthetic oils are actually made from petroleum. A name change came because, during their manufacture, the petroleum is transformed enough that it no longer has the same characteristics.
Full synthetic oils are common because they are long-lasting and highly viscous (we’ll talk about viscosity in a bit). High-tech engines often require this type of oil, and most new engines do, too. Full synthetic oil is not appropriate for every engine type, however. Some newer engines and most older ones are not designed for this type of oil.
Full synthetic oil is usually more expensive than others, so if your car doesn’t require it, you’ll save some money.
Premium conventional oil comes from crude oil, and it’s the standard type that most new cars use. Antique or classic cars typically use premium conventional oil, and it’s usually less expensive than others. It performs very well.
Though it is a fine oil choice, premium conventional oil is not without its problems. It’s not as environmentally friendly, nor does it last as long as other motor oils.
Synthetic Blend Oil
Synthetic blend oils are a mix of conventional and synthetic oils. Manufacturers decided to make this combination because it’s a cost-effective way to produce car oil. While the lower price is attractive, the performance of synthetic blend oils is inferior as compared to other oil types and not as long-lasting.
High Mileage Oil
High mileage oil is specifically for use in cars that have 75,000 miles or more. The ingredients of these oils are specially formulated to care for the changing needs of older engines, which include things like conditioners, seal swells, antioxidants, and friction additives, to name a few.
It might seem like all high mileage oils are the same, but they vary depending on the additives used, which is why you should pay close attention to them. High mileage oils use additives to clean, preserve, and enhance the performance of your engine, so make sure the oil you choose is compatible with your engine’s needs.
How to Find the Best High Mileage Oil: What to Look For
To help you find the best high mileage oil, we’ve included some tips on what features to look for. We looked at all of these aspects in deciding which oils to include on our list, and we’ll take a look at these features in greater depth when we discuss each oil individually.
Your Vehicle’s Mileage
As we’ve already mentioned, high mileage oil is for cars with 75,000 miles or more, but there is one crucial distinction to note.
Just because your car has more than 75,000 miles doesn’t mean that all high mileage oils are appropriate for your engine. Some are designed for vehicles just reaching that “older engine” mark, while others have properties more beneficial to cars in the 150,000-mile range.
Since there is a world of difference when it comes to the challenges engines in these distinct mileage ranges face, make sure you know how many miles your car has when choosing a motor oil.
It’s impossible to talk about motor oil without talking about viscosity, so it’s critical that you understand what it is.
Motor oil has to withstand extreme temperatures, both high and low, while still maintaining its viscosity or resistance to flow. Since oil thins when it gets hot and thickens when it gets cold, the more viscous it is, the better it seals and lubricates the moving parts of your engine.
You will see viscosity noted with an “XW-XX” classification, such as 10W-30. In this case, the number 10 refers to the oil’s flow at zero degrees Fahrenheit, and the number 30 refers to the oil’s viscosity at one hundred degrees Celsius.
The lower the first number, the less thick the oil becomes in cold weather, which is why it’s beneficial to choose an oil with low winter viscosity. The opposite is true in summer when you want higher viscosity.
We touched on additives briefly before, which are what give high mileage oils that extra kick for older engines. Additives help you address specific problems or prevent them, which means that your vehicle’s needs dictate the kind of additives to look for in high mileage oils.
The most common additives are for preserving, cleaning, and performance.
Preservation additives maintain your engine’s integrity in various ways. They can help your car by preventing rust, fighting corrosion, and employing antioxidants that prevent the oil from burning. Antiwear agents are other typical additives, and they work to combat the adverse effects of repeated metal on metal contact.
As their name implies, cleaning additives work to clean your engine in two main ways, and they are generally detergents and dispersants. The former acts like soap, though it isn’t soap in the strict sense of the word, by cleaning deposits and preventing them from forming. The latter cleans your engine by breaking up and removing sludge deposits.
Performance-enhancing additives contain substances to help your engine work better, which can be any of the things we’ve mentioned in this section. Detergents and preservatives fall in the category of performance enhancers, as anything providing benefit to your engine affects how well it works.
Best High Mileage Oil
Now that you understand some critical oil basics, it’s time to take a look at our picks for the best high mileage oil.
Valvoline is the last oil on our list, and as we mentioned before, our pick for the best overall high mileage oil. This company has over 150 years of experience under its belt, so it’s no surprise that they’re generally in the top three rankings when it comes to motor oil.
- Synthetic blend
- 02 pounds
What makes Valvoline 5W-30 so great is the variety of additives focused on helping you get maximum longevity out of your vehicle.
It includes detergents and dispersants to clean the engine, antiwear agents and rust inhibitors to maintain it, and antioxidants to maintain viscosity regardless of the temperature. Seal conditioners refresh engine seals that may have experienced some breakdown, which helps you ward off oil leaks in your vehicle.
Valvoline 5W-30 is compatible with engines with up to 300,000 miles, though the company recommends that you start using it at no later than 150,000 miles. And incorporating this oil into your maintenance routine won’t hurt your wallet because, for all that it offers, the price is right.
