Your engine is the heart of your vehicle and it should be treated as such to function properly. The best way to take care of your engine is with regular and standard oil changes. This not only protects the engine from wear and tear, sludge, and complete damage, but it also prolongs engine life.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY OIL CHANGE?
An oil change is simply the replacement of oil in an engine. The oil used in the engine is constantly degrading while the engine is running. This is due to mechanical and thermal actions in the engine. The mechanical actions involve the parts that make the engine work e.g., the pistons. The process of the mechanical parts rubbing against each other while the engine is running leads to thermal action. This also determines drain time.
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF LUBRICANTS IN THE ENGINE?
Lubrication – The main function of any lubricant is to reduce friction. The engine is made up of several moving components constantly rubbing against one another. As a result of this constant motion, there is wear and tear on the components due to friction. Your engine oil reduces this wear and tear by lubricating all these moving parts and reducing friction.
Protects Against Rust and Corrosion – Lubricants also protect against rust and corrosion. Lubricants are made up of base oils and additives. Some of these additives are specially put into the lubricants to stop rust and corrosion
Evacuates heat – As the engine functions and the moving parts continue to rub against one another, heat is generated. Without the lubricant in the engine, this heat would build up and be unbearable for the engine. The engine oil allows reduces friction thereby reducing the heat in the engine
Removes Impurities – Your engine oil also cleans the engine as it lubricates. So many impurities are sucked into the engine as it draws in air from the atmosphere to operate. Your engine serves as a cleaning agent to remove these impurities from sticking to the engine and reducing its functionality
Improves Tightness – Your engine oil forms a seal inside the engine and allows the engine to be compact and operate optimally.
WHY DO WE NEED AN OIL CHANGE?
As the engine works, the efficiency of the oil drops. The reason for this drop is Oxidation. Oxidation of engine lubricants occurs when the oil reacts with oxygen. It causes a chemical change that often results in oil thickening, formation of sludge and deposits, depletion of additives and accelerated degradation. Oxidation occurs as a result of several factors which include heat and other prevalent conditions (like air and heat) within the engine. Oxidation also causes Oil to thicken thereby reducing its viscosity.
WHEN DOES A CAR NEED AN OIL CHANGE?
A vehicle needs an oil change regularly. It is imperative that as you use your vehicle you change the oil to improve the engine’s efficiency. Oil change is dependent on how frequently we use our vehicles and the degree of work we put our engines through. I would advise the regular individual who uses his or her vehicle to go to work and back and probably drives around on the weekend to carry out an oil change every quarter (that is every 3 months). This would negate the oil totally degrading and losing its functionality. A lot of automobile mechanics also advise their clients to do an oil change every 5,000 kilometres. This may also be advisable. For commercial vehicles that are probably on the roads throughout the whole day, it is advisable to carry out an oil change every month.
ARE THERE ANY PHYSICAL SIGNS SHOWING MY OIL NEEDS TO BE CHANGED?
Motorists should gauge their engine oil very regularly. This would allow an individual to know if there is adequate engine oil to properly aid the engine’s operations. There is really no real effective physical way of totally confirming if engine oil is bad. We see auto mechanics checking the colour of the engine oil to ascertain if it’s bad or rubbing it between their fingers to check if it is loose. The fact is that even though an engine oil still retains its golden or brown look as against a darkened black colour and it still feels thick enough when rubbed between the tip of the fingers, oxidation may have already occurred to extreme extents due to overuse.
This would lead to the acidity of the engine oil. This acidity of the engine oil increases the risk of corrosion. Also, with continued use beyond the advised period, the engine oil comes into more contact with pollutants from the air. These pollutants may be soot from other exhausts, sodium from grease, glycol from some types of unadvised coolants, water from the environment, silicon from dust or worn out metal scraps from components of the engine. These impurities cannot be physically noticed.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT TYPE OF OIL TO USE IN OUR VEHICLES?
Many Nigerians use the wrong type of engine oils because of misinformation or affordability. This is why we have a lot of damaged engines. It is better to use the right lubricants in your engine and have the vehicle firing and functioning properly than using the wrong type and having to do major repairs down the line. We see some vehicles struggling to go up slopes, hills or bridges. A lot of times this may be because of the degradation of the engine due to the use of the wrong engine oil.
Consult your car manual for advice on the type of engine oil to be used. It is stated in the car manual or on the cover of your engine where lubricants are poured into. The engine oil specification is stated on the cover and use must follow the specifications when purchasing your oils. For example, you may see 0W30 on the engine cover or in the manual. You could also see 15W40. Whatever the specification please consult your automobile mechanic with the specification and ensure you use the right oil.