One of the very basic items to keep your vehicle running is motor oil. Outside of gasoline, it’s the number one thing you’ll change out on a routine basis.
But as you buy another can, or drive into your local service station for a motor oil change, have you ever wondered what would happen if you skipped it altogether? What if you waited a few months? What if you didn’t follow the guidelines? How bad could it be?
Many of the guidelines state that a car’s motor oil should be changed every 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. If you check your owner’s manual, depending on the vehicle you drive, it may push that up to 5,000 or more.
What should you believe?
What motor oil does
Before we get into how frequently you should change it out, let’s talk for a moment about what it does.
Motor oil has one purpose: it’s designed to keep your car running smoothly. It’s designed to lubricate the engine and help carry heat away from the engine compartment. As the motor oil circulates throughout the system, it continuously lubricates the thousands of parts that come together and make your vehicle operational. And at the same time, it helps dissipate heat, carrying it away from where it can do the most harm.
That makes motor oil pretty important, right?
Think of motor oil as the lifeblood of your vehicle. If it doesn’t have a high quality supply running throughout the system, it can function at peak performance. And that means things will start to wear down over time.
Fresh, clean motor oil will keep your car in its best possible condition.
If it degrades, your car will start to wear down.
What really happens without fresh motor oil?
Glad you asked. It’s important to keep in mind that every car reacts in its own unique way. Your car won’t suddenly wear out without new motor oil at 3,001 miles. It’s more of a gradual process.
As motor oil works and moves throughout the system, it picks up all kinds of dirt and debris. If it’s working well, it can push this debris away from the moving parts and into an oil filter. But if you don’t replace the filter (it’s part of a regular oil change), the filter will eventually become too clogged to do its job. That means whatever the motor oil pushes in, it bypasses it and leaves it within the system.
That’s when engine parts start to wear down. Instead of fresh, clean motor oil, dirty fluid is circulating throughout the system. And it might not be doing a very good job. It can be abrasive, causing parts to rub together in wrong ways. It might not keep each part properly lubricated.
Motor oil isn’t just oil. Instead, it’s a combination of oil and additives designed to keep your car running at its best. It has things like detergents, dispersants, rust-fighters and friction reducers all working together to provide your vehicle with what it needs to thrive. You know when you’re washing dishes and the soap bubbles eventually dissipate because of all the grime that makes its way into your sink? That happens to motor oil too. The additives can’t work the way they did when you first added motor oil to the system, not once the system is compromised.
So the oil gets thicker, dirtier, and loses the ability to do what it was designed to do – keep heat out of the engine compartment. Heat builds. Parts warp. Damage starts to occur. And your car might not drive quite the way it did before.
But you still might notice anything. You might continue driving.
This turns oil into sludge. The volume of dirt and grime becomes too much, and it can’t process it at all. It barely moves, loses most of its lubricating qualities, and brings no relief to your vehicle’s parts.
If you leave it this way for too long, the engine will seize, and stop working altogether.
A high quality motor oil change is something you’ll barely notice in your monthly budget. We guarantee you’ll feel the pain of replacing a seized engine. It can cause thousands of dollars to bring your car back into working condition.
What else happens along the way?
Now that you know what happens within the engine compartment itself, let’s talk about a few other things you should know.
Did you buy a new or used car with a warranty? The warranty is only good if you follow the rules. And if you read the fine print on the warranty itself, you’ll find that it states you have to service your vehicle according to a schedule. If you don’t service it according to factory guidelines, the warranty will be null and void. Yes, that means you should keep track of every motor oil change you do. For that matter, you should keep a record book of every maintenance item you do, just to be able to refer back and determine all that you’ve done to your vehicle over the years. It can also be something that gives you an edge when trying to sell it down the road.
And long before you face a seized engine, you’ll also find your vehicle shows poor engine performance. When detergents and lubricants aren’t working correctly, you’ll hear and feel your engine sputtering. It can materialize as poorer gas mileage too.
It’s time to change your motor oil today
There’s an adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And while that’s true for every system in your vehicle, it definitely applies here.
If you want a car that continues to operate well throughout its life, giving you the longest lifespan possible, it’s important to keep it working well.
You can do that easily just by pulling into our service station on a regular basis. Three or four times a year, for most.
It’s not about the money you’ll spend on new motor oil. It’s about the money you’ll save on repair bills down the road.