The engine is the most important part of any car, thus keeping one in good health is extremely important. You want your engine to last longer and expect optimum performance out of it for a long period of time, of course without the need of major repairs since engine rebuilds are expensive and time taking as well.
However maintaining an engine in good health is much easier and inexpensive, all you have to do is to use quality engine oil & keep track of oil changes. Getting your oil changed is one of the least expensive auto maintenance services your car would need. Despite being relatively inexpensive, having your oil changed regularly and on schedule plays a critical role in maintaining your vehicle and saving you money.
Oil is the life blood of your car’s engine:
Oil helps keep several components inside an engine to work efficiently, over the period of time, exhaust gasses from the cylinders and small bits of metal will contaminate the oil and reduce its effectiveness. As you would know, the engine can get very hot from the thousands of small explosions taking place every minute; the heat from the engine also breaks down the oil. Just like any other fluid, heat will reduce the viscosity (thickness) of the engine oil. No matter how good the oil is, if it becomes too thin, it won’t lubricate the engine they way it should and parts will wear out faster. That’s why it is recommended to change the engine oil after a certain period of time.
When to change the engine oil?
Modern vehicles can go 5,000 or even 7,000 kilometers between oil changes. To know how long your vehicle can go between oil changes, you should consult your owner’s manual. Some new vehicles even have a complex monitoring system that evaluates your driving habits and various aspects of your engine oil to determine how long your oil will last. However if you are among the majority of car buyers and have purchased a second, third, or even tenth hand driven car, the vehicle is too old and the owner’s manual is long gone. The health of the engine isn’t on its peak either, in that case you will have to take certain things into consideration.
First & the foremost thing you need to understand is that the range mentioned in the owner’s manual is there to give you a certain idea about when to change the engine oil. The thing is, the vehicle mileage is calculated via the odometer readings on your dashboard. And the odometer becomes active only if your vehicle is moving. Now the job of your car’s engine begins as soon as you start the car, imagine all those instances like congested traffic, excessive idling, traffic jams etc when your car isn’t travelling but your engine is busy doing its job.
The best thing is to keep an eye on the engine oil, by checking it time to time in order to observe its viscosity and change in color. Good engine oil should turn black over the period of time, engine oil which does not turn black is a sign that the oil is not properly working. Modern engine oils contain detergent-dispersant additives that keep internal parts of an engine clean by removing carbon deposits and maintaining them in harmless suspension in the oil. It is better to have the carbon deposits in the oil so they can be drained off than to have them left as deposits in the engine where they could do the most damage.
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Considering your daily traveling and routes, you can evaluate when exactly do you need to change the oil. If your routes includes traveling in congested traffic when the number of kilometers may be less but the engine has to keep working for prolonged period of time you might want to change the oil after 3,000 kms, depending on your engine health & off course after examining the oil condition. If you drive on longer routes on higher gears, you might be able to stretch the intervals up to 5,000 kms but again it depends on your engine health. Driving in extreme weather or towing a lot of weight behind your car will also affect your engine oil.
Don’t forget the Oil filter:
Oil filters have a very important function in your engine’s lubrication system & plays an important role in protecting your engine from premature wear. All the moving parts inside the engine need clean oil to properly lubricate them. Tiny bits of metal chip off of various engine parts while it’s running. If these bits of metal are allowed to re-circulate through the oil, they could break off other bits of metal, which eventually will cause erosion in the engine.
A quality oil filter helps prevent this erosion from taking place. The oil filter cleans the oil as it passes through the filter and prevents abrasive contaminants from damaging the parts in the engine. Always change your oil filter whenever you are to change the engine oil and always use a quality product. Never compromise on this small yet important item as a quality oil filter and quality engine oil work together to help your car run more efficiently & ensures a longer engine life.
If you don’t change your engine oil for long, eventually the oil will get worse and worse, becoming more like sludge and will clog your engine. Engines are always expensive to clean and even more expensive to repair. Regular oil change is surely one of the easiest and the most inexpensive way to care for your engine.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com