5 Best Motor Oils for High Mileage Engines

Odometer crossing 100,000 miles is a ‘woohoo’ moment. It’s not unusual for today’s engines to roll through 200,000 or even 300,000 miles and show little wear. But to keep the engine in tip-top shape, you need to use the right life force; case in point: High Mileage Oil. Read on to see why you should use high mileage engine oil.

Want some recs? Check out the brands below. These are our favorite high mileage engine oils based on their performance, longevity, and efficiency.

What’s High Mileage, Anyway?

Typically, 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year on the odometer is viewed as ‘average.’ A vehicle that is driven more than that – 75,000 miles plus to be exact, is called high-mileage.

To maintain high mileage engines, you need ‘extra care’ in the form of an oil change.

All About Oil Change

The 3,000-mile oil change guideline is old news. Today, modern engines can travel quite a bit farther between oil changes. That said, frequent oil changes won’t help your engine. It doesn’t harm either, but it’s a waste of money and time. Keep in mind, too, that it’s not good for the environment.

To gauge when the engine needs an oil change, we recommend that you keep an eye on the oil-life monitor; or you can do it the old-fashioned way – check the dipstick. Light amber to dark brown means ‘T’s time for a change’.

What To Do When The Vehicle Is Out Of Warranty?

Once you’re outside the manufacturer’s warranty, you should determine oil change intervals based on your driving habit and of course, common sense.  Recommendations depend on whom you ask, how often you tow and even where you drive.  

Severe conditions include:

  • If your trips are 5 miles or less (in normal temperatures)
  • If your trips are 10 miles or less (in chilly weather)
  • Stop-and-go driving on extremely sunny days
  • Low speed – long-distance drive
  • Thousands of miles on muddy, sandy, dusty or gravel roads
  • Long-distance trailer towing

High Mileage Oils – How They Work?

A high mileage motor oil is pretty much what it sounds like, oil for engines with 75,000 – 100,000 miles on the odometer.

Most of the high mileage vehicles have one thing in common: leaks. Because of this, the high mileage engine oils contain seal conditioners as the major constituent.  These conditioners act as a salve and heal the seals – meaning less oil consumption, fewer oil changes and engine problems down the road.

Motor oil for high mileage engines also boast detergents, anti-wear additives, and dispersants to break up sludge and keep the engine clean. Also, they have better viscosity properties, so your engine may sound quieter and remains guarded against wear and tear.

Before You Buy

Always check the owner’s manual to pick the right oil for your car. That includes knowing the viscosity grade (remember the 10W-30?). Then comes the API (American Petroleum Institute) labels indicating the tests the oil has passed. You’ll also want to know if synthetic oil works for your vehicle.

Another important thing: oil filters. Yes, they are almost as important as the high mileage oil itself, helping prevent engine damage.

Our Top Picks for High Mileage Motor Oil

1. Pennzoil 550045205-3PK 10W-30 High Mileage Motor Oil

high mileage oil

With zero sludge build-up and increased gas mileage, we think most classic and vintage engines that aren’t suitable for synthetic oil will run best on Pennzoil 550045205-3PK.

We’re big fans of the brand and so are automotive retailers and dealers. Currently labeled as API SN standard, it’s so popular that it tops the list of the best oil for cars with over 75000 miles.

That’s not all. Made of 100-percent petroleum-grade materials, the Pennzoil 10w30 is all-vehicle compatible, provides better lubrication and wear protection. The oil is abundant in detergents that will dissolve the dirt completely. Even better, the detergents prevent the dirt deposit from recurring.

But if you need a more exciting reason to choose Pennzoil 10w30, you should know that it jells well with both 100% synthetic and synthetic blended oils. That means this high mileage oil is suitable for newer engines, too. So, go ahead: add this five-quartz container to your shopping cart!

What we like

  • Almost all vehicle compatibility
  • Prevents and removes sludge and other damaging deposits
  • Conditions worn-out seals and holds back leaks
  • Has anti-wear agents
  • Keep old and new engines spotless

What We Don’t Like

  • Has only the base API SN standard

2. Valvoline High Mileage Synthetic Blend Motor Oil 5 QT

synthetic blend lubricant

Valvoline knows the game they are playing, after all, it’s the most famous and one of the oldest motor oil brands in the US. Valvoline High Mileage Max Life is a synthetic blend formula that’ll bring a new life out of aging high mileage engines. It not only steps up the fight against leaks and breakdown but boosts performance. 

