Oil Changes – Guide for your Used Car
Regular oil changes is one of the most important things you can do for your car. Keeping a regular maintenance schedule will make your car last longer and run better.
What does Engine oil do in your Car?
Every gasoline engine has parts that move and turn. This includes the pistons inside your engine, the shafts that take the force from the pistons and use them to spin the wheels, and the gears and cranks that join the larger parts together. However, running an engine also creates large amounts of heat and friction. The primary function of engine oil is to reduce the friction between pieces of the engine so it runs smoothly and without wearing down.
Engine oil also keeps your engine clean by filtering out soot and unburned fuel that enters the engine case. Over time, oil accumulates contaminants and loses viscosity (the ability to flow into every nook and cranny). Contaminants cause friction as parts rub together. Friction wears out those parts faster. The damage caused by these conditions is irreversible without an engine overhaul or replacement.
How many miles between oil changes?
Many people still go by the old 3 month or 3,000 mile rule for oil changes, but this is probably too much for most modern cars. Many car manufacturers specify longer service intervals for newer models, such as every 6 months or 5,000 miles under regular driving conditions. Check your owner’s manual to see what your manufacturer recommends.
The type of driving we do also affects our oil change needs;
Frequent cold starts, extreme heat, and towing, are all examples of types of driving that can shorten our oil life. Also, repeated short trips (under 5 miles) are one of the most overlooked enemies of oil life. Any of these driving conditions can create the need to shorten your service interval by 25% to 35% depending on the severity.
Choosing the Right Oil for Your Used Car
So how do you choose which oil to put in your engine? The best way is to see what your manufacturer recommends. In every car’s owner’s manual, the manufacture gives recommendations on what oil to use in the engine under normal use. Some people opt to use other oils, but for the most part these recommendations work.
Another thing to consider is whether you want synthetic or conventional oil. Conventional oil is made from crude oil pulled from the ground, while synthetic oil is a blend of artificial chemicals. Synthetic oil lasts longer and offers more protection for your engine, but it’s also more expensive. It’s your choice which one you want to use, but you can always consult your manual or ask a technician at your service facility for advice. Once you’ve chosen an oil for your car, you should check it regularly to make sure your car has enough.
Checking your Oil between Oil Changes
Pull onto a level surface, open your hood, and pull out the dipstick (which is connected to a brightly colored handle somewhere near your engine). For the best results, clean the dipstick with a rag and dip it back into the engine before reading it. Your manufacturer may also recommend waiting until your engine is cool before checking the oil, but this isn’t always the case. If your oil is between the lower and upper marks on the dipstick, you’re good to go! If not, find your oil reservoir (should be a screw off cap on the top of your engine) and add a quart of your choice.
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