I’m concerned. After 30 years of repairing and maintaining cars, I’m seeing a disturbing trend: Too many people are waiting too long to change their oil.
Manufacturers are lulling the driving public into thinking their cars are practically maintenance free; that synthetic oil barely needs changing and there's no problem waiting 10,000 miles or more for an oil change.
But as I drain spent oil from engines, the oil pans I am seeing tell a very different story.
Modern Oil Has Vastly Improved But ...
Yes, it’s true, oil has come a long way since I changed the oil in my dad’s ’71 Chevy Townsman Wagon. Today’s newer motor oil has improved dramatically with detergent and disbursement properties that clean and lubricate your engine.
But the longer you wait to change the lifeblood that keeps your engine working smoothly, the more time your oil has to pick up pollutants like metals, dirt and contaminants and circulate them again and again through your engine.
Recently, I watched oil pour out of a vehicle with so many metal flecks in it that it looked like glitter was sprinkled into the oil pan. That same car was still well within the manufacturer's suggested oil change intervals. That oil was not clean enough to do its job - no matter what the owner's manual suggested.
Did you know that the oil in your engine also acts as an air conditioner? The oil draws heat away from the engine allowing it to run at a cooler temperature. Waiting too long between oil changes deteriorates the oil and forces the engine to work harder and hotter. Over time, key engine parts can warp and wear out.
It’s Not Just An Oil Change
Changing the oil isn’t the only reason for an oil change - it’s the only time your car has a chance for a thorough inspection before trouble starts. Think about it. As you drive thousands of miles what is happening to your tires, brake lines, shocks, suspension and the other vital fluids in your engine?
Just like your visits to a doctor for check ups, your car needs thorough examinations as well. That tiny leak in your air conditioning system is minor now, but left undetected for eight months could mean rolling down the windows while driving on vacation.
When Is The Best Time for an Oil Change?
I recommend oil changes occur every 3,000 to 3,700 miles for regular oil and 7,500 miles for synthetic oil.
Most oil change stickers placed on the driver's side windshield remind us of our next recommended oil change. At Knight’s Automotive Repair, we go the extra mile and call or mail a friendly reminder note to our clients informing them their vehicle is due for an oil change.
Unfortunately, we sometimes hear, “I’ll be fine to skip it for another few months” or “I only put 2,000 miles on the car in the last six months so I’ll see you when it hits 3,000.” If your car has not reached that recommended mile interval but it’s been six months since your last oil change, it’s still important that you come in so we can take the time to check your oil level and inspect your vehicle.
Certified Mechanics Find Potential Problems
Only a highly trained ASE certified technician knows how to spot an impending problem and can save you the headaches of a breakdown or worse - a seized engine. That’s what inspired me to write this article. Back when I was starting out in this business, a seized engine was a rare occurrence. Today, I’m replacing a seized engine almost twice a month.
This is an alarming trend but it's so preventable when you realize the importance of regular oil changes and the dangers of waiting too long to change it. Don’t just rely on your dashboard oil indicator - miles driven and length of time since last change are way better gauges.
Remember - oil provides a physical barrier that acts as a film to protect all the working parts in your engine. If that barrier breaks down, so does your engine. Seize the day - get your oil changed!
If you have any questions about oil changes or to schedule an oil change, please contact Peyton at Knight’s Automotive Repair at 973-927-0114.
Make sure you check out my other TAPinto Roxbury columns. Click here to read more.