What You Need to Know About Getting an Oil Change

Everyone is busy, and the last thing most people want to do with a free afternoon is spend it getting an oil change. Montgomery residents should understand, however, that putting your oil change off until later places you and your vehicle at risk. A regular oil change is a vital part of keeping your vehicle’s engine running properly. Oil plays a critical, multifaceted role, and probably handles more tasks within an engine than any other component, fluid, or material. In short, oil (and regularly changing your oil) is very important. For a fast oil change in Montgomery, AL, trust the auto service experts at Performance Auto.

What Does Oil Do?

Oil is an essential lubricant in your engine that allows metal to press against metal without tremendous friction or damage. The primary purpose of engine oil is to prevent the metal surfaces inside your engine from grinding together and shearing themselves apart from friction.

At the same time, engine oil works by transferring heat away from the combustion area. Without oil, the metal-on-metal friction creates so much heat that eventually the surfaces weld themselves together and the engine seizes.

If there is enough friction and wear on the engine’s parts, they will warp, distort and eventually stop working. Motor oil keeps everything in your engine properly lubricated and cools the moving engine parts by transferring heat away. It prevents rust and corrosion, seals tiny gaps between piston rings and cylinder walls, keeps surfaces clean, and eliminates harmful deposits.

How Oil Works

Oil has key additives to help protect your engine’s parts. It has a detergent that keeps dirt suspended, allowing it to move the dirt to the oil filter. Without this detergent, the dirt and crud would either stay in place or settle to the bottom of the oil pan. Oil also has anti-friction additives that melt out of the oil if metal ever touches, helping to prevent damage. Oil contains anti-corrosion additives that prevent metal parts from corroding. Lastly, it contains an anti-foaming agent to prevent bubbles when it’s whipped up by the moving metal parts.

Engine oil also reduces exposure of internal parts to oxygen which will cause oxidation at high temperatures. Oil’s anti-corrosion additive combats rust and other forms of corrosion. A variety of contaminants that can eat away at engine parts are constantly being introduced into the system. The engine’s oil must be able to hold all of the combustion by-products, such as silicon oxide and acids, in suspension. The oil in your engine works to clean the engine of these harmful chemicals and keeps the moving parts protectively coated.

Why Get an Oil Change?

As the oil moves through the engine, it picks up dirt, debris, and contaminants. While moving through the engine the oil is working under tremendous heat and pressure. The oil undergoes thermal breakdown due to this high operating temperature. When this breakdown occurs, the oil becomes less effective as a lubricant. As time passes, the old, contaminated oil becomes less effective, and allows the engine parts to rub together, causing the parts to wear out.

No matter how good the oil, eventually it will no longer perform effectively and you’ll need an oil change. Because with time and mileage, the oil’s additives get used up, causing the oil to degrade. As the oil degrades and becomes unclean, it will start to leave dirt and contaminants behind. An accumulation of dirt will prevent the oil from lubricating your engine properly, which will increase friction, operating temperatures, and ultimately engine wear. At this point, the oil must be changed before sludge and deposits build up. During the oil change, the dirt, debris and contaminants are removed with the old oil.

Over time, as the oil removes dirt and contaminants, it becomes thick and dark. The longer you wait before getting an oil change, the thicker and darker it will become. Waiting too long to have the oil changed will result in a black, gooey sludge at the bottom of your engine.

By neglecting to change your oil, you increase the wear and tear in your engine, which will dramatically shorten the lifespan of your engine. Simply put, avoiding an oil change is the worst thing you can do to your engine.

Importance of an Oil Change

The purpose of engine oil is to keep the internal parts of your vehicle’s engine lubricated and cool. Oil keeps the moving parts from grinding against each other, causing wear and damage. Fresh oil doesn’t stay fresh forever and dirty oil won’t lubricate the moving parts effectively. Without a regular oil change, dirt and sludge can build up in the engine which can lead to serious damage and major engine repairs. A regular oil change is extremely important in maintaining your vehicle and essential to keeping it running.

How Often Should I Get an Oil Change?