This high mileage oil is a savior of new and rebuilt engines, too. All thanks to the list of additives, modifiers, detergents, and dispersants. Best of all, it has antioxidants to maintain the viscosity even during hot summer days.

It’s affordable, so don’t hesitate to try Valvoline MaxLife to get rid of leaks and smoke.  Plus, if you’re engine is a noisy guy, Valvoline’s high mileage formula can smooth it out over time. The only bummer, Valvoline High Mileage Max Life has limited viscosity grades.

What We Like

  • Cleans and rejuvenates aging engines
  • Rust inhibitors and anti-wear agents
  • Seal conditioners to stop & prevent oil leaks
  • Prevents oil breakdown

What We Don’t Like

  • Reduces high performance
  • Not suitable to use with regular oils

3. Castrol Gtx High Mileage 20w-50 Synthetic Blend Motor Oil

high mileage engine oil

If you have a vehicle that has traveled over 75,000 miles, we recommend Castrol 06470 GTX High Mileage 20W-50 Synthetic Blend Motor Oil. Backed by 100+ years of experience in the field, Castrol’s engine oils are the best. And, we’re happy to report that this high mileage oil continues that tradition. 

Not every high-mileage vehicle needs specialized oil, but this one could help if yours needs oil burn-off protection.  Liquid engineered with Phosphorus Replacement Technology this high mileage synthetic oil protects the emission system.

Debris and grime built-up is nothing new for any older engine. Castrol 06470 GTX comes with superior dispersants that ward off sludge build-up.  Protection from unwarranted wear, less friction, and improved fuel economy are some other perks Castrol 06470 GTX brings to your platter. 

While you shouldn’t expect this to be a cure-all, aging engines may find that this high mileage motor oil is worth a try.

What We Like

  • Unsurpassed protection against wear and tear
  • Protection against oil burn-off; won’t evaporate
  • Engine protection

What We Don’t Like

  • SAE rating of 20W50 limits the usage in cold temperature
  • Recommended to use in vehicles with Bosch filter

4. Royal Purple 11744 HMX SAE 5W-30 High Mileage Synthetic Motor Oil 

Single-digit temps can cause motor oil to flow either too slowly, or not at all. The result: a messy domino effect at startup.  Royal Purple High-Mileage Synthetic Motor Oil flows in cold weather, so your car gets the oil it needs at startup.

Fortified with zinc/phosphorus anti-wear additive ROY11748 HMX conditions, shields and maximizes engine lifespan. The chemically enhanced HMX prevents build-up that can cause rust and corrosion. Even better, with its exceptional oxidation resistance, it extends drain intervals. 

With its excellent lubrication properties, it ensures misfires and loud idling disappear over time. What’s more, it works just fine in extreme heat as well.  There are some criticisms about decreased gas mileage and change in performance but we don’t think that’s not a deal-breaker.

Another best motor oil for high mileage engines with over 75000 miles or more!

What We Like

  • Makes engine more efficient
  • Excellent corrosion protection
  • Perfect anti-wear composition
  • Great reduction in friction

What We Don’t Like

  • Requires more frequent oil change

5. AmazonBasics High Mileage Motor Oil

best high mileage oil

If you aren’t attached to 100+-year-old brands, we recommend the AmazonBasics Full Synthetic Motor Oil. Designed to keep the high mileage engines from 1993 and above, it is full of anti-wear agents and rust inhibitors. It also has seal conditioners that amp up fuel efficiency and reduce flare-ups.  Let’s not forget that a high mileage engine usually suffers from greater wear & tear of the engine’s moving parts so this one should help.

Also, it won’t lose the viscosity at high temperatures – perfect for any engine that runs hot. Another reason this high mileage motor oil is in high demand:  it comes with Dexos1 Gen 2, API SN, and ILSAC GF-5 approvals. You can rest assured that it is a value for money deal.

One of the most beloved high mileage engine oil brands the e-marketplace offers, any way you slice it!

