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Facts about Engines & Motor Oil

Friday, August 24, 2012
Image Courtesy of Flickr

The engine is the most mechanically-complex part of your car. Even though it has been designed to routinely function under extreme conditions of heat and pressure, no degree of precision engineering can overcome your engine’s greatest enemy: friction between its moving parts. To reduce friction, your engine requires an adequate supply of clean motor oil. Since you engine cannot make its own oil, keeping it well-supplied with this essential component is your responsibility.

Oil Filter

When it is operating, any engine will produce tiny particles of metal or other substances that result from its moving parts being in contact with other parts of the engine. These particles are usually removed by the oil filter and the filtered oil is then recirculated by the engine. However, after only a few thousand miles of engine use, the oil filter will begin to lose its effectiveness and “dirty” oil will start to accumulate in the oils supply. Since such oil is less effective as a lubricant, it is unable to properly protect the engine against the effects of friction. Inadequate engine lubrication can eventually lead to engine failure and may require the significant expense of having the engine replaced.

Oil Changes

Signs that motor oil may be losing its effectiveness, such as unusual grinding sounds while the engine is running or a warning light in the dashboard instrument panel, can develop so slowly that drivers may not be aware of their presence until after significant damage to the engine has occurred. To reduce the possibility of engine damage, manufacturers always recommend regular oil changes and oil filter replacement. In most cases, these changes should occur after every 3,000 to 5,000 miles of vehicle operation.

Older vehicles

Older engines, meaning those that are several model-years years old or have been subjected to higher driving mileage, will usually require more frequent attention to oil and filter changes. Drivers should not rely solely on a warning light to indicate the need for fresh oil and a new filter since these alarms can only sense changes in oil pressure rather than the presence of excessive foreign matter in the engine’s oil supply.

To recap, regular oil and oil filter changes are the most important factor in prolonging the useful life and efficient function of an automobile’s engine. Furthermore, being able to document that oil and filter changes were performed regularly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation may significantly add to an automobile’s trade-in or resale value.