Engine Oil Maintenance

22 06 2017

New synthetic engine oils may not break down as quickly but they get just as dirty as conventional oils. Many new vehicles now require expensive synthetic oils and the manufacturers are recommending oil change intervals at or over 7,500 miles. In our experience, this is not a wise practice.

This is a modern engine that requires synthetic fluid and has had its oil replaced every 7,500 miles. The engine was operational for less than 65,000 miles. As you can see it has a lot of sludge and sediment deposits built up throughout the oil passages in the timing case. These deposits are restricting oil flow to all the moving components in the timing chain assemblies. These deposits are also inhibiting the movement of the timing chain tensioners which keep the chains in place. These malfunctions have led to the demise of this engine. If the oil had been changed more frequently this could have been prevented.

The sludge and sediments are byproducts of the combustion process, burning oil, moisture build up and normal engine wear. For now, there is no way to avoid these byproducts so for the time being the only way to prevent them from becoming an issue is to change your engine’s oil.

The above photo shows what your engine oil looks like after every 1,000 miles of normal use. The oil starts getting discolored after 3,000 miles but we don’t see any suspended particles in the fluid. While the discoloration isn’t optimal it is not yet dangerous. In the 6,000-mile vial, we can see that the oil is brown due to suspended particles in the fluid. This is when the deposits form and start to cause issues.

While synthetic oils perform better, they get just as dirty as conventional oils over a given period of time. It is important to change your engine oil between 3,000 and 5,000 miles to keep your engine oil passages as clean as possible and protect your investment.

The most common problem we see with vehicles that come into the shop is low engine oil. Low engine oil can cause lack of lubrication to vital moving parts which can lead to high repair costs. GM has stated that it is not uncommon to burn one quart of engine oil for every 1,000 miles of operation. Most engines require around five quarts of engine oil for normal operations. This means by 3,000 miles your engine has lost over half its capacity which can cause some serious damage. It is very important to regularly check your engine oil level. Your owner’s manual recommends checking every time you fill up with gas and we believe this is a good rule.

 

 

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