Cars, Featured

What Happens if You Don’t Change Your Oil?

Martin Banks

Driving to your local Jiffy Lube for an oil change is frustrating with a busy schedule. Fortunately, you can always put it off for a few more days, right?

Well, procrastinating this small responsibility for too long can lead to all sorts of problems with your engine.

So what happens if you don’t change your oil?

Why Do You Need Oil?

Why do you need to worry about oil in your engine? The simple answer to this question is that it keeps all the moving parts from rubbing against each other and wearing out. Oil acts as a lubricant, reducing friction and helping to keep your engine running smoothly. That isn’t it’s only job, though.

Oil also acts as a heat exchanger, carrying heat away from the engine to keep it from overheating. While it’s not as effective as your car’s cooling system, it helps to keep heating from building up and causing damage. It helps to move dust and debris out of the engine and into the oil filter where they can’t cause any damage, and prevents corrosion from building up in your engine.

Keeping enough of the right oil in your engine is an important part of regular maintenance, but what happens if you keep putting off that appointment at your local repair shop?

What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Oil?

Look at an example of clean motor oil, straight from the bottle. It’s a transparent amber liquid that comes in varying levels of viscosity and will flow freely from the bottle at room temperature.

Now compare that to oil that’s spent a few thousand miles in an engine under normal driving conditions. The clean amber liquid is now black and sludgy. It’s been subjected to high temperatures and collected the dirt and debris that would otherwise damage the interior of the engine.

What happens if you don’t change your oil?

For a while, nothing. You can go for a couple of months or a few thousand miles beyond your recommended maintenance schedule without the world ending. But the longer you wait to change your oil, the worse the consequences will become.

As it ages, your oil loses its viscosity. It stops working as effectively, and then stops working altogether. Once it does, your engine is in danger of cascade failure. Neglecting your oil changes lead to wear and tear in the engine, heat damage, and eventually, complete engine failure. If you get to that point, you could find yourself having to replace your entire engine or buy a new car.

It might not be as damaging as, say, doing donuts in an empty parking lot, but it can still be fairly devastating. That’s a pretty drastic consequence when you consider that you could have prevented all of this trouble with a $30 oil change once in a while.

It’s important to note that this only applies to vehicles with internal combustion engines as well as hybrids that supplement their engines with battery power. Fully electric vehicles don’t have the same moving parts that traditional engines do, so they don’t have oil or any need for an oil change. These modern marvels do have their own maintenance schedules which you’ll need to follow to ensure that they run smoothly, but an oil change isn’t necessary.

How Often Should You Change Your Oil?

Now you know that changing your oil is important, how often should you be making a trip to your local mechanic? It’s not as often as you might think. Quick lube chains have been using the “3 Month/3,000 mile” line as a gimmick to bring in customers for decades, but modern oils don’t need to be changed that often.

The best place to get this answer is actually in your owner’s manual. Newer cars may go anywhere from 7,500 to 10,000 miles between oil changes — or up to 15,000 for cars using synthetic oils.

Changing your oil more often than that won’t do any damage but you’ll end up wasting a lot of money unnecessarily. Don’t buy into the 3 month deadline, but make sure you’re getting your oil changed according to the manufacturer recommended maintenance schedule.

Looking Forward

Changing your oil might be a hassle, but it’s something that you shouldn’t skip. Going too long between oil changes could end up costing you a lot more than a trip to Jiffy Lube.

You risk complete engine failure, which will set you back thousands of dollars and leave you without a car in the meantime. Don’t risk engine damage. Just get your oil changed according to manufacturer recommendations.

Martin Banks
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