Maintaining a proper oil change schedule is critical to your car’s continued performance. Every car needs the oil to be changed frequently, but not everyone knows the differences in oil. Oil in an engine lubricates the engine and keeps the engine from running hot and overheating. Included with every car are its oil and engine specifications. If you do not use the right oil or document the oil service frequency, you can void a new car’s warranty.
How Often Do I Change My Oil?
The answer to this question depends upon several variables. If you have an older car, ask yourself two questions. Do I drive in normal conditions, or do I operate under particular conditions? These special conditions include primarily brief trips stop and go driving, whether you drive in cold, hot, or dusty conditions. If you drive your car in such situations, maintain a more rigorous oil maintenance schedule. If you have an older car, you typically will change your oil based upon mileage. Most manufacturers suggest that you change your oil every 5000 to 7000 miles. Of course, this schedule could vary depending upon driving conditions and the condition of your engine.
Many newer cars on the market today have monitoring systems that know when to change the oil. Usually, a light on your instrument panel will tell you when you need to change the oil. When these monitoring systems first “came out,” they were time and mileage-based. But now, technological advances allow the vehicle to analyze its operating conditions to know when to change the oil. When you go for an oil service, the technician should reset your car’s oil monitoring system. Or, if you change your oil yourself, you can reset the system. Just follow the directions in your vehicle owner’s manual.
Some engines use very little oil between changes, and some engines can use a quart of oil every 500–700 miles. This variance reinforces the necessity of checking your oil often. Monitoring your oil level and adding oil when necessary can prevent your engine’s premature demise, therefore saving you money. If you do not drive your car often, you should change your oil every 12 months.
What Is the Difference Between Conventional and Synthetic Oil?
Changing the oil in your car was, at one time, very simple. You did not have to choose between types of oil. Not so today. Choosing between oils has ramifications for your engine. So, you should know some of the differences between oils so you can make an informed decision.
Conventional oil is the oil that people used in their vehicles before the synthetic versus conventional debate came around. Synthetic (formulated) oil sparked the oil debate. Synthetic oil is artificial. Oil manufacturers create synthetic oil by using some chemicals you can find in petroleum oil. Companies who specialize in making this kind of oil spend and have spent much time adjusting their oil formulas to outperform regular oil in vehicles. Synthetic oil was invented in 1929 but has only been available to the everyday consumer for a short time.
There is some middle ground in the synthetic versus conventional oil debate called semi-synthetic oil. This oil is a blend of the two oils and provides some advantages from each oil. This option is available for consumers.
What Grade of Oil Should I Use?
There are many grades of oil available for use. Oil is known by, marketed, and sold with some confusing letters and numbers. For example, some oils come packaged as SAE 5W-30 multi-grade oil. The first number, five, in this case, denotes the viscosity rating when the oil is cold. Next, the “W” signifies winter use. Finally, the 30 reflects oil thickness at operating temperatures. For example, 0W-30, 5W-30, and 10W-30 all have the same thickness when moving around your hot engine. But they will have a different thickness (viscosity) when your engine is cold.
All three oil grades offer the same protection when the engine is hot. However, when the engine is cold, the higher the number in front of the “W,” the better your cold cranking protection will be. If the oil has a lower viscosity, more oil will pump into the engine when you started it. This oil delivery will minimize the startup ware on your engine.
Experts say that three-fourths of engine wear happens during startup when the engine is cold. Extended idling of your engine speeds up wear on your engine. If you desire longevity in an engine, choose a multi-grade oil that has a lower viscosity number. The lower viscosity number means that upon cranking, the oil will get in your engine faster and flow better.
Why Can’t I Change the Oil Myself?
Many people change their oil on their own, even if they know little about the oil they are using. However, there are benefits to getting your oil changed by a professional. The professionals at Victor’s Tires and Custom Wheels know what kind of oil your car needs, even if you drive in particular conditions. Our professionals also have the tools and knowledge to make the job easier. Trusting a professional to change your oil for you ensures there are no problems with changing and disposing of the used oil.
Another reason not to change your oil is the many oil change packages that retailers sell. Some offer oil changes packaged with vacuuming your car, washing your vehicle, treating your tires, checking your wiper blades, and so on. In many people’s minds, the price charged for these packages more than pays for the labor saved, the cost of tools saved, and the time saved.
Getting someone else to change your oil takes care of these issues, including how often to change your oil and the choice between types of oil. It also answers the question of all characteristics, including viscosity and maximum protection for your engine. Lastly, while you can change your oil, it is a messy, time-consuming job that, if done incorrectly, can have irreversible consequences.