How Important are Regular Oil Changes?
We all know that you need to get your oil changed ever 3,000 - 5,000 miles, but why? You bring your car to the shop and sit there tapping the floor with your foot wondering why it's taking so long, trying to decide how long you can delay before your next oil change. Then there's the bill.
They always seem to tack on an extra charge that you weren't expecting. What's the big deal anyway? If you look in your car's manual it'll suggest how often you should get your oil changed, but it won't let on to the secret as to why. Luckily, getting your oil changed is one of the least expensive auto maintenance service your car needs. Despite it being relatively inexpensive, having your oil changed regularly and on schedule plays a critical role in preserving your vehicle and saving you money.
Oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. It keeps the many components of the engine working efficiently, and it helps reduce the accumulation of varnish and carbon from collecting on the engine. As you're aware, the engine can get very hot from the thousands of small explosions taking place every minute; oil helps pull the heat away from the combustion chamber essentially preventing the engine from blowing up. As oil collects heat, varnish and carbons during the course of protecting and keeping the engine running smoothly, it eventually becomes less like liquid and more like sludge. No matter how good the oil is, eventually it degrades as the additives get used up. That's when you should have your oil changed.
How often and what kind of oil should be used? It will depend on the type of oil you choose to use, what kind of car, and how often you drive. This is where your owner's manual will come in handy. The old adage suggests every 3 months or 3,000 miles. The amount of mileage you drive is more important than the amount of time. You may go on a road trip and burn through a few thousand miles in a few weeks, or it may take five months before you reach the recommended mileage. Pay attention to the odometer and how you've been driving your vehicle. Driving in extreme weather or towing a lot of weight behind your car will affect your oil too.
If you don't think you have the time or money to get your oil changed and you choose to wait, eventually the oil will get worse and worse, becoming more like sludge and clog your engine. Engines are expensive to clean, and replacing a worn-out piston is not an Auto repair bill you want to receive. Bottom line: It's worth the time and minimal cost of maintenance.