Old school philosophy says dictates a standard 3 months or 3,000 mile interval between oil changes. On the other hand, the vehicle manufacturers and oil companies are starting to claim the actual intervals should be greater. However, when the recommended interval is stated there will also be a warning for “exceptions” to this recommend interval concerning severe driving conditions. As a result of modern technology the lifespan of oil is better than ever, but the “health” of your oil is affected by many things, including heat, cold, and the severity of your driving conditions. If you think you don’t drive under severe conditions, first ask yourself how often you stop at stop signs or red lights, drive on dirt or gravel roads, drive fewer than 10 miles, or drive in stop and go traffic.

You should check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended schedule for your specific automobile. Also, keep in mind not only the number of miles you drive, but also the conditions in which you drive. Just remember, regardless of what you read or what anyone says, it is extremely important to have the oil changed. The longer you wait, the worse the situation will become for your engine.

Severe Driving Conditions

Most vehicle manufacturers have two classifications for driving conditions: normal and severe. Driving conditions impact how you care for your vehicle. It may surprise you to know that you experience what is considered “severe driving conditions” every day. With modern technology, motor oil does have a better lifespan than ever before; however, our driving habits and the conditions we drive under are worse. Regular oil changes are essential to keeping your car running, but driving conditions will affect when your vehicle will need to be serviced.

Many manufacturers are now recommending that you have the oil change at greater intervals than 3,000 miles, however, there is always a “warning” attached: if you drive under severe driving conditions, you will need to change your oil more frequently and recommend a 3,000 mile interval. Below is a list of what manufacturers consider as severe driving conditions.

Manufacture’s Considered Severe Driving Conditions:

•Drive in stop-and-go traffic.

•Drive short trips of less than five miles.

•Time spent idling; such as a stop sign or red light.

•Drive at higher rates of speed.

•Drive at speeds of less than 50 miles per hour for long distances.

•Drive on roads that are dusty, dirty or muddy.

•Drive on roads that have salt, sand, or gravel spread on the surface.

•Drive on steep hills or mountainous terrain.

•Drive in extremely hot temperatures – over 90 degrees.

•Drive in extremely cold temperatures – under 40 degrees.

•Starting your car multiple times in one day after the engine has cooled.

•Towing or hauling items such as a trailer, boat, or camper.

•Transporting items on a roof rack, car-top carrier, or cargo carrier.

According to the manufacturer, any one of the above conditions will make it mandatory to change the oil at the 3 month / 3,000 mile interval. It is estimated that more than 80% of automobiles fall into at least one classification of what manufacturers consider “severe driving conditions”. Severe driving conditions will cause the oil in your vehicle to get dirtier faster, decreasing the lifespan of the oil and reduces its ability to perform effectively.

Most drivers in our area drive under severe driving conditions: temperatures over 90 degrees, driving on a dirt or gravel road, idling at a red light, driving in stop-and-go traffic. This type of driving happens every day. So check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended service interval and then consult the Advanced Level ASE Certified Technicians at Performance Auto Repair to schedule proper maintenance intervals for  specifically designed for your vehicle and your driving conditions.

Replace Oil Filters

Every time you get an oil change, you should make sure to have your oil filter replaced. The dirt your oil picks up is deposited in the filter. When the oil is changed ¾ of a quart of oil remains in the filter. If you change the oil and do not have the filter replaced the old, contaminated oil will immediately mix with the new oil and automatically contaminate the clean oil you’ve just put into your car.

Dirty filters also run the risk of clogging. If your filter clogs, you run the risk of damaging the engine. Filters have an emergency bypass valve that will allow oil to enter your engine without going through the filter if it’s clogged. If your filter is clogged, your car will have no choice, but to use that bypass valve, flooding your engine with dirty oil that can end up shortening your engine’s lifespan.

So, whether you get an oil change every 3,000 miles or wait a bit longer between oil changes, bring your car, truck or SUV to Performance Auto Repair for a quality oil change performed by one of our expert technicians.

For a fast, affordable oil change in Montgomery, AL, call the experts at Performance Truck & Auto Repair at (334) 245-6600.