- Excellent price
- Includes many additives, including antioxidants, detergents and dispersants, rust inhibitors, and antiwear agents
- Not advisable for newer engines because you can’t combine it with regular oils
The Castrol name is synonymous with expertise in the motor oil industry, which is part of what makes them such a trusted brand. The Castrol Edge 10W-30 delivers on exactly what Castrol is known for—producing some of the best products around. This fully synthetic oil is well suited to cars of any age over 75,000 miles.
- Fully synthetic
- Appropriate for vehicles with over 75,000 miles
- 35 pounds
Castrol designed this product to be a performance oil, and it offers some attractive benefits for your engine. It utilizes fluid titanium technology, which is effective at reducing noise in noisy engines. It does so by forming a film on top of the engine’s moving parts, which leads to less friction and an overall smoother sound.
If you’re looking for a product that will help flush out sludge, the Castrol Edge isn’t the greatest for that particular problem, but it does work quickly on the issues it’s intended to improve, and it helps reduce oil leaks.
We also like that it’s long lasting—customers should be able to go around 10,000 miles before needing to change the oil, and it functions well in both hot and cold temperatures. A fun plus is that you can use it in other gasoline engines if need be.
- Can help reduce oil changes because it’s long lasting
- Helps cut down on the sound produced by noisy engines
- Engineered with fluid titanium technology to achieve maximum engine performance
- You can use this product in other gasoline engines like lawn mowers
- It sometimes burns
- Requires the use of a heavy oil filter
While buying motor oil from Amazon may seem strange, Amazon has outdone themselves with this product, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. This excellent option is a new engine high mileage oil that strikes a great balance between price and performance.
- Full synthetic
- 25 pounds
It’s easy to see the quality of this motor oil due to its ratings, which include API SN Plus, Dexos Gen 2, and GF-5. The AmazonBasics oil is focused on maintenance, so it uses additives like anti-wear agents and rust inhibitors that keep your engine in top condition. Since it’s not for cleaning out sludge, you won’t find detergents or dispersants in this oil.
One thing to note is that this oil is designed for newer model combustion engines, so if your car has an older engine, the AmazonBasics oil may not be the best choice for you. Specifically, if your car is from before 1993, you should look for something different.
Overall, this is an oil choice that can help you increase your fuel economy and keep your car running smoothly.
- Excellent quality ratings (dexos1 Gen 2, API SN Plus, and ILSAC GF-5 approved)
- Great price for money value
- Available in several viscosity varieties
- Friction-Reducing Formula fights against wear and tear
- Not compatible with a lot of engines, such as older engines or high-performance ones
- May not last as long between oil changes
- Does not help dissolve sludge
This Mobil option is for the car owner who puts their vehicle through the wringer. Whether that’s with extended hours on the highway, lots of stop and go traffic, or extreme weather conditioners, this oil helps your vehicle stand up to whatever you ask of it.
- Full synthetic
- Seal conditioner for leak protection
- Extreme temperature protection
- 45 pounds
For the first two or three oil changes, Mobil recommends shorter intervals of 3,000-5,000 miles to help reduce sludge that’s built up. After these first few changes, you should notice a difference and can enjoy the superior lifespan of around 15,000 miles between changes.
Extreme winters cause problems for engines, so if you live in an area where sub-zero temperatures are the norm, this oil’s light winter weight will keep your car starting every morning. It’s also got a variety of additives such as antioxidants, anti wear agents, rust inhibitors, and detergents. The Mobil 1 oil is suitable for use in all vehicles.
- Enhances engine performance
- Has an extremely high 15,000-mile lifespan after the first few oil changes
- High viscosity index allows for use in severe weather
- It’s a bit on the expensive side
You’ve heard of Pennzoil, and that’s because this company has been an industry leader for many years. Pennzoil is a trustworthy brand, and they’ve proven it with the Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil, which is compatible with most engine types and does a fantastic job lubricating the motor and preventing leaks.
- Thermal Oxidation ability
This formula will begin to clean your engine from the very first oil change. It prevents sludge buildup by dissolving it into the oil for removal in your next oil change and stops leaks from seals. It’s also got active cleansing agents that stop contaminants and dirt from forming in your engine.
Besides helping to clean your engine, the Pennzoil Full Synthetic Motor Oil has thermal oxidation ability that will also enhance engine performance, and it allows users to save on fuel. Given all these features, we highly recommend this fantastic all-around product, though we do have to mention that it’s a bit pricey.
- Compatible with most engines
- The formula includes anti wear agents
- Prevents and flushes sludge
- Does an excellent job at cleaning your engine
- Not API SN Plus
- Is a bit expensive
Comparing the Options
|Valvoline 5W-30 MaxLife||Synthetic||5W-30|
|Castrol 03129C Edge 10W-30||Full Synthetic||10W-30|
|AmazonBasics High Mileage Motor Oil||Full Synthetic||5W-30|
|Mobil 1 5W-20 High Mileage Advanced Motor Oil||Full Synthetic||5W-20|
|Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil||Conventional||10W-30|
When your car’s mileage starts accumulating, it’s critical to shift your car maintenance to reflect the needs of your aging engine. By utilizing a motor oil designed for high mileage cars, you can help prolong the life of your vehicle and reverse some of the signs and symptoms often present in engines that have gone over 75,000 miles.