Did you know that having an oil change done regularly is a critical task in keeping your engine running smoothly?

Oil is so important that it has sometimes been referred to as the “life blood” of your vehicle’s engine.  Because oil is so vital to your vehicle’s health and longevity, you should have a basic understanding of its role.  In this article, we answer some common questions about oil and how to maintain it with regular oil changes so your engine can operate efficiently and effectively.

Q. What is the purpose of oil?

A. Oil serves three main purposes for your engine:

  • It helps your engine stay at a normal temperature by insulating the engine parts during operation.
  • It keeps the moving parts in your engine
  • It keeps your engine clean of buildup that may occur with use, such as sludge and dirt.

Without oil in your engine, it would cease at some point as the parts begin to grind and rub, ultimately causing engine failure.

Q. How often should you check your oil level?

A. It never hurts to be proactive when it comes to checking the oil level in your engine.  Back in the day when there were full-service gas stations, an oil check was not uncommon every time that you filled up with fuel. Today, checking your oil at least once a month is more reasonable, as well as when you plan long road trips. It’s okay to check oil when the engine has been running and is still warm. Learn how to check your engine oil and always keep a rag or paper towels in the vehicle so you can easily check the dip stick when you are out on the road, if necessary.

Q. How often should you get an oil change?

A. Oil is a substance that can break down over time.  If you have ever checked your own oil, you probably noticed that the longer it goes unreplaced, the dirtier it gets.  This is because oil picks up dirt and sludge as it moves through your engine parts.

For many auto professionals, a standard timeframe for changing oil has always been about 3,000 miles between changes.  With the introduction of newer, synthetic oils, the new standard is now about every 5,000 – 7,500 miles.

Whether you change your oil yourself, or have it done by a service professional, make sure to always replace your oil filter as well. If you are in doubt on how often the oil should be changes, the automotive technicians at Campus Repair are more than happy to provide you with guidance.

Q. What grade of oil should you use for your vehicle?

A. Choosing the right oil for your vehicle’s engine can feel like a daunting task but it really is not that complicated.  Oil is designated by grade and type.

One consideration in choosing the right grade oil an oil change is related to its viscosity.  Oil viscosity is all about the thickness of the oil.  Why is this important?  In colder temperatures, oil must be thicker (i.e. lower viscosity) in order to ensure it can move easily through the engine parts.  A higher viscosity oil functions more effectively in warmer temperatures, giving your engine’s parts the necessary thickness and insulation from hot temperatures.

When you look at the label on motor oil, you may notice a series of numbers and letters.  These numbers and letters are the SAE rating for that specific oil.

Example:  10W 30 Motor Oil – This means that the oil has a viscosity rating of 10 in Winter and the 30 represents the viscosity rating for an engine at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Always consult with your vehicle’s owner’s manual for recommendations on the right grade of oil.

Q. What type of oil should you use for your vehicle?

A. Technology advances have given us a variety of motor oils to choose from for our vehicles.  More and more consumers are using synthetic oil over the conventional oil that has been around for years.  There are even semi-synthetic oils that offer a hybrid version of the two oil types.

The key differences between synthetic or conventional are cost and efficacy.  While synthetic oils may cost more, they can last longer in your vehicle between changes.  Conventional oils are lower cost but require more frequent changes.  Choosing between the types of oil available comes down to your budget.

For more answers to questions about your vehicle’s oil, consult with your auto service specialist at Campus Repair in Ft. Collins, Colorado.  We are more than happy to answer your questions and can complete regular vehicle maintenance for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a full oil service.