Why is your oil change so important?
Oil changes may seem mundane, but if your car is maintained correctly you must change your oil as it is a crucial part of your vehicle and should always be part of your recurring maintenance. The fewer surprises your car throws at you the better and Performance Auto Repair in Montgomery, AL wants you to know just how important your oil changes are.
The oil in your engine is essentially its lifeline. It protects moving parts from rust, friction, and cleans your engine by absorbing carbon buildup and debris. When you neglect an oil change, that oil saturated with dirt, and debris begins to work against you. First, small particles in the oil wreak havoc on bearings and small oil journals. If neglected for too long, oil begins to break down or coagulate, inefficiently lubricating moving parts and clogging passageways. Old oil will destroy an engine, either through bearing and part wear or oil starvation, or both at the same time. Too much wear on internal engine parts will cause the engine to fatally malfunction, sooner rather than later.
What does oil do?
Oil is an essential lubricant for your engine, it allows the metal to press against other metal without creating 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. The 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.
What are the other benefits of a regular oil change?
- Improved engine performance: Clean oil and a fresh air filter will keep all the important parts of your engine clean and lubricated. This creates a smoother and quieter ride. A smooth running engine has a positive effect on multiple areas of your vehicle.
- Prevents debris build-up: Older oil will stick to engine parts. This can turn into debris, clog up areas, and create build up. Changing the oil and filter regularly remove and prevent this nasty build up. If you do the majority of your driving on dirt roads you will need more regular oil changes.
- MPG: As mentioned above, regular oil changes offer up improved lubrication. Newer, cleaner oil reduces friction that can slow your engine which means you’ll end up paying more money for gas. New, clean oil also helps your engine run cooler. A cooler engine is more efficient. Anti-freeze and oil work together to cool your engine together. If one isn’t working right it negatively affects the other one.
- Cleaner emissions: Older cars, trucks, RVs, and SUVs can burn old, dirty oil which increases emissions. Dirty oil allows hydrocarbons to build up in the crankcase. If the oil is dirty the emissions levels can raise. Brand new oil is much less likely to burn and can also absorb particles which means less pollution.
- Longer engine life: Whether you live in the city, suburbs or country your engine will get dirt and debris stuck inside of it. If you change your oil there is less friction. With less friction, there is much less wear and tear. With less wear and tear means a much longer engine life. If you change your oil regularly, there is less carbon build-up. Altogether this will save you money in the long run. Replacing an engine can cost quite a bit of money.
- Other car parts: Clean, new oil doesn’t only protect the engine. It also protects other car parts that are constantly in motion. Oil lubricates the crankshaft and the connection rods. This controls the pistons from going up and down when your engine is on. The cylinder walls allow the rings to build up better compression when lubricated. The camshaft is the valve train that opens and closes the engine tank and exhaust valves. The oil keeps this lubricated and moving efficiently as well.
- Other issues: If you get a regular oil change then the other parts of your vehicle will also get checked. We offer affordable oil changes and will also check for other issues while you are here.
- Warranty: Most terms of a warranty include regular oil changes. If you don’t follow these terms it could void the contract.
How Often Should I Get an Oil Change?
The Golden Rule of Thumb is to drive 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 months/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 the 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.
Since it is a lot easier to keep an engine internally clean than it is to clean up a dirty one, and since proper lubrication is the most important aspect of engine longevity, you can see why proper oil maintenance is such a priority. Get your oil changed on time, and don’t skip the oil filter replacement. The next time your car is ready for an oil change, or any other services from brake pads to major engine issues, let the experts at Performance Auto Repair in Montgomery, AL handle it. We’ll keep your car maintained so you can avoid breakdowns and get the most out of your car, truck, or SUV.
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