Have you ever wondered why you have to change your car oil so frequently?
To understand why having your oil changed regularly is vital, it is important to know what the oil inside your engine is actually doing when you start your car. The function of oil is to lubricate all of the internal mechanisms that keep your engine running. This reduces the friction between the components by absorbing the heat that they produce and reducing the strain on your engine, extending its lifespan and making sure your car is running as optimally as possible.
But that relationship is assuming that your oil is working optimally too. Over time, as it is exposed to the heat of the motor, the oil will actually begin to break down and become less effective at transferring that heat away. This places additional strain on the engine, which is bad for the lifespan of your car and bad for your wallet at the pump – a less efficient engine needs more fuel to run.
As well as breaking down due to the heat it’s exposed to, motor oil also collects dirt and grime as it travels around the engine. This builds up over time, especially if you frequently drive on dirtier roads. This mixture of oil and grime will eventually thicken into a kind of sludge in your engine. The dirty particulates that make up this sludge are especially bad at dissipating heat. It’s also much worse at providing lubrication inside your engine, making the oil less efficient the dirtier it gets. This is why it’s so important to change your oil regularly – clean oil is much better at doing its job of lubricating your engine, reducing friction and carrying heat away from the important components inside your car.
With clean oil, you can be assured that your car is running as efficiently as possible.
How do you change your own oil?
You might be wondering if changing your engine oil is a job you can do yourself, especially if it can be so beneficial to the longevity of your car. Luckily, unlike a lot of mechanical jobs, oil changes are absolutely something you can attempt yourself.
To begin, your car will need to be jacked up and supported by axle stands – never attempt to work under a car supported by a jack only. Once your car is properly supported, find your car’s drainage plug and place a large pan or bucket underneath it. As soon as that’s ready, loosen the plug with a spanner and then finish removing it with your fingers until the oil begins to drain – but be careful not to drop the plug into your oil bucket.
You’ll want to replace your oil filter while the oil is draining, making sure the old O ring comes out with it. Rub some fresh oil around the new O ring to prevent it getting stuck and install the new filter. Once the oil is fully drained, replace your drain plug, and your car can be placed back on the ground.
Make sure you’ve consulted your car’s manual to double-check which oil your engine needs, then fill your engine until the dipstick says it’s full. It’s good practice to run your engine for a minute or so at this point, to circulate the oil and make sure your oil filter is filled properly.
How often should you check your oil?
As your car is such an important part of your day-to-day life, it’s important that you take little steps to preserve it. One of the easiest things you can do to maintain your car’s engine health is to regularly check its oil levels.
Checking your engine oil is an easy skill that all car owners should know, and is a quick way to gauge how your car is running. Make sure your car has been turned off for at least five minutes, to give the oil time to settle, then unscrew the oil cap on the top of your engine and wipe the dipstick clean with an old rag. Insert it back into the engine and remove it again to check where your oil levels are sitting. If they’re near the line marked ‘full’ you have sufficient oil for your car. If there’s a bit of distance between the ‘full’ line and the oil, it might be a good idea to top it up.
A good rule of thumb is that you should inspect your oil levels about once every month. Not only will this let you know if your engine is running low, checking it regularly will allow you to see any trends in how your engine is using its oil. If you think that it’s burning through more than usual, or may have sprung a leak, it’s important to deal with those issues quickly and bring your car to a mechanic for a proper inspection.
If you suspect that your engine might need a professional to look at it, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at Great Lakes Auto Centre. You can reach our friendly team on (02) 6590 1375, or alternatively, you can complete our online booking form today.