Regular Oil and Filter Changes Makes Sense And Saves Dollars

by Don Elliott on August 21, 2012

Your car’s engine oil is designed to lubricate the moving parts and gather up any particulate matter, soot and dirt produced by combustion. Heat gradually reduces the oils ability to provide “slipperiness” within the engine and its capacity to carry the particulate matter to the filter. If the oil and filter are not changed at regular intervals, particulate matter builds up in the oil until the oil becomes thick, restricting its ability to lubricate critical engine parts. Very thick oil becomes sludge and will cause the engine to fail.

Automobile enthusiasts and auto repair technicians debate how often the oil and filter should be changed to maintain engine performance and assure used car value . The standard interval for an oil change has been 3000 miles, the most often required service as part of regular car maintenance . By following a few basic guidelines, drivers can make better decisions when choosing oil change intervals.

Manufacturer Recommendations – Any vehicle that is within the manufacturer’s new car warranty period should follow the manufacturer’s recommended oil change  interval to assure warranty coverage. Recommendations vary from every 3000 miles to every 10,000 miles or more. Check the owner’s manual to find the right schedule for your car.

Driving Conditions – Oil change intervals listed in the manufacturer’s recommendation are generally conditioned on “normal driving conditions”. Severe conditions would include very cold or very hot weather, extreme humidity, dusty conditions, stop and go traffic, frequent short trips and towing a trailer or carrying heavy loads. Change your oil more frequently if your driving conditions are more severe.

Oil Type – Choices include petroleum, synthetic, and blended oil types. Synthetic oils cost more but don’t break down as fast as petroleum oils and, therefore, last longer. The Society of Automotive Engineers provides numerical guidelines regarding the proper viscosity, or “slipperiness,” of engine oil. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the correct SAE rating (e.g. 10W-30) for the oil, petroleum or synthetic, you choose for your car.

Filtration – Change the filter at every oil change, regardless of the interval. Oil filters have gotten smaller (pint-sized versus quart sized) over time, causing them to loose their filtering capability sooner. Filters have also gotten less expensive, making them a good investment at each oil change.

Whether you change your own oil, use a “quick-change” service, or your automobile dealership’s service department, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations whenever possible. The cost of an oil change with the correct oil and a good quality filter is considerably less than the damage that can be done to your car’s engine if not properly maintained.

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