Engine Oil – Facts and Fiction
March 15th, 2017
Updated March 15th, 2017
Winchester, Virginia - Most of us are well aware that we need oil in our vehicle's engine in order for them to operate properly. The main job of your engine oil is to ensure that all of the different moving parts within your car's engine will stay well-lubricated, and free from rust or corrosion. Thanks to the various detergents and additives that are found in modern engine oil, your engine can enjoy more miles of performance without accumulating sludge and gunk.
Although most of us are familiar with the general role that oil plays, many times our knowledge is limited where the specific functions and properties of oil are concerned. This can lead to a lot of misconceptions, and can have you falling victim to various myths, assumptions and urban legends regarding engine oil that simply aren't true. Below are some of the most common engine oil myths being circulated today, and the facts that debunk them.
Myth # 1: You should change your oil every 3,000 miles (or 3 months).
This is a great example of a highly popular recommendation that was true at one time, but is not necessary to adhere to anymore. Years ago, auto manufacturers used to suggest the 3,000 mile/3-month rule almost universally, but over time, technological advances in how engine oil is made have rendered that old adage obsolete. Modern engine oils include certain additives that improve the viscosity and durability of the oil, which basically means that it doesn't break down or get dirty as quickly as it used to. A more accurate recommendation for modern oils and engines is a 7,500-mile interval, unless you drive your car under exceptionally harsh conditions. When the time comes for your engine oil to be changed, you can take it to an auto repair shop and get it taken care of by professional technicians who can provide you with accurate recommendations for your particular vehicle.
Myth # 2: When your engine oil begins to turn dark, that means that it's dirty and needs to be changed.
If you check your oil after a fresh oil change, you will more than likely see an amber-colored, mostly translucent oil on the dipstick. This new oil doesn't keep this appearance for long, and neither should it. As the oil begins to circulate through your engine on a regular basis, it ends up taking on a darker appearance due to tiny particles accumulating in the oil. While this may seem like a negative, it is actually a positive, because as long as the oil keeps these particles in suspension, they cannot build up or accumulate in the engine and turn into sludge. If your oil has a darker appearance, that simply means that it's doing its job. There is a limit, however, to the amount of particles that the oil can keep in suspension, and at that point it will need to be changed.
Myth # 3: You should use oil additives to improve the performance of your engine oil.
While it is true that additives can improve engine oil performance, they are nothing that you have to go out and buy separately to add to your engine oil. These additives are already included within modern engine oil, so if you add anything else, it can possibly reduce the effectiveness of the additives that are already there.
Common myths such as these are often the result of a lack of accurate information regarding engine oil. Be sure to investigate the validity of different "recommendations" you may gather by hearsay, and feel free to check those assumptions against the information listed above.
*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair. Copyright Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto March 2017