Kirill Yurovsky: How often should I change my engine oil?
In the technical documentation for each vehicle, there are recommendations with the frequency of oil changes. The average ranges from once every 10,000 or 15,000 km. There are also a number of exceptions when it is necessary to change more often. What does the schedule of engine oil replacement depend on and what are the consequences of ignoring this indicator, you will learn in the article by engineer Kirill Yurovsky.
Why is it important to change the oil in the engine in time?
The liquid lubricant covers all engine parts with a protective film and performs several functions at once:
- reduces friction and prevents wear;
- reduces internal temperatures;
- removes waste products – particles of unburned fuel, metal chips;
- protects against corrosion.
The engine oil itself consists of 70-80% of base oil and 20-30% of additives. The optimum combination of components allows performing all the above-mentioned functions. After the oil has exhausted its service life, the additives are destroyed.
If the oil loses its characteristics, the base tasks are not fulfilled, which brings the time of engine overhaul closer.
How to Determine the Frequency of Replacement
Regarding the maintenance of the car, the opinion of experts constantly differs. Drivers often do not know who to focus on when changing the oil in the engine. But after all, everyone is right in their own way, and a number of nuances must be taken into account:
- type of oil – winter, summer, universal;
- the mileage of the vehicle – the more the vehicle is operated, the earlier the oil needs to be changed;
- vehicle’s operating mode – urban cycle, driving in the country, on the highway;
- manufacturer’s recommendations – specified in the technical documentation, depend on the design features of the engine;
- engine repairs – implies unscheduled oil changes;
- car malfunctions – a number of symptoms that require you to be alert and remember when you changed the engine oil.
For the calculation, it is taken into account the mileage of the car, but you must not forget about the mode of operation. If you drive in a city, with traffic jams and frequent stops, change it earlier. It may happen that it is filled with oil, but the car is hardly ever used. What to do? Ideally, it should be changed even in such a case, as oil oxidizes.
What is the oil change schedule?
Motorists also determine the time of an oil change by its color. But a gray, uniform lubricant is not a reason to think about changing it. During operation, the change of shade is a natural process. Oil quality itself is not lost immediately after a color change. A yellowish-brown tinge of engine oil is acceptable. A slight darkening indicates that the detergent additives have done their job and are keeping the spent particles dispersed. But if the oil is black, then yes – it’s better to change it.
If you use the car extensively, you can change the lubricant seasonally. In summer, pour in more viscous grades of oil to reduce fuel consumption. When it’s cold, give preference to low-viscosity engine oils to make it easier to start the engine in freezing temperatures. Universal lubricant should be changed according to the mileage.
Some drivers are accustomed to filling up oil once a year at about the same time. The decision is correct if the mileage is the same. When the car was used intensively, it is not enough. For example, the mileage in the previous year was 12 000 km, and this year – as much as 32 000 km.
There are cases when the oil needs to be changed every 7 000-8 000 km:
- frequent operation of the engine at the highest speeds causes the lubricant to overheat and degrade;
- use of the machine at abnormal temperatures;
- intensive use – off-road, traffic jams, aggressive driving;
- short trips in the city – the oil has no time to warm up;
- regular transport of heavy objects;
- Low quality fuel.
Sometimes the oil level drops and the question arises: can I top up or change it completely? Critical changes in the level of the lubricant – a reason to contact the service station. When consumption is within the norms and the mileage allows, you can top up.
How to define the schedule of oil replacement in your vehicle
When everything is clear in theory, in practice the question remains open and motorists are still not sure how to act in a particular case. Let’s identify a few points that will help you understand the schedule for changing the oil in the engine:
- manufacturer’s recommendations – look in the technical documentation;
- driving mode – the more the load on the power unit, the more often we change the oil;
- fuel quality – depends on the honesty of gas stations, low-quality oil must be changed more often;
- the type of oil you use – consider the seasonality, you cannot use summer oil in winter;
- your car’s clues – be alert to signs of trouble due to old oil and the oil indicators in the car.
Start with the data in the car’s paperwork and subtract from the total recommended mileage. If all factors indicate that the oil may have degraded quickly, change it every 6000-8000 km.
Signs that tell you to change your oil
Let’s look at what signs indicate an oil problem, and break down ways to fix them:
- engine stalls while running – check the fuel filter for clogging;
- Check engine light is on – it may be time to change the oil;
- engine overheating – change or refill the engine oil;
- engine noises when running – check the mileage – it may be time to change the lubricant;
- oil smells in the passenger compartment – oil burns due to engine overheating or leakage;
- smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe – sign of a leak, fix it and fill in new oil.
You can use a dipstick to measure the viscosity. A drop of oil should not drip down it like water. If the composition is normal, the oil will collect, maintain for 5-7 seconds and only then go down.
The problem with changing the engine oil too often
Another mistake is to change the lubricant as often as possible. Changing early is just as undesirable as old engine oil. The first time you start the engine after an oil change, you may notice that the engine doesn’t run well. The parts are poorly lubricated in the beginning, which is why this happens. And if you frequently repeat premature oil changes, engine parts are subject to wear and tear.
Therefore it is necessary to adhere to a golden mean, not to overdo it and not to be late with oil changes. The optimal interval is 10,000-15,000 km, but not less than 6,000 km. Small deviations from the manufacturer’s indications are permissible according to your driving regime. For example, once in 8 000 km.
In addition to the oil condition, it is necessary to monitor the filter contamination. When it is clogged, oil is not filtered and flows into the system with increased pressure. This can cause malfunctions of the engine.