In the human body, blood works to transport oxygen and nutrients to your cells and tissues, remove waste materials from your body, and protect you against harmful infection and foreign bodies. Engine oil works the same way in cars. It lubricates all the moving metal parts inside your car, and it keeps the engine clean and protected from contaminants.
But unlike blood, engine oil needs to be replaced periodically so it can do its job properly. But what happens when you get lazy and forget to do your oil change?
Mechanic Jeffrey De Leon once explained to us: “If you don’t [change your engine oil], the oil gets burned and nagiging sludge siya. The sludge becomes a solid material that will clog the oil passages. If the engine is not running, the oil is stored in the oil pan. In the middle of the oil pan is a strainer. Once you start the engine, the oil pump sucks oil from the pan. If you don’t change oil frequently, the sludge will get into the strainer. Once that’s blocked, oil won’t be supplied 100% to where it needs to go.”
Now, imagine all the metal parts of your car rubbing against one another sans engine oil. Imagine all the grinding, heat, and friction that happens. If you’re picturing things burning up and breaking apart under your hood, then you start to realize just how vital engine oil really is to your car.
One important thing you should always do to ensure your oil’s health is to periodically check its level inside the engine. The process takes just a few minutes, but it can go a long way towards your car’s preventive maintenance. For this, all you’ll need is a rag you can wipe the oil on.
Now, how often should you check your car’s engine oil? De Leon recommends checking it every day if possible, or at least as often as you can manage. As for oil change intervals, he says that using kilometer readings in our heavily congested environment is a common error.
“The problem is, let’s say you travel 10 kilometers one way in Metro Manila. In one day that’s 20 kilometers. But your car might be running around two hours one way because of traffic. So you might think that’s only 20 kilometers that your oil will have worked, but that’s not true. Once you start the engine, nagtatrabaho na siya,” he says.
To err on the side of caution, De Leon says changing your oil every 5,000km, regardless whether you use the fully synthetic kind or whatever else, is a good way to go. If you’re in doubt about how to check your oil or how often to change it, your best bet is to consult a mechanic yourself.