Often neglected and rarely understood, the oil change is possibly the most critical part of routine auto maintenance. Perhaps you do stay on top of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule – and that’s great news – but understanding all that’s involved in something as seemingly mundane as oil (which is surprisingly complex) will help when it comes time to open your wallet at the local service center. When it comes to the oil change in Southgate Michigan, service centers bombard customers with options and many will opt for the least expensive. But as a savvy consumer, it pays to understand where your money is going.
Here’s Why Getting Your Oil Changed Regularly in Southgate Michigan is Important
What’s the difference between the twenty-dollar special, and the “premium full-synthetic”? What exactly happens to your vehicle when it goes in for an oil change? And most importantly: how often should you get your oil changed? If you’ve ever found yourself pondering any of these questions, read on to better understand the slippery slope that is the automotive oil change in Southgate Michigan.
How often should I change my oil?
Glad you asked. Let’s face it, getting your oil changed is inconvenient. But if you’re wondering how often it should be done, chances are you understand the benefits of a well-maintained car. Generally speaking, 3000 miles is the distance typically thought of when planning for an oil change. Many cars will automatically display an indicator notifying the driver that a change is due, and these come on at predefined distances. Quick lube stations and some dealerships are the main perpetuators of the 3000-mile oil change, as it’s an obvious money-maker. Absolutely no harm will come from adhering to the 3000-mile rule, but you might be wasting your money.
Advances in oil and engines built to much tighter tolerances have significantly extended oil life. The truth is, it’s best to check with the manufacturer when planning your oil change schedule. Most owner’s manuals include this information and if not, the manufacturer will gladly share. The truth is, nearly all modern cars go well beyond 3000 miles between changes. Volkswagen recommends every 10,000, and BMW claims well over that. Driving in extreme conditions (excessive heat or cold, stop-and-go traffic, or racing, for example) will undoubtedly lessen oil life, but if asked whether the oil needs to be changed every 3000 miles, most manufactures will respond with a resounding “no”.
What’s the deal will fully-synthetic?
Conventional motor oil is made by refining petroleum and is therefore in a sense “organic.” Fully-synthetic oil is chemically engineered in a lab. It’s painstakingly developed to perform across a greater range of conditions where conventional oil may begin to break down. But is it necessary?
If your car’s manual recommends fully-synthetic motor oil, then your guesswork is done. Typically, high-performance vehicles, and many cars of European origin will require synthetic oil. If given the option, conventional motor oil will be cheaper, but with a reduced service life and decreased performance in certain conditions. Synthetic oil will be more expensive up-front, but users can enjoy higher mileage between changes (sometimes even double that of conventional) and thus reduced maintenance intervals. Many synthetics also include detergents that help clean engine internals and chemicals to eliminate foaming experienced during high-RPM driving.
The Risks of Oil Neglect
Neglecting your oil can cause catastrophic engine damage. It’s not a matter of if, but when. In order to perform properly, oil must be of a certain viscosity. Over time, the chemical bonds begin to break down and it can no longer maintain viscosity under the stresses the engine places on it. It’s no longer able to whisk away engine heat and provide a thin layer for which sensitive components glide upon. Friction will build up. Engine heat will increase. Ultimately, the engine will seize. It’s not uncommon for the cost of repairing a seized engine to outweigh the cost of the car itself.
The oil is also responsible for removing engine waste products such as carbon from combustion, fuel vapor, and moisture. The filter can remove many impurities, but only for so long. Many filters (commonly replaced during an oil change) have a bypass value to allow the flow of oil to the engine even after the filter has reached its service life. This is something of a last resort, and ideally won’t ever be needed as it is allowing unfiltered oil to recirculate through the engine. Worn oil can result in the buildup of sludge – a black tar-like substance, and one of the visual indicators of worn oil. Look on the underside of your oil cap, and if you notice even a slight buildup of sludge, an oil change is overdue.
Time for a Change
So, you’re due for a change. When your car goes into the shop, it will be put on a lift and have its old oil drained and replaced with clean, fresh oil. Replacing the oil filter is also part of the oil change and is nearly always factored into the package cost. It should come as no surprise that larger motors need more oil, and high-performance cars will nearly always need high-performance oil; usually in the form of fully-synthetic. These factors will dictate cost, and whether your car would be compatible with the cheapest oil change packages (which typically use conventional oil.) During the oil change, the technician responsible for your vehicle will often conduct a multi-point inspection and make note of any other worn or damaged components and provide you with a summary. If you have a new vehicle or are visiting a service center for the first time, it pays to arm yourself with your owner’s manual and have at least a casual understanding of your vehicle to ensure you get the most out of your maintenance dollar.
At Good Care Auto they perform oil changes every day, on nearly all makes and models. They pride ourselves on honest, affordable work done right the first time. Good Care Auto stocks oil and filters from all the major brands and offers many package deals. The team of friendly, knowledgeable technicians are standing by. If you need an oil change, give Good Care Auto a shout at (734) 285-1188 and they’ll have you back on the road in no time!