Why Oil Changes Really Make a Difference for Your Car

November 13th, 2020 by

A close up is showing fresh oil pouring out of a container.

Oil changes are extremely important for the performance and longevity of your car. If you’re wondering, “Who can perform an oil change near me?” The best resource is your local dealership service department. The expert technicians there can drain contaminated oil, replace the engine oil filter, and test your vehicle for optimum performance. But how does an oil filter work, and why is it important? When the engine’s oil pump moves oil through the filter, small synthetic fibers trap contaminants like dirt and metal particles while allowing clean oil back into the engine.

Many people wonder if oil changes are actually important. Even those who understand the importance of oil changes can be lax about scheduling this service when necessary. Read on to learn all about what oil changes do, why replacing the oil filter is necessary, and how this service works to protect your vehicle’s engine.

The Purpose of Engine Oil

Engine oil serves a number of purposes. The oil itself may not be considered a part of the vehicle’s engine but is so integral that it may as well be. Think of it as the blood of your vehicle. Every car’s engine contains a series of moving parts, all of which interact with one another to produce energy and propel your vehicle.

Engine oil lubricates each of these engine parts, running across surfaces to reduce friction so the parts can move freely and easily. Without oil, metal surfaces in your engine would scrape against each other with intense friction. In other words, engine oil makes your car more efficient, reduces engine damage, and overall helps vehicles run more smoothly.

What Goes Wrong

Engine oil and disposable parts, like oil filters, don’t last forever. Automotive technology hasn’t developed a method for engine parts to stay lubricated and working properly without maintenance. For now, we rely on our current system of regularly draining and replacing engine oil.

But what goes wrong with engine oil, and why do you need to change it? Oil can burn off or leak out over time, reducing the total amount of oil that is available to lubricate your engine as it operates. But more commonly, the oil simply becomes dirty. When you run your vehicle, oil moves through the engine and can collect particles like dirt, dust, and rust. These particles may come from the environment or even the inside of the car itself.

When your oil is contaminated, the substance that was formulated to lubricate your engine ends up scraping particles through it. Over time, contaminated oil will start to wear the surfaces in your vehicle’s engine rather than protecting them. This can even cause more friction in your engine than it prevents!

The engine oil filter can also deteriorate over time. When it becomes overly saturated with pollutants, it is unable to continue filtering out other pollutants. Unfiltered oil quickly becomes polluted and damaging to your engine. Worse, your oil pump will continue to cycle oil through the filter, even after it’s no longer functional. Over time, the oil can become recontaminated as it passes through a dirty container.

A bunch of used oil filters are shown in a cardboard box.

What Oil Filters Do

Oil filters are essential to maintaining the health of your engine oil. They filter out particles that contaminate the oil and trap pollutants in small fibers, so the engine oil stays clean and fluid. While many people imagine oil filters as simple layers of fabric, almost like coffee pot filters, car oil filters are more intricate and sturdy.

A vehicle oil filter is located directly on the engine’s mating surface, with a sealing gasket that holds it flush against the engine. Inside the filter are tiny holes and fine, synthetic fibers. When the engine oil pump pushes oil inside the filter, it courses through these fibers. The fibers, in turn, trap particles while also allowing clean oil to pass through – almost like passing dirty water through a strainer.

Clean oil returns to the central hole in the filter, where it cycles back to the engine while the fibers hold onto the contaminants. Oil continuously moves through the filter in order to stay clean. But for an oil filter to work properly, it must be a precise size and shape, with a gasket that sits flush against your engine. A poorly fitted filter can fall off, leak oil, or fail to thoroughly clean engine oil. Check your car’s manual to find out what types of oil and filters are appropriate for your vehicle.

DIY Dangers

Sure, it sounds easy enough to replace your oil, and many people are taught how to do so as a DIY task like changing a tire. There are many reasons why you should always entrust an oil change to an expert service team. First of all, professionals know the exact type of oil that’s best for your vehicle, its engine type, its mileage, local climate, and other factors. And, as said above, your car also needs a specific type of oil filter.

Professionals can assess your vehicle and find the products that work best for it. Even though your car manual may recommend a specific type of oil or filter, different manufacturers produce these products at different price ranges. An oil change professional can recommend the best product at the best value for your car. This doesn’t mean that you’re not responsible for your engine oil. In fact, you can do plenty to help protect your vehicle. First, check your engine oil levels regularly, especially as you begin approaching the recommended oil change interval.

To check your oil:

  1. Lift your engine hood and allow your vehicle to cool if you recently drove it.
  2. Locate the dipstick and lift it out of the oil tube.
  3. Wipe the dipstick clean, then push it completely back into its tube and remove it again.
  4. Check the oil film on the dipstick and make sure it is between the minimum and maximum markings.
  5. Note that some newer cars have electronic oil monitors accessed through the car’s interior displays rather than traditional dipsticks.

You can also use the dipstick to evaluate the oil’s color. The oil should be brown or black and uniform in color. If it appears milky, dirty, or uneven in color, there could be a problem with the oil or even the engine itself. Take your car to a local dealership service center for an expert diagnosis and repairs. But don’t worry – an oil change may be all you need to correct the problem.

You may have heard the recommendation that you should change your engine oil after 3,000 miles or every 3 months – whichever is first. However, this traditional rule of thumb mainly applies to older vehicles with natural oil. A modern vehicle with synthetic oil can go much further and longer between oil changes. Check your car’s manual to find the correct oil change interval for your vehicle and driving conditions.

A mechanic is checking the oil after an oil change near you.

Professional Oil Change

If you ignore the necessary task of having your vehicle’s oil changed, you may not even notice the difference – at first. But your engine performance, longevity, and stability can all suffer as a consequence. If you wait too long, you will eventually need a replacement engine. So be sure to have your engine oil changed as recommended.

For all your vehicle oil needs, visit a local auto dealership service center. Professional oil change services provide more thorough and accurate oil changes, the right oil and filter for your car engine’s needs, and even related services like basic vehicle inspections and tire air level checks. If you are in the Indianapolis area, then the Blossom Chevrolet service center is always available to keep your vehicle in running order.

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