How Often Do You Really Need An Oil Change?

2019 Kia

Serving Gainesville, Toccoa, Jefferson ,Cumming, and Canton, GA

There are a lot of myths out there that motor oil today is of such a superior quality that you don’t have to change it as frequently as you might think. The truth is a bit more complicated and may turn on your driving habits more than anything. In any regard, when in doubt consult a specialist who works on your model.

How Often Do You Really Need An Oil Change?

Motor Oil Isn’t Just Made of Oil

Motor oil is becoming increasingly complex. There are many components to a quality motor oil that few people consider when shopping for motor oil or taking their vehicle in for service. A modern motor oil is made of many base oil blends and may contain as much as 30% in additives. The oils may be fully synthetic, fully natural, or a combination. In any case, the premium oil bases may need to be blended with inferior oils to perform different functions.

A natural oil contains paraffin waxes that can clog up the engine, heat the engine unevenly, and lead to premature wear and tear. The only benefit of conventional oils over synthetics is their ability to band-aid leaks because they are so waxy. When the oil starts to seep out of a porous seal, it will cool down and sludge up like blood clotting. This is great for leaks but terrible for oil pickup screens, turbo oil-cooler piping, and engine parts in general. Some oils, like those made by Pennzoil and Quaker State, were studied and found to have terrible high paraffin wax content.

A full synthetic oil is homogeneous at a molecular level. This allows the oil to retain even heat distribution throughout without developing the hotspots that damage engine parts. The pistons in an engine expand when the engine heats up to just below their melting point. When you have uneven heat distribution, this puts additional stress on the engine parts and leads to premature failure. Heat also causes volatilization of the engine oil and strips those parts of protection.

The additives in motor oil are necessary to inhibit oxidation, to enable pouring in all temperatures, to absorb acids, and to lubricate high-friction points of the engine under heavy workloads. It is believed that much of the wear and tear in a late-model engine is accumulated by moisture condensing and diluting the motor oil. If you do not put your engine under heavy workloads that bring it up to operating temperatures for durations sufficient to volatilize the water, it will begin to decompose and put your engine under more stress.

When Should You Change Your Oil

Considering the diversity and complexity of oils available, it makes sense to follow the factory recommendations published in your owner’s manual. Most manufacturers recommend changing conventional motor oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles. If you drive using full synthetic motor oils, you may be able to stretch your intervals to 10,000 miles or every 6 months. For most people, they want to change their oil weight to match the seasons, regardless of how many miles they may be able to drive.

The bulk of wear on your engine is incurred at start-up when the parts have not yet been lubricated with a coating of oil and leaky injectors may have rinsed away any protective coating. If you do a lot of short trips and parking, it makes sense to replenish your oil more frequently.