As part of regular car maintenance, you already know that an oil change is about as basic as it comes. Whether you follow the time rule, the mileage rule or you just wait for that little light to pop up on your dash imploring you to please change your oil, you know that oil must be changed at some point to keep your car running.
What is an Oil Change?
When you walk in for an oil change and hand over your keys, the knowledgeable mechanics take over. The process is fairly straightforward but necessary. Old oil is drained and replaced with new, fresh oil. They should also be replacing the oil filter at this time. A clean car, inside and out, is a happy car – that runs well.
The bottom line to any oil change schedule is that you want to make sure it gets down before the old oil starts negatively affecting your car. There are a number of ways you can determine the right time for an oil change, though. The most common measure is by mileage. The number of miles traveled after a change is a very safe rule of thumb to follow. Depending on your oil (regular, synthetic, etc.) and your car itself, the amount of miles you can go will vary. Sometimes it is every 3,000 miles, sometimes 5,000 or even up to 10,000 miles allowed before an oil change. If you are going to be on a long road trip, it’s best to get an oil change right before leaving.
Other factors to consider include your vehicle’s total load, or carrying weight. Frequently stressing gears by pulling a heavy trailer means you will need to change your fluids more frequently. Climate can also play a part at different times of the year. Heat waives, cold spells or rapid fluctuations in temperature could mean you need an oil change more often.
You can also refer to the manufacturer’s recommendation on oil changes. (That means dusting off that owner’s manual from the recesses of the glove box.) Their recommendation can help you stay ahead of the game in keeping your car running well.
Why is an Oil Change even Necessary?
It’s time for some oil change science! The high heat that happens inside a car engine is enough to break down the oil it needs to run. And, since oil is in your car to act as a lubricant, you don’t want to run out of it. The more or harder you drive, the faster your oil is burned through. And this means less lubrication for gears and parts. When this happens, those parts rub together, creating friction, wearing them out and leading to expensive replacements. The easy solve? Regular oil changes.
Further, additives found in oil can neutralize harmful acids that would lead to corrosion. As with anything, they are of a limited quantity. This means they get used up and stop working if oil is left too long. Also, oil has properties of absorption and can soak up harmful water, dust and debris. Those particles, then, are stopped from entering the sensitive inner workings of an engine. Eventually, the oil can’t absorb any more and debris find their way into the engine, causing corrosion.
What if you Skip or Postpone Oil Changes?
It’s not gonna be pretty. Without regular changes, you can be guaranteed your engine won’t last as long. Clean oil keeps cars running safely. At the end of the day, an oil change is not that expensive, but an engine replacement can break the bank.
Keeping your care road-ready goes a long way in staying safe.