Motor Oil and Oil Change 101
It’s nearly 2018, a year that promises amazing technological advances like automated driving and hover cars. And the average person can easily learn about those technologies thanks to information-sharing power of the internet. And yet, some drivers on the road don’t understand what their engine oil does, how often they need an oil change, and what will happen if they don’t replace it. If you are one of those drivers, don’t worry – I won’t tell anyone. Read ahead to find out everything you need to know about motor oil and oil changes.
What Does Engine Oil Do?
In the simplest terms, engine oil lubricates the parts in your engine. Without engine oil, pieces of metal would just be scraping against one another until they welded together or literally melted (it wouldn’t take long). Motor oil also cools the engine and cleans rust, dust, and contaminants from your engine. With these critical responsibilities, motor oil is as important as gasoline for your vehicle.
Synthetic Oil Vs. Conventional Oil
You probably know that there are two main kinds of oil, conventional and synthetic. Conventional oil is crude oil from the ground that is then refined. Synthetic oil is refined, but it is also purified and distilled into uniformly-sized molecules. Those molecules produce less friction and heat as they interact in your engine. Considering that engine oil is designed to cool and lubricate, that’s a good thing. Synthetic oil is also free of paraffin which inhibits the flow of conventional oil. But which should you use?
Quite simply, synthetic oil performs better and lasts longer. Even if your manufacturer does not expressly recommend that you use synthetic oil, you should consider it. But, all motor oil from major brands is sufficiently advanced to provide effective lubrication and cooling. If you want to save some money and stick with the conventional oil recommended by your manufacturer, you shouldn’t suffer any serious consequences.
How Often Should I Change My Oil?
A great number of variables affect oil change intervals, so it’s not possible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer. If you have your oil changed by a professional, they will likely provide you with a sticker indicating when you should return for another oil change. And, of course, your owner’s manual will have its own oil change schedule. You can follow that provided two things remains true.
First, you have to be using the type of oil recommended in the same manual. If you switch from conventional oil to high-mileage synthetic (or vice-versa), your manufacturer’s suggestions will no longer apply.
Second, you should only follow the oil change interval schedule if you drive in a “normal” fashion. Abnormal driving habits include any of the following:
- Frequent cold starts
- Aggressive acceleration
- Short driving trips
- Medium to short driving trips in the cold
- High-speed driving
- Excessive idling
- Towing or hauling
- Driving in dusty or polluted regions
A few of those habits are pretty unavoidable for Saskatchewan drivers – especially those whose vehicles spend time outside. That means you should probably be changing your oil more frequently than the owner’s manual suggest.
If you’re lucky enough to have technology in your vehicle that determines oil change frequency, use that as an indicator. It’s no longer necessary to change your oil every 5,000 kms if your vehicle is equipped with this technology. The Oil Life monitor is a complex system that uses your driving habits, conditions, engine speeds and temperatures, and several other factors. A truck towing trailers regularly will need an oil change sooner than a vehicle used for highway and city driving. The vehicle will display a message to the driver with an accurate calculation stating when to change oil or how much oil life remains. Although the science is there to determine oil change frequency, it’s important to check your oil levels regularly. And if you change your own oil, remember to reset the oil life monitor so you don’t get a false “change oil soon” message.
Your Filter, Too
If your oil change interval is longer than the life of your filter, you can harm your engine. Dirty oil from your engine passes through the filter and then reenters the engine. A healthy filter removes contaminants to help your engine remain clean and efficient. An expired filter can’t do this effectively. So, get a filter that lasts as long as your oil – the factory-trained technicians at Capital GMC always provide you with an appropriate filter for your high-quality oil.
If you have any other questions about your engine oil, our technicians will be happy to answer them for you.