Hopefully by now it’s already ingrained in every driver’s mind that you should get an oil change every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first. But, while car companies, auto technicians, and the guy from the five- minute oil change place down the street are all very eager to tell you how often you should replace your oil, they may not have ever told you why.
The main thing oil does is lubricate the moving parts of your engine. For your car to move fast, your engine must move fast, and bare metal on metal creates a lot of friction. The oil prevents there from being too much friction. It also helps to cool your engine because it’s always moving through it. As the oil moves from very hot parts of your engine to cooler parts, it carries some of the heat with it and allows it to dissipate in the cooler parts. Oil also keeps your engine clean. As your engine runs, small bits of metal get worn off of some parts as the friction, heat, and volatile gases cause metal to break down. The oil carries these bits of metal and grime to the oil filter where they are removed from the system.
Oil isn’t perfect, and over time it too begins to break down. Heat in your engine can cause oil to change in viscosity, becoming thinner or thicker, which makes it less effective at reducing friction. Oil and air filters don’t always catch everything they need to, meaning that your oil literally becomes dirty over time. Dirty oil brings dirt and tiny bits of metal that can cause more friction in the very parts of the engine where the oil is supposed to reduce friction. Oil is also lost over time to burn-off. Because oil enters the combustion chambers of your vehicle’s engine, small amounts of it are burned away while you drive, leaving less oil in your car’s system.
Getting a regular oil change is important to keep your car running smoothly. Over time, your oil gets dirty, burns off, and changes viscosity, all of which make it less effective. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine, so keep your engine healthy and get an oil change.