To calculate how often you should have your oil changed, you can consult your driver’s manual or visit checkyournumber.org.
Manufacturers suggest you change oil more often for “severe” driving conditions.
But what constitutes “severe” conditions?
- Drive on short trips of less than 5 miles in normal temperatures or less than 10 miles in freezing temperatures.
- Drive in hot weather stop-and-go traffic.
- Drive at low speeds of less than 50 miles per hour for long distances.
- Drive on roads that are dusty, muddy or have salt, sand or gravel spread on the surface.
- Tow a trailer, carrying a camper (if a pickup truck) or transport items on a roof rack or in a car-top carrier.
These conditions attract moisture and dust into the engine. If the engine isn’t run long enough to burn off the accumulated moisture, the acid compounds build up and adhere to engine parts, hamper operations and accelerate wear. This sludge can cause permanent engine damage, and negate the oil filter’s job of sifting contaminants, which reduces fuel economy, increases emissions and can potentially lead to engine failure.
Therefore, more frequent changes and part replacements can be necessary.
If you’re like most car lovers, you take pride in keeping the outside of your car clean. Sure, looks are important, but what about what’s inside, under the hood? Should you be just as finicky about keeping your engine clean? You better believe it! Here’s why…
Over time, thick, gummy deposits form and settle throughout your engine. Unfortunately, deposits clog oil passages and restricts oil flow to vital engine parts” especially the upper valve train areas. A lack of lubrication in this area will increase engine wear and fuel consumption. Even worse, it decreases engine power. That’s why the motor oil you choose is so critical. Your engine needs protection against this kind of harmful build–up.
Even if you follow a routine service schedule, driving conditions are anything but routine. Your engine performance is constantly challenged by factors that contribute to deposit formation, including:
What Causes Engine Build-Up?
- stop and go driving
- prolonged periods of idling
- short trips that don’t allow your engine time to warm up
- towing trailers or other heavy loads
- airborne dirt
- fuel dilution
- longer drain intervals
Industry experts say some modern engines are more prone to deposits than older engines. Here are some additional reasons:
1. Engine breathing
Water vapor and combustion gases that develop inside an engine must be purged, usually by burning in the cylinders. If the combustion gases and water vapor are not disposed of, deposits can form.*
2. Hot and cold spots
To warm engines quickly and reduce emissions, engineers in recent years have moved the catalytic converter closer to the cylinder head. In some cars, the converter has been integrated into the exhaust manifold. Both scenarios bring a major heat source closer to the engine, causing hot and cold spots. Hot spots bake oil causing deposits. Cold spots cause acid and deposits.*
3. Tighter tolerances
Engines now burn less oil because more accurate machining has created an extremely tight fit between the engine’s moving parts, such as piston rings, bearings and valves. The result: low oil lights don’t flash, and customers neglect oil changes.*
Do your engine a favor and keep it just as clean as you would your car’s exterior. You’ll see a big “thank you” in the form of increased performance and longer engine life.
* Automotive News April 18th, 2005.
(NUI) – As summer winds down and fall begins in earnest, auto-care experts say that getting your vehicle serviced for cold-weather driving should be high on your list of things to do.
Here are some tips from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) – the nonprofit group that certifies automotive technicians – on preparing your car for winter weather.
- Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. Do this more often – every 3,000 miles or so – if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
- Get problems such as hard starts, rough idling, stalling and diminished power corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather will make existing problems worse.
- Replace all dirty filters.
- Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keep your gas tank filled to help prevent moisture from forming.
- Have the cooling system flushed and refilled as recommended. Periodically check the level, condition and concentration of the coolant.
- Have a certified auto technician check the tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses.
- Make sure that the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
- As part of routine battery care, scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces, then re-tighten all connections. If the battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Note that removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data on some newer vehicles, so check your manual. Also, be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid; wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
- Examine the exhaust system for leaks. The trunk and floorboards should be inspected for small holes.
- Examine the tires’ tread and look for uneven wearing and cupping. Also, check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Rotate the tires as recommended.
- Check tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking them. Don’t forget to check your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
- Prepare for emergencies. Stock your car with gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or cat litter, tire chains, a flashlight and a cell phone. Put a few “high energy” snacks in your glove box, too.
For more tips on preparing for winter driving, visit www.ase.com.