Regularly changing your engine oil is crucial for maintaining the longevity and performance of your vehicle. Not only does it help to lubricate the moving parts in the engine, but it also helps to remove dirt and debris that can accumulate over time. In this page, we will be discussing the importance of changing your engine oil and answering some frequently asked questions.
Engine oil is a lubricant that is used to reduce friction and wear on the moving parts of an internal combustion engine. It also helps to cool the engine, clean it, seal it, and protect it from wear and corrosion. All engine oil loses its effectiveness over time and must be replaced to ensure optimal engine performance.
Let's take a look at what happens to engine oil over time and why you need to change the oil regularly.
Additives are added to base oils to reduce degrading processes in the engine and to improve the beneficial properties of the engine oil. For example, antioxidant additives help slow down the rate of oxidation.
Cleaning additives help prevent deposits and sludge while cleaning existing deposits. Anti-wear additives are added to some lubricants to create a protective barrier on metal components and prevent wear.
Base oils are the basic substance of every lubricant. Over time they lose their effectiveness due to the following factors: oxidation, high heat, humidity, loss of viscosity and fuel dilution.
The interaction between oxygen molecules and engine oil molecules leads to a chemical breakdown of the individual substances. Just as oxygen turns a sliced apple brown or rusts exposed metal, oxygen breaks down base oils and reduces the effectiveness of motor oil.
Today's engines run hotter than ever, with temperatures reaching 113°C.
Your vehicle is permanently exposed to temperature fluctuations, even if it is "only" parked in the garage. These temperature fluctuations lead to the formation of condensation in your engine, which settles in the engine oil, among other things.
Leaving the vehicle for long periods of time or taking short trips that do not allow the engine to fully warm up can allow water to remain in the oil instead of evaporating and escaping through the exhaust pipe. The water in the engine oil can lead to sludge formation.
The viscosity of a motor oil is one of its most important properties. It has a direct influence on wear protection. Your engine is designed to work best with engine oil of a certain viscosity (eg 5W-30).
The intense pressure that oil is subjected to as it is forced between moving parts such as the piston ring/cylinder wall interface can break down its molecular structure, resulting in loss of viscosity.
Over time, the 5W-30 motor oil that your engine was designed for is now essentially a 5W-20 oil and anti-wear protection may deteriorate.
Fuel can be forced past the piston rings and contaminate the engine oil, causing it to lose its viscosity. Frequent short trips that do not allow the oil to reach normal operating temperature can be particularly problematic as the fuel does not volatilize and cannot spill.
Excessive fuel dilution leads to sludge and fouling, necessitating more frequent oil changes.
Regularly changing your engine oil ensures that the lubricating properties of the oil are not compromised. Old oil can become thick, dirty and less effective in lubricating the engine's moving parts, which can lead to increased friction and wear on the engine. By changing the oil, you are ensuring that your engine is running smoothly and efficiently.
The recommended oil change interval can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as your driving habits. As a general rule, it is recommended to change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or every three to six months.
Yes, you can change your engine oil yourself. However, it is recommended to have a mechanic do it if you are not familiar with the process. Changing the oil is a straightforward process, but it is important to use the correct type of oil, and to properly dispose of the old oil. If you are not confident in your ability to change the oil, it is best to have a professional do it.