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Oil Change – Intervals, Costs, and Useful Information

Oil is responsible for two important jobs in your car. It greases the engine making it run smoothly, and it cools down the cylinders, pistons, and valves. Engine oil contains additives that better the way it performs. Therefore, in order for the oil to do its job smoothly in the truest sense of the word, it must be in good condition, otherwise, metal particles will accumulate in the oil and this gets worse with every mile. Consequently, the lubricating effects decline, and heat can’t be properly distributed causing the valves to deteriorate more quickly.

When does my engine need new oil?

The little red can symbol certainly is among one of the best and essential warning signals in your car. It tells you when you need to change the oil. Don't wait too long and follow the change schedule given in the car manufacturer's manual. Many garages also put a sticker on the vehicle (e.g. on the inner side of the driver's door) indicating at which kilometre/mileage reading the upcoming oil change has to be done. Basically, if you drive a lot or almost only in busy town traffic, you should have your oil changed more frequently because this puts more stress on the motor. The additives wear out even if the engine is only moved very little. Some on-board computers have a feature called "engine oil life". It shows in percent how much of the oil has already burnt off.

engine oil change

How often should I change the oil?

That depends on the engine and how much you drive. Some car owners still stick to the 3,000 rule, however, most experts agree that it’s a good idea to change your oil after 5,000 miles or approximately 6 months, depending on the make, model, and age of your car. Exact figures can be found in your car's owner's manual. If you use your car a lot, i.e. 10,000 to 15,000 kilometres per year (approximately 6,200-9,320 miles), you should change the oil more often. Needless to say, if you don’t drive your car much, the intervals will be longer. If you purchase a synthetic oil such as sae 5w 30 engine oil you may only need to change it every 7,500-15,000 miles as this is more refined than regular oil.

What can I expect to pay to have the oil changed?

An oil change in the UK can cost anywhere between £50-£160, depending on whether you go to a dealership or your local mechanic. Many garages use what is often called “premium oils”, which are 2 or even 3x more costly than regular car engine oil. It should be noted that this is really not “a must”, because the low-priced lubricants have also received a rating of “good”, to “very good”, in numerous tests and can be used without worrying that they may be inferior. It is also possible to purchase sae 5w 30 engine oil yourself and then take it to your mechanic.

What does an oil change in the garage entail?

An oil change is simple: your vehicle is put on the lifting platform and a pan that will collect the oil is placed under your car – now the oil drain plug is opened. The oil then drains into the pan, and after that, it is discarded in an ecological manner. The mechanic usually also takes the opportunity to change the sealing rings and the oil filter as well. The fresh engine oil is filled-up, the interval indicator is set again, and that's it! The best way to change the oil is to warm up the car on the way to the garage because this causes the oil to become thinner and drains more quickly and more thoroughly. The quicker oil flow also helps to remove residues from the lines. This takes about 30 minutes in total and this is also a good time to get the brake pads checked to see if they should be changed. The mechanic may also suggest that you get the brake discs changed as part of the regular maintenance.

car oil change

Why does engine oil turn black over time?

It doesn’t only become darker with age but also more viscous. This is due to the deposits and contamination, and the viscosity of the additives also decreases – therefore the oil’s quality decreases too. Neither lubrication nor cooling longer function correctly – leading to damage to the wear car engine parts and fuel consumption will go up as well.

Fresh oil should be dark orange, so be sure to do a colour check with a car oil dipstick. To do this, drive about six miles, then stop the car on a flat surface, wait about two minutes so that the oil can accumulate in the pan, then take a look. Please note that too much oil can cause damage to the engine, just like not using enough.

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