Knock Knock, Who’s There? Dirty Oil, That’s Who
Sometimes the things that we expect to be simple aren’t, including vehicle maintenance. We think of our cars, trucks, and SUVs as tools: things that help us get the essential duties done and take us to life’s fun events. But it’s no fun when the car doesn’t run.
From time to time our vehicles remind us that they need us to take care of them, too. Let us help you with some basic information you need to keep your vehicle moving.
What is Engine Oil?
Conventional motor oil (sometimes called engine oil) is crude oil that’s distilled and mixed with additives. Newer synthetic oils often start with crude oil components, but these oils are “man-made,” designed and manufactured to do a better job in your engine.
What Does the Oil Do?
Auto engines are incredibly complex and made (mostly) from metal. The metal parts must work together at very high speeds and temperatures, so they need constant lubrication – your oil provides that.
The additives in motor oil also help clean your engine. The oil picks up tiny pieces of metal and dirt as it moves through the engine and deposits it in the filter, which needs to be changed regularly.
Oil’s third purpose is to cool those fast-moving engine parts.
Perhaps you’re saying, “There are so many kinds of oil, so what does my car need?” Your car has specific requirements – don’t think that just any old oil will do. Most (not all) vehicles can use conventional motor oil. Old (high-mileage) engines can benefit from oil with additives to help older engines keep working.
Synthetic and synthetic-hybrid oils are newer and can help a newer or specialized engine to run well for longer, but they are not suitable for older engines.
How Do I Know Which Oil is Best for My Vehicle?
Oil weights differ. Using the wrong weight can cause engine damage, and here in Michigan, you may need to change weight in an older car to protect your engine in the winter.
Here’s one answer that works for everyone, no matter what your make or model: check your owner’s manual. If it’s missing, you can check the cap on the oil filler tube, call the dealer or an auto supply store – or take your vehicle to a place you can trust: Enter Louie and John’s Complete Auto Service of Ann Arbor.
The keyword here is trust. We understand your need to get going, so we get going on your job – right away. No waiting! And because we know cars like nobody’s business, that makes you our business.
Why Should I Change the Oil?
Why not just check the level and keep adding more? Remember what we said about oil cleaning and lubricating? Look at the oil’s color in the new can and the color of the oil on your dipstick. The used oil has picked up dirt and debris and has broken down from heat and no longer does its job well.
We’ve all seen old “oil burner” cars with black smoke coming from the tailpipe – that’s what happens as your engine wears out.
Why Should I Have My Oil Changed Regularly?
• Oil changes keep your engine clean, but you must also change the filter, which will be full of gunk.
• Regular changes can improve engine performance and lengthen engine life. When engine parts are covered in sludge and not lubricated well, it’s harder for the engine to run as designed.
• Regular changes can improve gas mileage. Truth! All that dirt, grit, and sludge make it harder for the engine to work, which means the engine has to use more gas to work. Remember that good gas mileage also relies on other factors, like how you drive.
• Regular changes can help the environment. Remember that black smoke? We don’t need more junk in the air.
• Regular changes give you a chance to check other systems in your car and do other maintenance tasks, like rotating tires, checking other fluid levels, and cleaning your battery.
When Should I Change My Oil?
Well, there are three ways to look at it:
- You could wait until the warning light on your dashboard comes on.
- Or you could wait until the oil turns to sludge and no longer cools, cleans, and lubricates your engine.
- You could even ignore the whole process and let the oil run out, let the engine seize up, and sit by the side of the road waiting for the wrecker.
The easy way? Check your owner’s manual, of course. Please don’t rely on a random friend’s advice since the recommended interval between changes can range from 3000 to 7000 miles or more, depending on the vehicle, its age, and your driving habits. (Driving many short trips will require a change even if you haven’t driven the usual miles.)
Can I Change My Vehicle Oil Myself?
Well, yes – at least in theory. Consider this:
• Is your vehicle still under warranty? If so, how will you prove that you’ve changed your oil as required?
• Setting your home up as an auto oil change site isn’t easy or cheap.
- First, you need to get the correct oil and filter.
- Then, you’ll need to get under your vehicle, remove the drain plug, drain the used oil, and remove the dirty oil filter.
- Next, you’ll change the drain plug gasket to prevent leaks, replace the drain plug and oil filter.
- Next, fill the engine with the correct oil. Then you get to clean up. Do you know how to do all this?
• Let’s look at the equipment you’ll need:
- A good, SAFE set of ramps or jacks and jack stands, plus a wrench to remove the drain plug.
- A different wrench to remove the oil filter.
- A container to collect and recycle the used oil.
- And possibly a torque wrench to correctly tighten the drain plug.
- Then you need to buy the correct oil, filter, and drain the plug gasket.
- Plus, you’ll need cleaning rags and cleaner, and maybe disposable gloves.
- Oh, and you need a safe, flat place to park, where the neighbors aren’t going to complain about you working on your vehicle.
• You could take your vehicle to an oil change place. This is where the trust level comes in: will they know what your car needs and exactly how to get that sticky drain plug back in the hole without cross-threading it? They might check your air filters, but are they going to spot a problem?
Getting Your Oil Change Squared Away in Ann Arbor
You’ll probably need to take your vehicle to an independent repair company with a good reputation for doing more than just oil changes. Can they tell you about an impending problem with your cooling or electrical system (or any other potential problem) while they’re changing your oil? After all, your vehicle is your tool to get around town and across the country.
At Louie and John’s Complete Auto Service, we stand behind our reputation. We want you to be glad you brought it to us, so we fix it right every single time. You put your trust in us. That’s why we employ only certified mechanics we trust 100% with our customers. After all, your car requires a little TLC now and then, and you’ve brought it to the right place.
Come by, call, or schedule an appointment online today. You’ll like what you see – because we don’t send you on your way until we like what we see under the hood.