Q What oil should I use in an automatic Mini? Usually I’ve used 20W50 in every Mini I’ve had, but those were manuals, and this is a later Japanese import car with a 1275 injection engine. I can’t find any hard and fast answers on this, and I’m keen not to cause any damage to the gearbox. Sometimes in the cold it seems reluctant to select gears, so I’m hoping new oil will help. Sarah
A Ultimately, whatever Rover recommended for the automatic gearbox equipped Minis is the way to go. Typically this was the Unipart 10W40 oil. That stuff was not specially formulated for Unipart, but provided by a major oil manufacturer in their tins. The oil would have to have conformed with SAE oil legislation so would have been the same as almost any other 10W40 oil on the market. I say ‘almost; as Unipart/Rover may have specified a higher than usual ZDDP (lubricative chemicals essential for anti-scuffing of metal surfaces) content to protect the cam and followers. Experience of the oils supplied at that time, I would say they did not. Many later A-plus engines show cam follower wear consistent with a lack of these protective, essential chemicals.
Making oil recommendations has become a very trepidatious issue. Recent events have lead me to drop completely a previously highly-recommended product because there has been a dramatic change that is not at all favourable. And going by the SAE-recommended oil content and recognised conformity tag is no good either, as the vast majority of modern off-theshelf available oils are formulated for modern-designed engines. These are produced using far greater manufacturing precision, material types and heat treatments, and thus don’t need the chemical content required to protect older-designed pushrod type engines. I use and highly recommend Torco oils. They have performed with consistent perfection for me since 1991 when I first cam across them. Joe Gibbs ‘Driven’ oil range is developing a good reputation, while Penritre and Castrol are also up there among the front runners for the older push-rod, classic engines.
What oil for an auto?