Getting an oil change is one of those little chores that keeps coming back around. “Didn’t I just get that changed?” is a common question when the check engine light comes on. Because it’s a task that never seems done, how bad can it really be to put off for a few hundred miles more?
What Does the Oil in My Car Do?
Oil is the lifeblood of a vehicle. In its purest form, it operates as a lubricant and it absorbs heat produced by the engine. It flows through an engine’s lubrication system to the motor to ensure efficient engine performance. Oil is stored in the system’s oil pan before it moves through oil galleries to the oil pump, through a filter to remove any impurities from the oil, and through the motor.
As the oil progresses, it leaves behind a film which minimizes friction and allows all of the engine’s components to move smoothly. This cuts down on component wear, extending a vehicle’s service life. Because of its role, oil breaks down over time and use. When oil stops being the color of honey and more like the hue of dirty road runoff, you know it’s time for an oil change.
When Should I Change My Oil?
3,000 miles has historically been the hinge point for changing out a vehicle’s oil. However, with improvements in engine efficiency, build tolerances, and the general quality of oils, oil life is, as a general rule, dramatically extended. It is now more common for a vehicle to run for 5,000 or even 10,000 miles (depending on the oil used) before a change is needed. This is especially true if a vehicle takes synthetic oil.
The exact range your vehicle will go before an oil change is necessary is dependent on many factors. A vehicle’s efficiency suffers if it frequently tows heavy loads or spends a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic. Your vehicle’s operator’s manual will offer recommendations on which oil to use and the mileage at which you should change your oil.
What Happens if I Wait Too Long for an Oil Change?
If you’ve ever driven way past your recommended oil change mileage and been fine, it’s easy to assume that the sticker the mechanic places in your window is just a trick to get more business. However, not getting an oil change in a timely manner can be highly detrimental to your vehicle. As oil breaks down, it loses its lubrication efficacy and it does not absorb heat properly.
The entire purpose of motor oil is to improve the efficiency of your vehicle. Only oil that has not been thoroughly degraded can efficiently lubricate the engine and absorb heat produced by the engine working. Your car will run better if you change the oil regularly.
Warp the Engine
If oil is too degraded to properly absorb heat, the pieces of the engine can warp as they are not designed to withstand such temperatures for long periods of time. Depending on the severity of the damage, warped engine components or the entire engine will need to be replaced.
Void the Warranty
Neglecting to attend to timely oil changes is considered negligence when it comes to warranties. If you put off an oil change for too long, it may completely void your vehicle’s warranty, especially if you bought it new.
If you put off changing your oil long enough, your engine, left without any lubricant, will lock up completely. When this happens, the engine has to be replaced. Replacing an engine can cost thousands of dollars.
Oil Changes at Ray’s Muffler
Driving your vehicle a couple of hundred miles past the maintenance schedule isn’t likely to lead to dramatic problems. That being said, if you forget and run a thousand or more miles over or if your vehicle is running low on oil, your engine will suffer. The oil is there to improve the efficiency of your engine, so making sure it is at the proper levels and is relatively pure can only improve your driving experience.
Regular maintenance can also allow you to catch any engine or oil problems early on, which could save you thousands of dollars in repairs. While oil changes rarely crop up at convenient times, they are more convenient than being without a car while it gets repaired or replaced. If it’s time for your vehicle to get an oil change, come see us at Ray’s Muffler.