One of the many services that we offer here at Big Brand Tire and Service are oil changes. This includes the draining of the old oil, the replacement of the oil filter, and filling up with new oil. Every car has its own requirements for what type of oil should be used as well as the interval at which the oil must be changed. Engine oil provides three key functions in a modern internal combustion engine:
Eventually, as the oil gets dirtier and dirtier, it will stop lubricating and the engine will quickly wear and fail. Dirt will accumulate in the oil. The filter will remove the dirt for a while, but eventually the filter will clog and the dirty oil will automatically bypass the filter through a relief valve. Dirty oil is thick and abrasive, so it causes more wear. Also the additives in the oil, like detergents, dispersants, rust-fighters and friction reducers, will wear out; so the oil won't lubricate as well as it should.
There are many different weights of oil, such as 10W-30, 5W-30, and 0W-20 being some of the more popular. These different oil types are referred to as different viscosities. Viscosity, put very simply, is a fluid's resistance to flow. Typically it is notated with the common “XW-XX." (example: 5W-30) The number before the "W" (winter) rates the oil's flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower the number here, the less it thickens in the cold. So 5W-30 viscosity engine oil thickens less in the cold than a 10W-30, but more than a 0W-30. An engine in a colder climate, where motor oil tends to thicken because of lower temperatures, would benefit from 0W or 5W viscosity. A car in Death Valley would need a higher number to keep the oil from thinning out too much. Another factor that comes into play is the advancement of engines in the last decade or so. As engines become more and more precise, there is less of a need for thicker oil, and an increase in demand for thinner oil. For this reason a newer car is more likely to call for thinner (0W-20) rather than thicker (10W-30) oil. The second number after the "W" indicates the oil's viscosity measured at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This number represents the oil's resistance to thinning at high temperatures. For example, 10W-30 oil will thin out at higher temperatures faster than 10W-40 will. The owner's manual provided by your vehicle’s manufacturer will recommend the ideal viscosity range for your car.
Next, we need to determine whether your vehicle requires conventional or synthetic oil. Typically if your car started with conventional, stick with it. If it first used synthetic, be wary about switching to conventional.
Oil plays a critical role in engine operation. Pumped through the engine under pressure, oil forms a thin film between all of the moving surfaces inside an engine, creating a physical boundary that prevents metal surfaces from touching. As time passes the oil becomes contaminated with byproducts of burning gasoline, reducing its effectiveness at providing that lubricating layer. It also accumulates small particles which can cause sludge in your engine and if left long enough can cause your engine to seize. This is why it is always important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and perform oil changes within the intervals required in the vehicle’s instruction manual. The standard recommendation is to get an oil change every 3 months or 3,000 miles. However, many kinds of driving conditions put a vehicle under the severe conditions category, and thus require oil changes more frequently. Severe service conditions can include, among other things:
As a rule of thumb, it is always safe to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as found in the instruction manual.