What We Like

  • Friction reducing formula
  • Comes in more viscosity grades
  • Higher resistance to viscosity and thermal breakdown
  • Great at reducing exhaust emissions and deposits
  • Longer drain interval

What We Don’t Like

  • Incompatible for older engines
  • Poor sludge dissolution

High Mileage Motor Oil 2020 – Buying Guide

Now that you’ve seen what the market has to offer, it’s time to learn how to make the right choice, and buy the best engine oil for high mileage cars. 

Let’s get started!

Motor age:  7 years or 75,000 miles – whichever comes first. This is when it’s time to start looking for a higher viscosity oil. Unless your vehicle starts stalling out beforehand.

Viscosity and weather: Select a motor oil that can maintain its viscosity in all weather. Check for oil rating that reads like ‘5W-30’. Here, ‘5W’ indicates the viscosity of the oil when the engine is cold. The lower the number the lower the viscosity, and it’s good for start-up performance. The second number, ‘30’ indicates the thickness of the oil at optimal operating temperatures. The best oils are those reads ‘20W’, as they are more viscous.

Additives: The additives in the form of detergents, seal conditioners, friction modifiers, and antioxidants guarantees top-notch engine performance. So, you should favor a high mileage oil that has more additives. 

Labels and certification logos: All motor oils in the US are tested by the API (American Petroleum Institute). So, make sure to choose the one with API ‘donut’ symbol. Oils with SH, SG, and SF tags are considered unfit for vehicles built in the past 20 years. Then there’s General Motors’ Dexos Certification which is considered to be a higher benchmark than the API.

Pricing: There is ‘n’ number of high mileage engine oils out there from synthetic to conventional. Prices depend on the brand and the grade, synthetic being the most expensive.

Fuel Economy and Horsepower: Choose the brands that help maintain fuel efficiency while protecting engine horsepower by minimizing sludge formation. This will help you save some dollars!

Motor Oil For High Mileage Engines – Q & A

Q: When should I change to high mileage oil?

A: Bigger brands like Valvoline suggest at 75,000 miles. However, if you get an oil change regularly, you’ll know best when to switch. If there are no leaks, and your engine is quiet and runs smooth, you probably can wait a little more

Q: What are the signs that it’s time to use high mileage oil?

  • Increased oil consumption
  • An engine that starts slow in cold or runs hot on warmer days
  • Poor throttle response
  • A decrease in gas mileage
  • Minor leak

Q: How is high mileage engine oil different?

A: As said earlier, high mileage oils have additives to take care of older engines.

  • Seal conditioners – Swell and rejuvenate gaskets and seals back to their original size and shape. Thus, heals the leaks.
  • Viscosity modifiers – Keep the oil thicker through its service cycle
  • Detergents – Fight carbon and sludge build-up inside
  • Anti-corrosion agents – Protects engine from corroding
  • Friction modifiers – Reduce friction and wear
  • Antioxidants – Increase the oxidative resistance of the oil

Q: Does climate affect motor oil?

A: Yes, extreme temperatures in either direction can change how the oil works. Frigid temperature thickens the oil and leads to accelerated engine wear. Remember, the lower the grade (0W, the thinner the oil, the easier your engine will start. 

For hotter climates, thicker oils are ideal. That’s because hotter temperature thins out the oil by breaking it. Too thin oil means more metal-on-metal contact and, that’d be the last thing you want.

By switching to high mileage engine oil, you can rule out oil break down and frequent oil changes. 

What Are High Mileage Synthetic Oil Blends?

Some high mileage motor oils are synthetic blends. Synthetic oil offers almost all benefits of high mileage formulations, but with added protection and less frequent oil changes. Synthetic motor oil is also more stable across the extremes – a plus during startup.

Love Your Car? Let It Know

With timely repair, and if you keep on the oil change schedule, you can keep your high mileage engine on the road longer.  However, you need to know what to consider and what not to. Using high mileage oils is a necessity to protect your engine but keep in mind that it can’t solve every problem. After a few oil changes (read: on-time) you might notice significant improvements. If not, the engine may require costly repairs. 

The best engine oil for high mileage cars in our comparison is the Valvoline High Mileage Synthetic Blend Motor Oil 5 QT. It offers an unbeatable combination of anti-wear protection, performance, and value for high mileage engines.

A special mention goes to AmazonBasics Full Synthetic Motor Oil. It has all the qualities to make users switch over from big brands.

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