Gasoline may keep it running, but oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. Oil is essential for keeping the many components of the engine working efficiently, and it helps reduce the accumulation of varnish and carbon from collecting on the engine. The internal combustion engine is exactly what it sounds like; thousands of tiny explosions which drive the pistons, ultimately propelling the vehicle. This process involves quite a bit of heat, and oil helps pull this heat away from the combustion chamber. This prevents the engine from blowing up. As oil collects this heat, as well as the varnish and carbons that are created as part of the combustion process, it eventually becomes less like liquid and more like sludge. In addition, the additives are used up, reducing the oil’s efficiency. When this happens, it’s time for an oil change.

How often and what kind of oil should be used? Factors to consider include the type of car and how you drive it. An soccer mom’s SUV that spends most of its time driving in suburbia will require different oil than a sports car that drives almost exclusively on the interstate. As far as how often you should change your oil, the old adage suggests every 3 months or 3,000 miles. In actuality, the time is far less important than the mileage. You may go on a road trip and burn through a few thousand miles in a few weeks, or it may take five months before you reach the recommended mileage. Pay attention to the odometer and how you’ve been driving your vehicle. You should also be aware of other factors that might affect the speed at which your car’s oil degrades. Driving in extreme weather or towing a lot of weight behind your car might require more frequent oil changes.

You might think that it’s no big deal to put off getting your oil changed, or that it’s too expensive to have it done as frequently as the manufacturer recommends, but delaying or skipping oil changes can lead to more serious problems that are far more difficult (and expensive) to remedy. Avoid these problems by keeping your car’s oil changes on schedule.

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