Engine oil is what lubricates a car’s engine, allowing it to run smoothly and last longer. Car owners must maintain a car’s engine by changing the oil and using the oil appropriate for their cars make and model. Every car comes with a “check oil” light and an oil filter under the hood. These components allow car owners to monitor their oil levels and add oil as needed without having to hire a mechanic.
Changing the Oil
An important part of routine car maintenance is changing the oil regularly. The necessary frequency of oil changes has become a point of contention among experts. The Engine Oil Bible maintains that engine oil can’t be changed often enough, but Nordic Group insists that, with the advent of detergent oils and multi-weight oils, some vehicles can go as far as 6,000 miles before needing an oil change. The best course of action is to check the owner’s manual and follow manufacturer’s recommendations.
An obvious benefit of changing one’s own oil is saving money, but oil change services frequently advertise bargains. If the “check engine oil” light comes on while driving, this is a strong indication that the car is running low on oil. A driver does not need a mechanic to add oil. However, if the oil light stays on or lights up shortly after adding oil, there may be a leak, and a mechanic should look at the car.
As engine technology advances, recommended oil change intervals have gotten longer. High quality oil in a well-engineered engine has led to extended intervals.
Here’s the problem: With longer oil change intervals, Back in the day of 3 months or 3,000 miles (4,500 kilometers), if you went an extra month or an extra 1,000 mies (1,500 kilometers), your oil was still fresh enough that it didn’t have time to build up much sludge.
But if your recommended interval is 6,500 miles (10,500 kilometers) and you go over another thousand, you’re getting into heavy sludge territory.
Minneapolis area motorists absolutely need to follow mileage intervals very closely. And, Bloomington drivers, don’t forget your severe service schedule. If you do a lot of stop and go driving, short trips around the Bloomington area, drive in dusty or polluted MN conditions, hot or cold weather or haul heavy loads, you’re driving in severe service conditions. Is your driving closer to the regular schedule or the severe service schedule? It’s your call as to when to change your oil to protect your engine.
If your car came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended oil change interval is for synthetic oil. If you use conventional oil, you shouldn’t use the synthetic interval; you need to shorten it.
RJ’s Auto Repair service advisors often report that when they talk to someone with 200,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) or more on their vehicle, the owner will say their secret is changing the oil on time. Please don’t skip an oil change. Once sludge has started to build up, it’s tough to get out.