Frequently asked questions
To help you understand oil better, here are the answers to the questions we’re most frequently asked.
Why is an engine oil’s ability to cleanse important?
Keeping engine components clean is essential as it keeps them in good condition. If your engine components are dirty, oil may not be lubricating and protecting the engine properly. Dirt build-up can also lead to premature engine damage. Shell Helix engine oils are designed to clean and protect engines for improved performance.
Why is the choice of engine oil so important?
Oil is the lifeblood of your car. If the wrong kind is used, the engine is at risk of increased wear and corrosion. Formation of blockages can also lead to engine seizure. By putting Shell Helix oil in the engine, you can carry on motoring with confidence and experience the feeling that your car has just been serviced – all for less than the cost of a tank of fuel.
How does oil protect my engine?
In many ways:
- By cleaning the engine – Shell Helix oils are designed to clear away dirt, debris and deposits from engine components and to prevent blockages in important oil ways. The oil helps to lock up the dirt and render it harmless until it is removed at the next oil change.
- By reducing friction and minimising wear – Shell Helix oils form a protective film over your engine components and have special additives that act between the moving surfaces to prevent contact and reduce drag. This helps your engine to operate as quietly and effectively as the designers intended.
- By removing heat – Shell Helix oils carry heat away from hot areas, such as around the piston rings where the temperature can reach up to 320°C, and redistribute it around the engine.
By preventing corrosion and rust – Shell Helix oils help to protect your hard-working engine components from corrosion beyond the normal oil-change interval. Benchmarking studies show that Shell Helix oils provide best-in-class protection and help to extend your engine’s life and avoid some expensive repairs.
What is engine oil made from?
Engine oils are made up from three important ingredients – base oils, viscosity modifiers and performance additives. These are carefully selected and skilfully blended to enable the oil to provide maximum engine protection.
Is it important to change oil and how often should I do this?
You should change your oil and filter at or before the end of oil-change intervals indicated by your vehicle manufacturer. These are based on distance travelled or time. Regular oil changing helps to keep your engine oil in good condition and provide the best protection for all of your engine components.
How should I dispose of used oil?
Used oil can pollute the environment and should never be poured down the drain. In many markets it is also illegal to do this. Instead, take your waste to an official oil-disposal or recycling bank (these are often located at local refuse collection points). Alternatively, ask your local authority recycling officer for guidance.
Why is there a range of engine oils and how do I know which one to choose?
Car-owner handbooks will give you a minimum oil specification. However, you may wish to trade up to a better specification engine oil. Choosing the correct engine oil for a vehicle depends on:
- the car’s type – a high-performance car needs higher performance oil.
- the car’s age – a lot is expected from new technology engines: high performance coupled with fuel efficiency. Advanced oils have been developed to help keep pace with increased engineering demands. For example, modern cars have blow-by-gas recirculation that can cause extreme oxidation in old-technology oils and sensitive exhaust gas after-treatment devices that can be poisoned by inappropriate oils.
- the driving environment – modern motorway driving and heavy stop-start traffic requires higher quality oils to prevent increased engine wear and tear.
You may prefer one of our application-based products, such as Shell Helix HX7 K, which is specifically designed for cars that have been driven more than 100,000 km.
To find the right oil for you quickly and easily, try our Shell LubeMatch tool.
Why is Shell Helix any better than other leading brands?
We have put Shell’s years of know-how in oil development into every aspect of the Shell Helix formula – from the base-oil technology through to the additives’ selection and blending. We have also channelled the experience we have gained in supporting leading racing teams, such as Scuderia Ferrari, into the Shell Helix formula. It is designed to meet challenges, so no matter how stressful your driving conditions, Shell Helix will help to clean and protect your engine.
Why should I buy Shell Helix when I can buy additives off the shelf and mix them with existing oil?
Adding an uncontrolled volume of additives to your oil is like putting salt on your dessert. It takes years of additive blending experience to come up with the right formula for Shell Helix oil, and the way the various additives are mixed in with the base oil is crucial to the oil’s overall performance. So our strong advice is “do not add additives” if you aim to get the most from your car. The addition of additives may lead to expiration of the vehicle manufacturer’s guarantee.
Will I really notice the difference if I don’t make frequent oil changes?
Not changing your oil on a regular basis can significantly reduce the level of protection provided against engine wear. Engine oil acts as a reservoir for all kinds of by-products that form when the fuel burns, including soot, sludge, water and acidic material, as well as unburned and partially burned fuel. At the same time, the stress placed on the oil during engine operation gradually depletes the components that determine the oil’s performance. Refreshing the oil on a regular basis ensures that the right balance of components is present in the oil.
It also removes waste materials that might otherwise result in increased deposit formation, corrosion of metal components and increased wear.
Why not just keep topping up the engine oil?
If you simply keep on topping up your oil, you put more stress on the older oil that remains in the engine. And this stress issue has become worse in recent years as lighter, modern engines now run with about 25% less oil in their sumps. Shell Helix oil has a powerful ability to clean up your engine components and goes on keeping engines clean through to the next oil change.
Do most people drive under severe driving conditions?
A recent study in Europe showed that 75% of car journeys involved trips shorter than 10km. These trips often incorporate a high level of stop-start driving, which can result in greatly increased engine wear if oil is not changed on a regular basis.