Oil Change Myths Oil Change Myths

Most of us know that the engine in our vehicles needs oil to operate smoothly. Engine oil keeps the moving engine parts lubricated, protects them from rust corrosion, and with modern oil additives keeps them sludge-free.

Along with the facts of what engine oil is and what it does are myths around how to swap it out. Should you really change the car's oil every 3,000 miles? Is dark oil a sign that it needs to be changed? Knowing what is fact and what is fiction can help you keep your engine from ruin.

Myth: You must change your oil every 3,000 miles

Fact: Technology allows newer cars to go for up to 7,500 miles between oil changes

In the past, almost every vehicle manufacturer in the world suggested that your engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles, no matter what. The oil used past that mark would fill with sludge, which would slow down the performance of the car and leave moving parts in danger of damage.

In today's world, this is no longer true. With detergent additives, better auto engineering, and improvements in oil viscosity, engines in cars today can run up to around 7,500 miles before the oil is changed. According to Consumer Reports, unless you drive your vehicle under unusually difficult conditions, driving your car 7,500 miles before changing the oil will not damage your engine.

Myth: You must have your oil changed at the dealership or you will void the warranty

Changing the car oil.

Fact: Your dealer warranty isn't voided if you get work done elsewhere

Provided you have the maintenance records for your vehicle, your warranty remains valid. It's illegal for a dealership to void your warranty or deny coverage just because someone else other than them did the work. Consumers are protected from voided warranties under the FTC's Magnuson-Moss Act of 1975.

Myth: You don't have to change the oil when it's recommended because new oils do not break down

Fact: All oil breaks down and needs to be replaced

Even though improvements have been made through the years in oil base stocks, there are many aspects to motor oil to debunk this myth. For one, due to high operating temperatures, oil inherently undertakes thermal breakdown. This causes the oil to become less effective as a lubricant, and without proper lubrication, engine parts will rub together and wear out. Secondly, additives in the oil have the power to neutralize acids and over time these additives are used up and stop being effective. And finally, oil can only absorb so much water, dust, and byproducts from combustion before it becomes saturated. Once the oil is no longer able to contain these elements, they all remain inside the motor and will cause corrosion.

Consider changing your motor oil more frequently if you live where the climate is extremely hot or cold, you often drive on dirt roads, and if your engine is old. You will also want to change your oil more frequently if you drive at high speeds or carry heavy loads regularly.

Myth: You can't go back to using conventional oil once you start using synthetic

Fact: You can switch back and forth between regular and synthetic oil

This is totally false. You can switch back and forth between synthetic and conventional oil at any time. Synthetic motor oil is simply a mixture of conventional oils and synthetic oils. For top-up purposes, however, it is recommended that you use the same oil which will give you the best protection from the oil that you already have in your engine.

Myth: If the engine oil is dark, it's time to change it

Motor oil.

Fact: The color of the oil doesn't indicate that it needs to changed

New motor oil is typically amber-colored. If your oil is dark, it means the oil is doing its job lubricating and protecting the interior metal surfaces of the engine. Oil will, however, become saturated enough to where it's no longer working properly. Use the oil change interval recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer to determine when to do an oil change. Do not think just by its color that it's time to change the oil.

Myth: Synthetic engine oil causes leaks in older cars

Fact: Using synthetic oils will improve the protection of an older engine as much as it does in newer ones

This myth is derived from the fact that synthetic oil is lower in viscosity than conventional oil and not as compatible with seals, which would create a leak in places regular oil would not. Again, this is not true.

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