One of the ways to extend the life of the engine , the car , and its correct operation is to change the oil when appropriate. It is perhaps one of the most economical but at the same time the most important basic vehicle maintenance actions.
A vehicle that does not have an oil change can suffer more wear, which can cause breakdowns more quickly and increase fuel consumption. We tell you everything you need to know.
Oil changes and oil filter
Oil is the blood of the car . It is what allows the engine to perform its function correctly. Its aim is to provide a film of oil between the moving parts of the engine to decrease friction and maintain an optimal service temperature within the engine block.
Manufacturers usually recommend checking the oil level every 5,000 kilometers or 3 months. In this case, with the engine cold or hot, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, and the vehicle stopped on the level, we extract the dipstick and check if it is between the MAX and MIN levels.
In the case of being below the minimum, we should fill with the same oil, and in case of exceeding the maximum, call a tow truck to take the car to the workshop to remove the excesses. Excess oil could cause serious engine damage.
All manufacturers recommend changing the oil and oil filter (together with the oil washer) between 15,000km and 30,000km or a maximum of 2 years, whichever comes first. It is not advisable to exceed this limit, since the oil it loses many of its properties.
On the other hand, we must also know that if we make too many short trips where the car does not reach service temperature or we practice sports driving, the oil change must be done before, as also indicated by the manufacturer in these cases.
Choosing a quality oil with the correct viscosity grades is very important, as not all engines carry the same oil. If you do not know what oil your vehicle should carry, consult the owner’s manual provided by the manufacturer.
The oil change service usually includes a filter and washer change. The average cost for a normal car is usually between $120 and $250 in normal workshops and a little more in official services. Later we will teach you how to change the oil yourself and save you good money.
The engine and cabin air filter must also be changed, but with longer periods.
Types of engine oil
There are two main types of oil according to its manufacture: conventional or mineral and synthetic. The mineral oils are rarely used today. They are those that come from direct oil distillation. On the other hand, synthetic or semi-synthetic oils are made in the laboratory and withstand different conditions better. A 100% synthetic oil is always recommended.
It may seem difficult to decipher what the oil acronyms mean, but it is nothing to write home about. To understand what these specifications mean, we must know that there are oils with different grades and chemical compositions.
The majority of today’s oils are multi-grade, so they are designed to work in cold and hot. Oil classifications are governed by the acronym SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). On the oil containers, you will see that they include nomenclature of the style “10w40” or “5w30”. What does it mean? The first number corresponds to the viscosity at room temperature or winter (winter’s w) and the second number to the viscosity at service temperature. Transmission oils work differently!
What oil does my car have?
The first thing we must do is look in the user manual for the indications on SAE and ACEA required by the manufacturer. If we go to a professional workshop, they will be in charge of pouring the corresponding oil. With the law in hand, the workshop is obliged to show you the parts or lubricants used. Do not trust anyone and demand your right.
It is important, whether you change it yourself, or if you do it in a workshop, to demand a quality oil and not get carried away only by the recommendation of the workshop, especially if it is a fast mechanic service since they use their own oils that leave more profit for them under the typical slogan of “is the second brand of X”. Most times, it is usually false. The same goes for changing tires.
What if I don’t change the oil when it plays?
The fact that the manufacturer specifies not to exceed the 15,000 or 30,000 kilometers that it indicates does not mean that when this figure is exceeded, the engine will explode, but it does mean that we begin to play with fire. From this limit, the oil already starts to degrade and breakdowns could occur. If your car is also under warranty and you do not respect the maintenance plan, you could get into a lot of trouble or even deny warranty coverage.
Our recommendation is to change the oil when indicated or before, but if we go over the limit, do not rush more than 1,000 extra kilometers.
What happens if I mix oils?
That going ahead is that it is not advisable to mix oils, but if in the middle of a trip the notice pops up that there is no oil and we have to refill, we must ensure that it is the same grade and type as the one you already carry. That way, the consequences are minimized. If, on the other hand, we add oil of different viscosity, what we will do is create a new mixture, with more or less viscosity than required, which could put the health and maintenance of the engine at risk.