Think of oil as the life blood of your car; like the blood in your body, your car’s oil serves a vital function. As the lubricant for its engine, oil allows engine components to operate without damage resulting from metal to metal contact. Metal friction creates a substantial amount of heat. Without oil, eventually the surfaces of the metal components would weld together, causing the engine to seize.
Why are oil changes necessary?
Oil needs to be changed regularly because your engine’s high operating temperatures lead to the thermal breakdown of oil. Oil becomes less effective as a lubricant as dirt accumulates in it. Though the filter traps much of the dirt, eventually the filter will clog and dirty oil will bypass the filter. As the contaminated oil becomes dirty and thick, it becomes abrasive, causing more component wear.
Another reason oil needs to be replaced is because it is formulated with additives. These additives improve the oil’s effectiveness and include detergents, dispersants, rust-fighters and friction reducers. When these additives break down, the oil does not lubricate as well as it should.
Neglecting regular oil changes will eventually result in poor engine performance. Clean oil performs much more efficiently than dirty oil, so regular oil changes are essential to vehicle’s performance and safety.
How often is an oil change necessary?
Typically changes should be performed every 3,000 miles but vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations may vary – you should always consult your owner’s manual to find out the proper schedule for your car. At the time of your oil change, your technician will also change your oil filter to protect the clean oil.
Next in our Taking Charge of Car Maintenance series, we will look at Tire Rotation.