What Should My Oil Temp Be? [QUICK TECH]

A question we get asked all the time, is how hot is too hot for my engine oil, and how cold is too cold?

To get straight to the point while there is no hard and fast rule for every and any engine out there, in general for a 4 cylinder performance engine we are at our oils optimum temperature range between 100 and 110 degrees Celsius. Note the use of the word optimum, as that is different to maximum or minimum.

Even once we know this though, inevitably many people have 2 great follow-up questions.

In this article: How Hot Is Too Hot? | How Cold Is Too Cold? | Where Can I Learn More?

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What Happens If My Engine Oil Is Too Hot?

Will you damage your engine if you go hotter than 110 degrees Celsius? Potentially, yes you can do some damage if your oil temperature gets too high, but the damage will more likely stem from your oil pressure dropping if the viscosity of your oil is too low for such conditions rather than the lack of modern synthetic oils ability to lubricate. Some teams will happily run their engine oil temps as high as 120-130 degrees Celsius for example using a higher viscosity oil to suit, but their target is still 100-110 degrees Celsius and the higher viscosity oil is just a band-aid for the conditions or other limitations.

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What Happens If My Engine Oil Is Too Cold?

If your oil temp is too low it tends to become contaminated easily as it doesn't get the opportunity to boil off contaminants which can lead so small losses of power at best and premature engine wear at worst, particularly to your pistons/bores and bearings.

It might seem like you're more likely to have issues being too hot rather than too cold, but in our experience, low oil temperatures are a common issue with performance street cars which as set up for the track, but then spent 90% of their time driven on the road. The trouble with a many street cars is that even with a thermostatic oil cooler sandwich plate, the oil temp on the street sits around 70-80 degrees Celsius, which is a little low with many tuners and racers getting oils temperatures to a minimum of 80-90 degrees Celsius before hitting the track or putting an engine under load on a dyno.

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Where Can I Learn More?

We have a suite of courses covering performance engine building and data analysis which both apply to this topic and many more in the world of performance vehicles for both the street and race track.

Why not start with a free lesson on performance engine building, you can claim your spot here and start instantly or choose a later date.

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