The Importance of Getting a Regular Oil Change
Routine maintenance can be a hassle. We all have better things to do than bringing our car every few months to get things checked and the oil changed. Whether we need to take off work to go to a service center or it just gets in the way of having fun, the time we take in bringing our car in for an oil change takes away from the time to do the things we need or want to do. No one wants to be stuck searching for an “oil change near me” when there are things to do. However, this attitude could cause you problems if you ignore your car’s needs. So, how important is it to change your oil? Well, we at Romeoville Toyota in Romeoville, IL, are about to tell you.
Your car’s engine has many moving parts. The engine oil lubricates all these gears and bearings, making sure your engine runs smoothly and efficiently. The oil also keeps heat from building up in the engine, as heat is the enemy of the engine’s performance. It also takes away minute bits of metal caused by the engine’s performance and carries them off to be captured in the oil filter. However, over time, the oil begins to break down, requiring it to be changed. If you neglect this, you could reduce the performance of your car’s engine and, worse, do serious damage to the powertrain. Let’s take a closer look.
Oil Lubricates and Protects Your Engine
Your vehicle’s engine consists of many working parts, including the block, crank, rods, pistons, heads, valves, cams, intake and exhaust, and the ignition system. The parts work together to power your vehicle down the road. However, as they work, they create friction, which leads to heat. As the heat builds up, parts can grind together and, if not properly lubricated, wear down.
This wear-and-tear reduces the overall performance of the engine. Eventually, if untreated, this can lead to your car’s engine seizing up. This is when the ball bearings that provide the smooth movement between the camshaft and crankshaft become welded in place, stopping your engine altogether. When this happens, you are faced with a potentially expensive repair or, worse, a complete engine rebuild.
To avoid this, you need to make sure that you have the proper amount of engine oil to lubricate and cool the parts, preventing a seized engine. The oil will carry away minute bits of metal that are a byproduct of the functioning of the engine. These bits are trapped in the oil filter, so they don’t cause problems with the continued functioning of the engine. Nevertheless, over time, the filter gets full of these imperfections reducing the ability to continue to filter the oil efficiently.
In addition, your car’s engine oil will eventually breakdown from usage and engine heat. This is what is meant by the term losing viscosity. The oil will stop being slick and start getting a sludgy quality, making it more difficult to lubricate the engine parts and absorb the heat from friction. This will reduce the engine’s efficient and effective performance. To avoid this, you will need to get the oil changed at regular intervals.
How Often Should I Get an Oil Change?
There are a number of factors that will affect how often you need to get an oil change. Many mechanics recommend getting your oil changed every 3,000 miles. However, many automakers suggest waiting 5,000 miles between oil changes if you use conventional oil. If your car uses a synthetic engine oil, you can sometimes go up to 10,000 miles between oil changes. You should check your vehicle’s manual for how often you will need an oil change. Although, many newer cars will even alert you when it is time to get your oil changed.
Other factors will also influence how often you need an oil change. During the summer, the added heat from the atmosphere will result in increased engine heat, making your engine oil have to work extra hard to keep the parts lubricated while reducing the extra heat from the climate. Surprisingly, cold weather will also reduce the life of your engine oil. This is because the extreme cold of winter will harm the viscosity of the oil. You may need to get your oil changed more often during this time of year.
Your driving habits can also affect your engine oil’s life. If you like to drive fast or take your vehicle off-road, this will also have an impact on your need for an oil change. Driving fast increases engine heat, which will break down the oil faster. Driving off-road will add dust to your engine that needs to be removed to the oil filter. If you don’t replace the oil filter, it could clog, reducing overall engine performance. Finally, older cars will generally need more frequent oil changes than new ones. At the end of the oil change, you should ask the technician how soon you can wait until the need for the next service appointment. This way, you can be prepared and even put it down on your personal schedule.
Can I Change the Oil Myself?
Some handy people like to do their own routine vehicle maintenance. This sounds easy but can be a very complicated procedure if you do not have the proper tools and have never done one before. First, you will need some way to lift your vehicle, such as a ramp or a jack. These are not easy tools to use and could make changing the oil on your vehicle physically dangerous if you do not take the proper precautions.
Second, you are going to need the specific oil for your vehicle’s engine. Using the wrong oil, such as a synthetic when your engine uses conventional oil or using one with the wrong grade, can do serious damage to the engine. You are also going to need a replacement oil filter, an oil pan, an oil-filter wrench, and a funnel. The replacement oil filter will have to be the exact one for the make and model of your car.
Finally, you will need to have an environmentally compliant way of disposing of the waste oil you will be removing from your car. Simply pouring it down a storm sewer drain is hazardous to the environment and could subject you to severe liability for pollution. Do not change your oil yourself if you do not have a proper place to dispose of it.
Changing the oil is not only time consuming, but it is also very messy and could be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. That is why it probably makes the most sense to take your vehicle to a local service center where trained technicians can take care of the oil and oil filter change in a safe and efficient way. It might cost you a few dollars, but you will get the peace of mind knowing that your vehicle has received professional service.
Change Your Oil
Changing or getting a vehicle’s oil changed is not a difficult task, and it can prevent real problems. If you don’t change the oil regularly, you can reduce overall engine performance and, in the long run, do some real damage to your car’s engine. Getting an oil change is just part of the routine maintenance that you should already be doing on your vehicle, and it is best when it is done by a trained professional technician. So if it’s been a while since you got your oil changed, you should get on it; make an appointment with us at Romeoville Toyota!