When do you need an oil change?
An oil and filter change service is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to prolong the life of your car. An oil and filter change should be performed on a regular and strict schedule.The car’s owner manual and the electronic indicator on the dash are good starting points for when to change your oil. Depending on the manufacturer, this interval can range from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles. However, these numbers are drawn from formulas for normal driving conditions – small temperature swings during the year in your area, driving the speed limit, a light foot on the pedal.
Most cars are driven under severe driving conditions – extreme temperatures, lack of warm ups, higher speeds and constant idling in traffic. Proper oil viscosity - thickness - is much more important under these operating conditions, but these conditions break down the viscosity more quickly. Therefore for the majority of cars on the road, the 3,000 mile interval for conventional oil and the 5,000 mile interval for synthetic oil make more sense.
Oil changes for aging cars should become more frequent. As engines age, many gaskets and seals used to hold the oil inside the engine become dry and porous allowing oil to leak. Also, as moving parts wear, particularly the cylinder rings, oil will pass into the combustion chamber and be burned. These worn parts also allow unburned fuel into the oil, which thins it out, making it less effective.
Why getting your oil changed regularly is important:
Engine oil is your cars most important fluid. It performs three major functions in today’s modern engines.Engine oil provides critical lubrication to the multiple moving parts within the engine, especially the valve train, where metal to metal rubbing is constant. This lubrication decreases the amount of friction between two metal moving pieces, which in turn keeps the engine from creating too much heat.
Engine oil carries away dirt, grime, carbon and metal particles before they can build up and wear engine parts. These contaminants are suspended in the oil until cleaned out by the oil filter. Equally as important to points 1 and 2 above, engine oil feeds many small switches in the car. When oil pressure increases these switches change valve timing (variable valve timing), which allows for increased fuel economy, decreased emissions and good power throughout the full torque spectrum.
What can happen if I don't get an oil change at the required interval?
Lack of frequent oil changes can lead to a variety of engine performance issues, and eventually lead to catastrophic engine failure. Engine oil is designed with a certain viscosity – thickness – where it can be thin at start-up of the motor to provide instant lubrication, but also retain a prescribed thickness at running temperature to provide good lubrication and heat dissipation. Over time the oil begins to break down, retaining moisture and grime as the filter becomes more clogged. The oil becomes thicker at start up temperatures and thinner at higher temperatures. At this point, if neglected, the oil becomes a sludge or gel-like substance. This sludge cannot move about the engine passages very well leaving many critical parts starved for lubrication.
Performance also suffers as the valve train switches do not receive proper oil pressure to change timing. Fuel mileage drops; emissions rise sharply. Do not think these issues are only in the realm of older, higher mileage cars – they have been found in cars with as little as 40,000 miles. Many manufacturers now require regular oil changes to maintain engine warranties. Remember that most modern cars employ less oil and smaller filters.
What does a typical oil change cost?
- Estimated oil change cost (conventional) = $20-$50
- Estimated oil change cost (synthetic) = $45-70
Almost all automotive service professionals can perform this service. Keep in mind, pricing will vary by location and your vehicle make and model. Save time and money by using Openbay to compare pricing and book an appointment with a service center in your area.
Service article written by an ASE Master Technician
If you want this service performed, Openbay can help get qualified automotive service professionals to perform the work for you.