Technicians have determined that the most damaging thing you can do to your vehicle is fail to change the oil at the recommended intervals. Driving for extended periods of time with dirty oil, or even worse, the wrong oil altogether, can wreak murderous havoc on your automobile, especially if it contains a more modern, high-tech engine. Oil related issues are both the most common and possibly the most expensive problems on today’s streets.
Possible Side Effects of Using the Wrong Motor Oil in Your Vehicle
- Insufficient lubrication of engine
- Build up of oil sludge
- Clogging of oil filter
- More frequent oil changes
- Poor performance
- Low gas mileage
- Burning of oil and/or production of smoke
- Overheating of engine
- Premature oil pump or fuel pump failure
- Engine seize
- Engine failure/require an engine rebuild or complete replacement
It is vital to use the appropriate type of oil for your particular vehicle. Some manufacturers require certain viscosities to help reduce the risk of damage to your automobile and help ensure optimal performance. Unless specified, lighter oil is not necessarily better than heavier oil, but heavier oil can stick to parts between moving surfaces for longer periods of time. This may cause the oil to degrade quicker, and in turn, may lead to more frequent oil changes or other more serious problems. Typically, lighter oil flows faster allowing it to be replaced by fresh oil more easily. In addition to viscosity, engine oil is evaluated according to other requirements as well, such as oxidation, component wear, piston deposits, oil consumption, engine sludge, and fuel economy.
One major potential negative outcome of using the wrong oil is the development of oil sludge in your motor. This substance is a gel or solid that has formed in the oil and can contribute to internal combustion engine issues. The oil filter works to remove these particles and sludge to a certain degree but can eventually become clogged. Oil sludge may cause the vehicle to run poorly or even seize, and in some situations, may even require replacement of the engine entirely. Other effects of using the wrong oil in a vehicle include insufficient lubrication of the engine, poor or shaky performance, low gas mileage, the burning of oil, smoke production (sometimes thick and dark), and the overworking and/or overheating of the engine. Infrequent oil changes or using improper motor oil can also lead to the premature failure of the oil or fuel pump and can even cause your engine to seize. In a worst case scenario, the engine can fail completely and a rebuild or entire replacement may be required.
The best oil choice and oil change timetable to follow is the one specifically designed for your vehicle as described in the owner’s manual. However, in regards to time, there has always been a generally accepted equation of approximately every 3,000 – 3,500 miles or every 3 months. These figures have changed over the years and nowadays experts are recommending a higher bracket of getting routine oil changes roughly every 5,000 – 7,500 miles. You must also factor in your most frequent driving conditions that may impact the timetable, such as driving in intense heat or cold, or in dusty areas. Cold weather can thicken conventional oil, making the engine more difficult to crank, so lighter oils are often used in frigid climates, and lower viscosity oils are also becoming more common in new vehicles as well.
It is always best to choose to right oil for your vehicle to help keep it running smoothly. Also be sure to change the oil at the recommended intervals. If you have any questions or concerns, consult the owner’s manual for the best answers and results.