Why Motor Oil is Essential For a Healthy Engine
While your car’s engine might seem incredibly complex, it’s actually a surprisingly simple piece of machinery. Today’s cars include a huge amount of technology, but the fundamentals of their engines haven’t changed that much in the last 50 years.
Motor oil keeps your engine’s moving parts cool and reduces friction and wear.
The basic function of an engine is simple: using petrol, a hugely concentrated fuel that’s capable of producing lots of energy, a car’s engine creates thousands of tiny, controlled reactions every minute to create motion and propel your car forward.
Car engines involve hundreds of moving parts, both small and large. There’s also a huge amount of friction going on inside the average car’s engine, with strong metal components working together constantly to produce momentum.
Because of this, your car’s engine needs a lubricant to help ensure its components can move smoothly together. This is where engine oil comes into the equation as a vital lubricant that keeps your car’s engine operating as smoothly as possible.
What does motor oil do?
In many ways, motor oil is your car’s lifeblood. It’s the single component that has a greater effect on your engine’s health and longevity than anything else – one of the essentials of motoring that, when forgotten, has serious consequences for your car.
Motor oil does several things, but its most important job is preventing the various metal components inside your car’s engine from rubbing against one another and producing wear and tear.
The components that make up your car’s engine are strong and durable, but they’re also surprisingly delicate when in operation. A lack of oil can lead to them grinding up against each other, causing cracks to develop and destroying your car’s engine.
As well as lubricating your engine’s moving parts, motor oil also performs a cooling role. Engines produce a lot of heat, especially when pushed to their limit – heat that motor oil absorbs in order to cool the moving parts in your car’s engine.
Motor oil also plays a role in cleaning your engine by removing the substances that are created when fuel is burned, preventing the internals of your car’s engine from becoming worn down and inefficient.
Why motor oil needs to be replaced
When is your car’s next oil change due? It’s important to keep track of your car’s oil condition, especially if you drive your car often or frequently work its engine on the track or on the highway.
When motor oil isn’t replaced on time, an oily sludge known as “black death” – not that black death, but an automotive-related one – can cause your engine to become less efficient and, in some cases, even seize.
In the early 1980s, car engines had developed rapidly, outpacing the development of suitable motor oils. Newer, more powerful engines pushed motor oil to its limits and many vehicles suffered serious breakdowns and engine problems.
Thanks to the oil-related engine problems that affected many cars in the 1980s, the motor oil of today is available in a variety of different quality grades, each designed for a different type of engine.
Failing to replace your car’s oil on type might not give it the black death, but it could lead to a huge range of reliability issues. If your oil is severely overused, it may even result in your car’s engine seizing, requiring extremely expensive repairs.
How often should you change your car’s motor oil?
The longer your car goes without an oil change, the dirtier and less effective its oil will become. Over time, your car’s engine oil will pick up dirt, dust and other types of grit that make their way into your engine, dramatically increasing its viscosity.
This makes it far less effective as an engine lubricant and as a core component of your engine’s cooling system. Leave your oil change too late and your car’s motor could very well seize up on you while you’re driving.
Luckily, it’s extremely easy – and extremely affordable – to change your motor oil and keep your car’s engine clean. Your car’s handbook will provide a mileage guide to help you know exactly when it’s time to change your car’s oil.
With most vehicles, you’ll want to get your car’s oil replaced every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Sports cars might require more frequent oil changes, especially if you drive them to their limit and keep the engine operating at high RPMs.
Likewise, if you drive your car in extremely hot or cold weather – for example, in a tropical climate or through winter snow – you’ll put a greater strain on its engine, requiring more frequent oil changes.
Which type of motor oil should you choose?
There are lots of different motor oils on the market, from synthetic oils to motor oils of all different weights and standards. Using the right oil will give your car the best combination of performance, reliability and protection.
I always feel so clueless when I go get an oil change and they try to talk to me about different types of motor oil.
— Lisa (@lisa_occhiblu) January 17, 2015
If you’re unsure of which oil is right for you, check your car’s manual to see which oil the manufacturer recommends. Your car’s manufacturer will list the right oil weight and the right type of oil, making it easy to pick a reliable choice.
If you drive your car in a particularly hot or cold climate, ask the shop assistant for advice on the best oil weight for your car. The properties of oil change based on its average temperature, making weight a big factor in your car’s performance.
Finally, consider using synthetic motor oil instead of standard motor oil if you’d like to minimise your car’s oil replacement needs. Synthetic oil usually lasts longer than standard motor oil, letting you replace it less without fear of your engine seizing.
See the oil warning light? Act quickly to avoid engine damage
Oil is your car’s lifeblood – an essential component that keeps it running smoothly, safely and reliably. Changing your oil late might save you money now, but it could cost you a huge amount later when your engine starts to deteriorate.
If your car is nearing its oil change interval or you’re starting to see its oil warning light, take it to your local mechanic and ask to have its oil changed to make sure its engine stays in great condition for years to come.
Protect yourself from the cost of expensive car repairs
Would you like to protect yourself from the cost of expensive car repairs? If your car’s manufacturer warranty has expired, an extended warranty could be exactly what you need to keep the cost of car ownership predictable and affordable.