ENGINE OIL - HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE IT?
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
Hi everybody and welcome to my first BLOG for ATIC Mechanical, I hope you find them useful and if there is anything specific that you would like me to cover just let me know.
There is always a lot of confusion as to how frequently you need to change engine oil in your vehicle so I am going to cover off on some of the key areas of this topic and hopefully give you a better understanding of what is best for your vehicle.
Firstly, let’s look at the role that engine oil plays in the running of your vehicle:
1. To provide lubrication to your engine (pretty obvious right!)
2. To carry harmful particles to the oil filter
3. To act as a coolant for your engine
Whilst engine oils have changed dramatically over the years these three factors have remained constant.
Today’s engine oils are made from a much higher-quality base stock but they have also been extensively engineered with specific additives to ensure that each of the main roles mentioned above are addressed, ensuring that your engine will last longer than an English Summer!
So how frequently do you need to change your engine oil? Some people will tell you every 5,000km’s, some will say every 10,000km’s and some people will say once every 6-12 months regardless of how far you have travelled.
Confused yet? Well I don’t blame you.
Before we look into how frequently you need to change your oil it is important to understand why you need to change your oil and the answer to that is simple, old oil doesn’t do the job as well as new oil. I can hear some of you saying “well thanks Captain Obvious” but let me elaborate a bit further.
Specific additives that are in your oil will burn out over time which limits the oils effectiveness to protect your engine, in the crankcase contaminates will form and eat away at the metal and you will also start to collect water which when mixed with the oil create sludge in your engine which again limits the oils ability to play its vital role in protecting your engine. The oil will then hold more abrasive particles of metal and it is these particles that over time will wear away the parts of the engine the oil is supposed to be protecting.
Have a look at the oil filter below that we pulled from a vehicle to see what I am talking about.
Oil in that car is going to give you about as much protection as a condom from a pin factory!
So how frequently do you need to change your oil? Well firstly you should always refer to your vehicles owner’s manual for guidance but like most people that open these up they are about as interesting to read as the dictionary.
One of the things that you will find in your owners’ manual is a comment about driving in “optimal operating conditions” or something similar. Under these conditions most modern vehicles (2008 build onwards) will tell you to change your oil every 10,000km’s. For vehicles that operate under “extreme operating conditions” the recommendation will be to change your engine oil every 5,000km’s.
So, what is “optimal” and what is “extreme”?
Well like everything in the Territory, we are extreme! Extreme conditions include driving in very hot weather or in areas with a lot of blowing dust or dirt, sounds familiar doesn’t it. Other extreme conditions are when you only drive short distances and don’t get up to high speeds on the highway or are towing or hauling heavy loads.
Like most people these days we are always trying to save money wherever we can and so changing your oil and filter every 5,000km’s may seem a bit excessive. However, when you consider that an oil and oil filter change on a 2010 Toyota Corolla will cost you around $250 and you can also get your vehicle checked over at the same time to ensure you haven’t got any other problems, then I’m sure you would agree it is worth doing. As they say prevention is always better than cure.
Another key point that I would like to make before finishing is whenever you change your engine oil always make sure that includes an oil filter, there is no point putting in fresh oil if it is only going to mix with all of the old sludge that sits in the filter, see picture above.
Well that brings to an end my first BLOG for the team here at ATIC Mechanical, I hope it helped clear up some of the confusion around how often you need to change your engine oil and filters, thanks for reading.