Changing your car's oil isn't optional. While you can follow your manufacturer's recommended (often extended) service interval or a shorter one, you'll still need to replace your oil eventually. Usage, contamination, and heat cycling can reduce motor oil's lubricating properties, ultimately putting your engine in danger if you wait too long to perform a change.
Although you don't have much choice when it comes to changing your oil, you do have some choices about how you want to perform that service. In particular, you'll need to choose an appropriate motor oil and filter for your car. Understanding how to make these decisions (and why they matter) may help you extend the life of your motor and reduce expensive repair costs.
Motor Oil: Getting Effective Lubrication
When selecting a motor oil, the first and most important thing you should do is consult your car's owner's manual. Most automakers offer their own oil through their dealership network, but buying this branded oil is unnecessary. Instead, check your owner's manual for your car's required oil weight and specifications. Any oil that meets these requirements will work.
Note that selecting an oil with a lower weight number is generally bad and can potentially harm your engine over the long run. These oils, while theoretically offering greater efficiency, can potentially reduce protection for your engine. Likewise, oils with higher viscosity numbers (thicker oils) may reduce efficiency and increase heat in your engine.
While it's important to stick to the weights recommended by your manufacturer, there are some situations where you may want to choose special oil blends. For example, high-mileage oils may be worth considering on older cars if you use an appropriate weight that meets all of your manufacturer's required oil specifications.
Oil Filters: Keeping It Clean
Of course, your oil isn't the only thing you change during this routine service. Your oil filter helps to catch any small particles or other contaminants that enter your oil. The filter is necessary to maintain the oil's lubricating properties for as long as possible while also protecting your engine from damage that can occur due to contamination.
While filters don't receive as much attention as oil, they're just as important. In general, you want to purchase the highest-quality filter available. You don't necessarily need to buy a genuine-branded filter from the dealership, but you should purchase a filter produced by a reputable company and designed for your vehicle. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) filters are always a good choice if in doubt.
Choosing the right oil and filter for your car are some of the simplest and most important things you can do for your vehicle. Performing your oil change with quality parts will ensure your engine remains efficient and reliable throughout many years of ownership.
Contact an auto service shop to learn more about oil changes.