What Happens If I Wait Too Long for an Oil Change?
We’ve all been there.
Driving along, minding our own business when you notice the tiny sticker in the corner of your car’s windshield that reminds you when you need to get your next oil change. You read the number then scan your odometer. You notice something: You completely forgot the oil change you needed 500 miles ago. Oops.
But bringing your car into the shop is the last thing you want to do. You may even feel like you don’t have enough time in the week to fit in an oil change. You think to yourself “I could go another couple hundred miles without an oil change, right? What could go wrong?”
The fact is: a lot. Delaying or ignoring your next oil change can lead to disastrous results.
Of course, various components of your vehicle may need to be checked and fixed from time to time, but nothing compares to how important routine oil change service is to the overall maintenance of your vehicle. During an oil change, the old and dirty oil is taken from a vehicle’s engine and replaced with new, fresh oil. Your oil filter should also be changed at this time.
What Does Engine Oil Do?
To understand why we need to change our oil, it’s important to understand exactly what your engine oil does. Every engine needs oil, but not just any oil. As a matter of fact, every vehicle has its own requirements when it comes to the type of oil you should be using. To put it simply, base oils are the backbone of the finished lubricant that ends up in your engine. They can be conventional, synthetic, a blend or high-mileage.
Your automobile engine has many moving parts. When the piston assembly and the connecting rods move against each other, friction creates heat. Luckily, your vehicle’s oil lubricates the engine while absorbing the heat emitted. This allows the internal components of the engine to work together seamlessly without overheating.
Over time, your engine oil begins to break down and wear out. This causes the oil to become increasingly less effective at lubricating your engine’s parts and absorbing heat.
How Often Should I Get My Oil Changed?
As a general rule of thumb, many mechanics will recommend that you change your oil every 3,000 miles. Automobile manufacturers might suggest a longer interval, such as 5,000 miles. If you use special synthetic oil, and some manufacturers may even recommend 10,000 miles between oil changes. [JR1] [JR2] [JR3]
Ultimately, how often you should get your oil changed is based on your vehicle’s year, make, model, and other specifics. Typically, older cars’ oil change schedules are based on mileage and have maintenance schedules based on the number of miles driven per year. These are defined as “normal” and “severe service” plans.
Severe service is recommended if you are operating your car under any of these conditions:
- Primarily short trips (usually 5 miles or less)
- Extremely hot, cold, or dusty climate
- Sustained stop-and-go driving
- Carrying heavy loads
- Using vehicle to tow trailer
If your car needs more severe service, as outlined in your owner’s manual, make sure to maintain a rigorous schedule. When it comes to newer cars, more often than not they are equipped with oil-life monitoring systems that automatically let you know when an oil change is needed. Simple systems will let you know when it’s time to change your oil based on time and mileage, but more advanced systems analyze your driving conditions to let you know when your oil begins to degrade.
When an oil change is completed, you should always ensure that you or your service expert reset your vehicle’s oil-monitoring system. This ensures that you can keep your proper maintenance schedule.
When fewer oil changes occur, it is imperative that you check your oil level via the engine’s dipstick every month and top it off as needed. Many engines use way less than a quart between changes, but some engines can use up to a quart for every 600 miles or so. When checking your oil, it is also a good habit to notice the color. Although oil color is not the only indicator of oil life, good oil should be a clear, brown-black color. If the oil is murky or milky, service is needed as soon as possible.
If you have any questions about what oil service plan is best for you and your vehicle, please contact a CBA auto expert – find your closest store here.
What Happens if I Wait Too Long for an Oil Change?
As mentioned before, over time, your engine oil begins to break down and wear out. This causes the oil to become increasingly less effective at lubricating and absorbing heat. If your oil continues to run through your engine unchanged, you’ll begin to face a laundry list of problems.
In fact, if you wait too long for an oil change, your smooth and clean oil will turn into dirty sludge. When this happens, your engine must work harder to fight through the buildup of muck. It loses its lubrication, and decreases heat absorption. This means that your car will be susceptible to major issues.
Not changing your car’s oil can lead to:
- Voiding Your Car’s Warranty – Especially if you bought your car brand new, it’s important to make sure your oil is being changed based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. Failing to do so can completely void your car’s warranty and leave you with no help when something major occurs!
- Warped Engine Components – Since heat is no longer being removed and there is virtually no lubrication, your engine components will begin to fight, push, and grind against each other. This will lead to warping the parts in your engine, which will cause the engine to seize. Unfortunately, there is no fix to this and usually results in a full engine replacement.
- Blown Head Gasket – A blown head gasket will stop you in your tracks. Fixing a blown head gasket can be a costly repair, depending on the age and value of your vehicle. Many times, you may need to replace the engine if this happens.
- Engine Running Inefficiently – Besides lubrication, your engine’s oil also keeps your engine clean. Additives that transport dirt and debris are trapped in the filter, which is also replaced during an oil change. This can lead to a decline in driving quality and engine power.
- Complete Engine Failure – If you go long enough without an oil change, it could cost you a car. Once the motor oil becomes sludge, it no longer removes heat from the engine. This can lead to a complete engine shutdown that will require a brand new engine – or a new ride – to fix.
If you prolong your oil change long enough, eventually your entire engine will lock up and need to be replaced. Of course, this repair can cost thousands of dollars. Many times, when an engine shuts down, many people sell their cars as-is to a scrap yard and buy a new vehicle.
Of course, these are very scary! From overheating engines to voiding your car’s warranty, your oil change is crucial to the overall safety and lifespan of your vehicle. Lucky for you, oil changes continue to be one of the least expensive and quickest maintenance services available.
Christian Brothers Automotive Oil Services
We get it. Spending time at an auto shop is nowhere close to the perfect – let alone ideal – day. Here at Christian Brothers Automotive, we provide reliable and dependable auto care services. Our auto experts never recommend services to make a sale; instead, we recommend services that are designed to keep you, your family, and others on the road safe.
Not only are we looking to redefine what it means to be an auto mechanic, but we want to redefine what it means to be an auto shop. We offer clean, comfortable waiting rooms stocked with complimentary, refreshing beverages and lightning fast free Wi-Fi.
So, next time you need an oil change – or if you’re long overdue – turn to the experts at Christian Brothers Automotive for fast, convenient, and reliable services. You can find your closest store here.