Regular oil changes are one of the most important things you can do to keep your car running smoothly and efficiently. Over time, oil breaks down and becomes contaminated with dirt and other debris. This can lead to engine wear and tear, decreased fuel economy, and even engine failure.
Here are five reasons why changing your car’s oil is important:
- Prevents engine wear and tear: Oil helps to lubricate your engine’s moving parts, reducing friction and wear. Without regular oil changes, these parts can start to rub against each other, causing damage.
- Extends engine life: Regular oil changes can help to extend the life of your engine by up to 20%. This is because clean oil helps to protect your engine from wear and tear, and it also helps to prevent the buildup of sludge.
- Improves fuel economy: Clean oil can help your engine to run more efficiently, which can improve your fuel economy by up to 15%.
- Reduces emissions: Clean oil can also help to reduce your car’s emissions. This is because it helps to prevent the buildup of harmful deposits in your engine.
- Keeps your car running smoothly: Regular oil changes can help to keep your car running smoothly and prevent problems such as engine knocking and stalling.
How long does it take to change oil?
Professionals require 15 to 45 minutes to change the oil in your vehicle. The process involves draining existing oil, removing the oil filter, and putting new oil in the engine. Changing oil by yourself will likely take considerably longer if you haven’t done it before, up to 90 minutes or more.
Types of oil changes
Various types of oil changes are available, depending on the driving you want to do.
Conventional Oil Changes
Conventional oil changes involve replacing the existing engine oil with standard oil made from crude oil with various additives. Generally, it is the least expensive option and sufficient for regular drivers. However, it may not last as long, particularly if your engine operates at higher temperatures. You must make oil changes after 5,000 miles of service or five years, whichever comes first, on most vehicles.
Synthetic Oil Changes
Synthetic oil changes replace the oil in your vehicle with synthetic oil. This oil type performs better at high and low temperatures and lasts longer than conventional lubricants.
Synthetic oils are highly complex and comprise a base and additives. The base is usually a mineral or manufactured oil with a homogenous molecular structure that improves engine flow qualities beyond conventional distilled crude oils.
Additives in synthetic oils make them even better. Brands may add:
- Viscosity modifiers that change the thickness of the oil, ensuring it maintains the same viscosity over a range of temperatures
- Antioxidants that prevent the oil from reacting with oxygen and breaking down into unhelpful or unwanted particles
- Anti-wear agents that aim to reduce friction further, beyond what is possible via the conventional properties of oil
- Inhibitors that prevent internal components from succumbing to rust or corrosion
- Foam inhibitors that prevent the oil from any bubbling processes that might reduce its efficiency
- Detergents to keep the engine clean and stop the buildup of sludge
- Pour point depressants that ensure oil remains fluid at low temperatures
Brands use these ingredients to create unique formulations. These often contain proprietary additives for specific driving conditions, such as cold weather or off-road.
Blended oil changes are when you replace the existing oil in your vehicle with a mixture of conventional and synthetic oils. This compromise lowers the cost of oil changes while providing some of the additives that may help your engine perform better. It may also be more suitable for cars that can’t take fully synthetic oils.
High Mileage Oils
High mileage oils are for used vehicles with more than 75,000 miles on the clock. These oils contain special additives, like synthetic oils, that reduce wear on old engines.
For instance, many products contain seal conditioners. These additives soften (and sometimes rejuvenate) the seals in engine gaskets, reducing their tendency to become more brittle over time. Consistent use of these chemicals can prevent seals from cracking, preventing oil leaks.
High-mileage oils also contain dispersants. These help keep older engines free from gunk and deposits.
High-mileage oil is more expensive than conventional oil but may help your engine last longer. It’s ideal if your vehicle burned oil in the past.
What to do if you have an oil leak after an oil change
An oil leak after car maintenance could indicate:
- Poor quality seals or degraded parts, including disintegrating engine gaskets or bad connections in the loop
- Improper fitting of the new filter, such as fitting a filter of the wrong size
- A broken, damaged, or improperly-secured oil cap that doesn’t have a tight seal
- Overfilling with oil which causes increased pressure in the system, increasing the risk of leaks
If you see oil leaking from your vehicle, start by checking the proper fitting of the filter or cap. Both should click into place without leaks.
If all is well, check your vehicle’s dipstick. Conventional cars require the oil level between the two notches on the stick. If the oil level is above the top notch, drain some of it out (but check the manufacturer’s handbook first).
Lastly, if all else fails, take your vehicle to a mechanic. Professionals can peer into your engine and identify the source of the leak, usually around cracked seals.
The best way to prevent oil leaks after an oil change is to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Sticking to a plan of routine oil changes will ensure your vehicle runs optimally.