Having a vehicle is a necessity for most people. While there are certainly enthusiasts out there who love cars, the vast majority of us need our automobiles to get us from point A to point B reliably. This is a reasonable expectation that sometimes becomes unreasonably expensive. But, does it have to be?
Spending money on your car is unavoidable. Everything you own requires maintenance at some point or another. But, if you aren’t diligent with your upkeep, you could actually be making things more expensive for yourself than they need to be. There are ways to maintain your car, extend its life, and save money in the long run by cutting down the chances of needing more serious automobile repairs or a full replacement.
Extending the Life of Your Vehicle
Many of the suggestions you’ll see about how to extend the life of your vehicle are objectively true (and obvious) but not the most practical. For example, the number one way to keep your car going for longer? Not driving it as much. You can’t really argue there, but how many people are just driving for miles for no reason? With the exception of opting to fly instead of driving cross country, there are few ways to reduce how often and how far you need to drive your car in order to get things done. Short trips (under about ten minutes) are another contributor to wear and tear due to the presence of water and rusting that occurs in the engine. Again, though, a short ten-minute drive translates to a much longer walk that may not be feasible if you’re going to the grocery store to pick up food for an entire week.
So, what is in your power to change that you might not be doing currently? Well, do you remember the last time you had your oil changed? If you don’t and you routinely ignore the reminder sticker your mechanic might have placed on your windshield, chances are it’s been far too long. Changing your oil regularly is not only important, it’s one of the major ways you can extend the life of your engine.
But, what are the facts when it comes to changing your oil? When should you bring it in to have it done? What kind of oil should you use? What’s so bad about not being on top of your oil maintenance? We’ll have the answers to these questions and more. We’re going to try to provide you with everything you’ve ever wanted to know about maintaining your automobile oil.
Let’s get started.
The Effects of Not Changing Your Oil
First, what’s so bad about not being diligent with your oil changes? It turns out you could be doing quite a bit of damage to your engine if you’re going too long between oil changes. While the “oil is a car’s lifeblood” analogy is a little exaggerated, you could be significantly shortening your engine’s “lifespan” if you leave old oil in for too long.
What happens is as oil is exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods of time, which in a car is always, the anti-oxidizing and anti-wear additives break down. To put it simply, this is how you get that nasty looking sludge build up in your engine which basically gums up the works and chokes it, causing the engine to break down faster. This makes it difficult to perform its lubricating function, which means there is greater friction in all of those moving metal pieces.
Damaging substances also build up over time in your oil and your filter can’t catch it all. Tiny particles of metal and dirt will continue to cycle through in your fluid, wearing down the engine due to abrasion. All of that dirt and dust can even affect the air intake because it gets past the filter.
The bottom line is, all of these compounding problems which will require more expensive auto repairs down the line can be avoided if the oil is changed enough so there isn’t a chance for all of these particles to build up. You could be taking years off your car if you aren’t changing your oil regularly. When should you change it, then?
When Should You Change Your Oil?
The short, vague answer is “It depends.” That’s true because auto and oil technology have made the hard rules not as final as they once were. But you’d still probably be wise to stick to them.
You’ve probably heard about the 3,000 miles or three months (whichever comes first) rule and it’s a good one to follow even if your particular vehicle can go a bit longer without that oil change. Many modern vehicles come with recommendations of 5,000 miles. Some even feel that 7,500 is a better number. 5,000 miles is a good, safe number to stick with if you feel that 3,000 is too frequent.
Also, keep in mind that if you put more wear and tear on your car by, say, rushing from red light to red light, you’ll need to change your oil more frequently.
What Kind of Oil Should You Use?
If you walk into any auto repair store, you’ll notice that the shelves are lined with a wide variety of motor oils and you may not be sure what to choose. A few factors come into play here, including the weather you’ll be experiencing and the make of your vehicle. Winter weather requires different oil than more temperate seasons. Your owner’s manual will tell you what type of oil is recommended for your particular vehicle.
Often the conventional oil vs synthetic question comes up. Again, your owner’s manual will have that information. Synthetic oil is more expensive and generally are for high tech engines like one would find in a Corvette. Not every engine needs them and in fact, your engine may actually need conventional oil instead. There are also synthetic blends which are popular with SUV drivers because they offer high load protection. Synthetic blends also aren’t much more expensive than conventional oil. Again, reference the recommendations in your owner’s manual.
There is also higher-mileage oils specifically designed to meet the needs of vehicles that have passed that 75,000 miles mark. They should slow down some of the wearing down process in the engine which occurs over time thanks to the anti-wear additives found in these high mileage oils.
Of course, if you’re shopping around for oil, that implies you want to do the oil change yourself. While the difficulty of doing so is moderate, many people don’t have the space, time, or interest in dealing with mess to change their oil themselves.
Have you ever thought so much about your car’s oil? If you haven’t, now you know why you should and why it’s so important to get regular maintenance performed on your automobile. Changing your own oil can be tricky. Not everyone feels comfortable doing it, and if you do have the time and the know how, you’re aware of how much of a mess it is. Why not have the professionals change your oil for you? Schedule an appointment with us today. The team at Independent Motors is here to meet all of your automobile maintenance needs with friendliness and professionalism. Remember, our team doesn’t work off any commission and is dedicated to helping you at a fair price.