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Can You Use Car Oil in a Four-Wheeler?

If you have a car and a four-wheeler, you may be tempted to stick with the same oil for both of them. It’s convenient, but you’re also probably thinking that since the oil can work for a car engine, it should work with a four-wheeler. Is this a good idea, though?

You can use car oil for a four-wheeler, but it is not the right decision in many cases. This is because the oil formulation will affect different engines in different ways. The perfect car oil may not have the right formulation required to keep a four-wheeler running optimally.  

The rest of the article will take a closer look at the case against pouring car oil into a four-wheeler engine. There’s also a section on the best oils to use instead.

Why Regular Car Oil Won’t Work in four-wheelers

The main reasons we add oil to engines are to protect against wear and tear and protect against the damage caused by extreme heat while the engine is running. Under extreme heat, deposits will form in the engine, making it less powerful and reducing its overall efficiency. The heat can also lead to faster oxidation of the oil, which will make it unable to protect the engine as it should.

So, while it may seem like a good idea to use the same motor oil you already have or to buy a cheap one at the store, you should reconsider the decision if you don’t want to damage your engine. Or waste too much time, energy, and money on trying to prevent oxidation via regular oil changes.

How Car Oil Interacts With a four-wheeler Engine

A four-wheeler won’t see a lot of miles when compared to your regular car, but the engine in it revs very high and runs super hard when in use. The engine is designed to work heavily, but at slower speeds than a car. This engine configuration means that conventional car oil will, in most cases, not have enough oil film strength for the engine.

The slow, but power-sapping operations of a four-wheeler increases stress on engine bearings. If the oil film strength is inadequate (as is the case with car oils in such an engine), the pressure from running the engine will rupture the oil film, leading to worn out bearings.

Oils designed for four-wheelers ensure that durable protective film remains in the engine regardless of the condition. By getting these instead of using regular car oil, your machine’s engine will function more optimally.  

Another important point you should keep in mind here is that oil made for four-wheelers also have to lubricate the transmission. Car oils don’t have this composition as the transmission in conventional vehicles typically has a designated lubricant. 

four-wheeler oils don’t come with the same type of friction modification seen in car oils, so they do a better job when it comes to protecting your transmission and ensuring excellent transmission performance.

How Often Should You Change Your four-wheeler Oil?

You should change the oil in a four-wheeler more frequently compared to your car, in terms of total miles traveled. The exact frequency will vary depending on usage, but you should aim to change the oil in the vehicle every 100 hours or 1000 miles on average. However, you don’t have to wait until you hit those numbers. The oil in the engine will lose its efficacy after around six months due to oxidation.

If you use your four-wheeler for sport, you should change the oil every 25 to 30 hours. If you take part in races regularly, you should change the oil after every race. For racing, protecting the engine is more important than anything else. 

You need to ensure your engine can handle the stress and heat from racing, and the best way to do this is to ensure there’s fresh oil providing high film strength and resistance to thermal breakdown at all times.

Are There Signs to Look Out for Before Changing Your four-wheeler Oil?

Unfortunately, you can’t use an eye-test to know when to change the engine oil in a four-wheeler. The only way to do this is to take some of the oil to the lab for some checks. Apart from the fact that you have to know what to check for first and foremost, this is obviously impractical for a lot of people. Therefore, the best bet is to stick to the recommended oil change intervals above as closely as possible.

Best Oils to Use for a four-wheeler Vehicle

If you’re looking for the best oils to use for your four-wheeler, the first thing you should do is check your user manual to see the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Most manufacturers of four-wheeler vehicles also have in-house oil, which they recommend for use on their four-wheelers. Yamaha and Cam-Am are popular examples, with their YamaLube All-Purpose and Can-Am XPS 4-Stroke, respectively. Other oils may have extra advantages, but using the oil designed to work for the engine by the vehicle manufacturer covers all the basics at the very least.

If your manufacturer doesn’t have a product you can buy, they will provide specific recommendations on the type of oil you should use. Pay attention to the type of oil recommended, and most importantly, the viscosity. Armed with this information, you can head to the shop. 

Here are some of the best ATV Oil options in the market today:

Maxima ATV Premium Engine Oil

Since 1979, Maxima has been producing high-quality lubricants for all kinds of engines. Their racing history also means you can count on them to produce the right lubricant needed for high rev engines such as four-wheelers. The oil’s tolerance for heat and fluidity is without doubts some of the best you’ll find.

Amsoil 5W-50

The AMSOIL brand has become synonymous with synthetic oils. They’ve been producing lubricants for more than 40 years, focusing on providing a range of products suited for four-wheelers. Their 5W-50 is a popular option, but you can look through their range of products for other options.

Polaris PS-4 

Polaris is another popular brand in the oil niche. Their PS-4 has the right chemical composition to keep your four-wheelers running optimally. It also comes with an oil change kit, including an oil filter. So, going with this option can save you some money on useful accessories.

Honda 08C35-A141L01

This model from Honda comes with a viscosity grade of 10W-40, which means it will work well across a wide temperature spectrum. This oil is popular with motorbike owners, but it has also been proven to work well with four-wheelers.

Valvoline 4-Stroke

The Valvoline 4-stroke is one of the engine oils designed with four-wheelers in mind. Its chemical composition means it is non-detergent oil. This allows it to work perfectly without an oil filter. It’s also another product you can trust to work in all kinds of weather.

Conclusion

Your car oil can work with your four-wheeler. However, over an extended period, this approach will reduce the engine’s efficiency and ultimately shorten its lifespan. To keep the engine in your vehicle functioning optimally, you should only use either manufacturer-recommended oils or other options that have been proven to work for vehicles like your brand.

When you find the right oil, you should be sure to change the oil regularly—in line with your typical usage. The best four-wheeler oils will still fail if you don’t change when it’s due.

Levi Bath

I'm the co-creator of OffRoad Lifestyles. I live in Loveland, Colorado with my wife and 3 kids. My wife and I have spent a lot of time out on the sand dunes near Walden, CO and we both love offroading and camping.

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