• Ambre Guterl

Why do I need regular oil changes?

Updated: Aug 23

Do you know why oil changes are so important? In this article, I will answer some frequently asked questions about oil changes and explain why they're important. Let's get started!

Why are oil changes important?

Oil changes are directly related to the overall cleanliness of a vehicle's engine. When changing your old oil and filter out for fresh oil and filters, you reduce the amount of dirt and debris that potentially build up in your engine over time.

What happens if you skip an oil change?

Oil Pouring and Leaking from Tank
  • Oil thins out over time and eventually becomes full of metal, dirt, and other particles. This buildup causes the oily smooth consistency, which lubricates vital engine parts, turns into an abrasive consistency. Oil has 7 different functions:

  • minimizes friction and wear between components

  • Clean

  • Cool engine parts

  • Form a seal

  • Dampen shock

  • Prevent corrosion

  • Transfer energy

How long can you go between oil changes?

Depending on what type of oil your vehicle requires will determine your grace period length. A car taking regular oil can go 3,000 to 5,000 miles before needing the service. A vehicle that takes synthetic oil can go 5,000 or even 7,000 miles before needing an oil change. It's important to stay aware of your driving habits to determine an appropriate service time frame.

What happens if you go too long between oil changes?

Motor Oil Dripping

As previously stated above, oil has 7 different functions, and one, in particular, is cooling engine parts. When you go too long between oil changes, the oil eventually gets so built up with dirt and debris that it becomes sludge. Unlike oil, sludge does not move throughout the engine easily and will cause the engine to overheat. This can cause total engine failure, which leads to a motor replacement or sometimes a whole new car!

Can I just add new oil to my car without an oil change?

Oil Filter

That's not a good idea. New oil is a clean, transparent, goldish-yellow liquid. As the oil is used, debris gets mixed in and darkens this liquid. Debris can be from the filter or even the engine itself. It can come from anywhere, but it will, either way, dirty the oil and filter. The oil will thicken and become hard to disperse throughout the engine, and the filter will become blocked and unable to do its job of filtering out this debris. If your filter can't do its job, then it's allowing the oil to get even dirtier, which, if left unchanged for an extended time, will cause it to end up a thick sludge-like substance, that's impossible to disperse anywhere. This can cause overheating of your motor, which in turn could cause your engine to quit. So, adding fresh oil to old oil in a vehicle will only prolong the inevitable and not by much. Frankly, it's a complete waste of oil.

How do I know I need an oil change?

Motor Oil Dipstick Test

The first way to know if you need an oil change is by checking for a sticker on your windshield. It's usually in the driver's side top corner and supplied by most automotive shops so drivers can stay on track with their oil changes easier. The sticker will give you a date and mileage; whichever comes first is when you need your oil changed.

If you don't have a sticker or the repair order from the previous oil change, you can check the oil itself. It's not very accurate, but you can visually check the condition. You'll need a clean cloth or paper towel when you do this to see the color as accurately as possible. Open the vehicle's hood, pull out the dipstick located on the motor, and wipe the stick on the clean cloth. You may have to do it twice to be sure. Ideally, your oil should be clear and look closer to honey. If the liquid is dark to almost black, you may want to schedule service before it gets any dirtier. Lastly, if you are unsure when your last oil change was, go ahead and schedule one. Get your vehicle on a new schedule so you can make sure it's getting the proper maintenance it needs.