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Importance of regular engine oil changes.

How Often Should Engine Oil Be Changed?

Engine oil plays an important role in protecting the internal moving parts of an IC engine. It reduces friction and maintains the efficiency of an engine for a long time. However the lubricant goes through several heat cycles, and it faces harsh weather conditions which lets moisture accumulate within the engine oil. It's the engine oil's job to protect the engine in such conditions and the additives inside the lubricant help in doing so. Over time and with use, the engine oil loses its properties. For this to not happen a regular engine oil change routine is to be followed. There can be several reasons and criteria for how often the engine oil should be changed.

When To Know It's Time For An Oil Change?

Regular Engine oil changes are crucial for your engine's efficiency. The frequency of your oil changes can vary over time and you may not know when it's time for an oil change. Which risks the engine running on worn-out engine oil.



Follow The Manufacturer's Recommendations

There's a misconception among users that low-mileage cars need less maintenance which is false information. The reason why manufacturers provide criteria such as 8000 km / 6 months is that you need to change the oil within 8000 km or the time period of 6 months, whichever comes first. It's always whichever comes first, for everything. Why? Because engine oil and other fluids break down over time, the engine oil loses their property mainly due to moisture, and other contaminants which get accumulated. The water vapor tends to mix with the engine oil and form a milky sludge which deteriorates the engine oil quality. This does not happen when the vehicle is driven regularly. When the engine oil is brought to operating temperatures, it will burn and evaporate the deposits.



Check Engine Or Oil Change Light

Some modern cars these days come with an oil change indicator or an oil life percentage indicator which uses various types of sensors and algorithms based on the riding style, the number of cold starts, and other factors which tells the user that it's time for an oil change.



Poor Performance

A lubricant loses its special property after constant use and with age. This can affect how the engine works. Engine oil that has gone bad can lose its viscosity or may get contaminated which will not only hamper the lubricating properties but also will not flow properly to the necessary engine parts. Old engine oil also makes sludge deposits inside the engine, this forces the engine and even the oil pump to work harder to produce the same amount of power. This decreases the power output of an engine and makes it feel sluggish, but it is not something to worry about as it can be fixed with a simple oil change.



Self-Diagnose

You can check the status of the engine oil by simply opening the hood and removing the engine oil dipstick which can show you the engine oil level. As well as the condition of the oil by checking the color of the oil. You can even smell it to see if there's any burnt smell in it which usually means the engine oil has served its purpose and it's time for an oil change. The dipstick usually has two slots that show you the engine oil level. However, every engine has different markings and different ways of checking the oil level for which it's better to refer to your user manual. But engine oil level should not vary too much because if your engine is burning too much engine oil than usual that means you have bigger engine problems coming your way.



If Your Engine Is Making Weird Noises

Engine oil keeps the internal parts of an engine lubricated so that it works smoothly, but old engine oil loses its lubricating properties as it gets contaminated. In such cases, an engine may not run as smoothly as it did before. You may hear a knocking sound from your engine or even unusual vibrations can be felt. Chances are that the engine may feel sluggish and it can also face difficulty in picking up speed. This happens because the motor oil is failing to lubricate the moving parts properly for what it was designed for. At this point, you should plan on changing the engine oil as soon as possible, as ignoring this can lead to long-term permanent damage which can be easily avoided by being up to date with the oil change interval.



What If I Delay My Oil Change?

The longer the oil change is delayed, the more likely your engine is to show these signs; most commonly a rough engine, your engine will become hotter than usual and have poor performance. This happens because the engine has to work through the muck and buildup is caused by the old engine oil. Delaying more can simply lead to engine failure, a blown head gasket, etc.



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FAQ

Even if the car is driven less, you should not exceed the time interval given by the car manufacturer.

A fully filled engine with the correct amount of engine oil in it should not have a place for any new oil to be added, if ever so the oil level drops it should be very minute and not need to be refilled again and again. However, if the engine is consuming oil that needs to be refilled, that means you have some serious issues other than just an oil change.

Engine oil degrades with time and usage, so it's important to change your oil according to both criteria, whichever comes first. Refer to your owner's manual for the correct oil change intervals

As a general rule, new engine oil should be amber in color while old oil should be darker in color. However, if you find your engine oil to be cloudy or milky there can be a coolant leak, a blown gasket, or some other major issue.

Your vehicle gets several noticeable benefits from an oil change. You will feel a slight difference in the way the engine runs and picks up speed, better gas mileage due to better engine lubrication, and overall efficiency.

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John Framigllia
Technical Writer
Our technical writer is known for simplifying automotive parts and services. Intuitive with various vehicles and manufacturers, he knows how to simplify complicated problems.