Why is it Important to Have Your engine oil Changed Annually?
A rule of thumb is to have your engine oil changed annually regardless of how many or how few miles it has clocked. Once a year or every 12,000 kilometres – whichever comes first, and definitely once before winter sets in. This applies for new and old cars, and no matter how strongly you feel that everything is just fine with your car. Only the appropriate diagnostics at an mechanical repair centre can reveal if all the parts and components are in fine working order. It extends to oil, which is essential in keeping the engine lubricated properly. The main cause of engine sludge is ignoring the engine oil change when it is due.
The engine sludge problem
Over time, oil breaks down, combines with contaminants and collects on the engine as a solid or gel-like formation known as sludge. Sludge prevents the optimal lubrication of your engine’s moving parts. It increases friction and leads to excessive wear; in a worst case scenario, cause engine failure and require a full replacement.
If you’ve bought a used car whose oil change and routine maintenance was neglected by the previous owner, you may face sludge and engine problems even if you change the oil every 5,000 kilometres or so.
Your car’s been inactive for a long time? There’s even more reason to get its oil changed. That’s because short and irregular commutes are among the common causes of engine sludge formation. When you don’t drive your car regularly, the engine won’t get adequately heated to burn off water vapour. The vapour will then mix with the oil and cause a milky sludge. You will then have to get an earlier oil change, at intervals of 5,000-6,000 kilometres or every six months.
Check your owner’s manual
Your owner’s manual will have information on oil change. For instance, the Toyota Prius has a recommended oil change interval of one year. The interval can depend on the type of oil used. It is one year for Toyota cars using 0W-20 synthetic oil. For cars using 5w-20/5w-30 mineral oil, the interval is six months. Regardless of whether the oil change interval is short or extended, it is important to have oil level checked periodically and top-off as required.
Should you rely on your oil life monitor?
Your car may have a basic oil life monitor that looks at the mileage range to remind you that your next service is due. Or it may have an advanced monitor that uses sensors and algorithms to predict the life of your oil. Problem is, if you don’t do short commutes or engage in stop-and-go driving in heavy traffic, your oil life monitor may not turn on the maintenance light for 20,000 km or more. It is therefore, advisable to opt for annual oil change to prevent engine problems and expensive repair or replacement.
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