Advice: The good oil on oil
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The Terminator movie franchise deals with a world where machines evolve sufficiently to take over.
If fiction was ever to become fact, the machines would probably wreak their most horrible revenge on car owners who neglected to change their engine oil, air/oil filters, fluids and the like at the prescribed service intervals…
Okay, the concept may seem far-fetched sci-fi but there’s a legitimate point here.
Consider how much the modern car engines gives, while asking so very little in return. Your car’s engine is the pinnacle of more than 100 years of technical refinement, trial and error and advances in mechanical design.
But all that improved performance, reliability and built-in wear-resistance can soon be destroyed by, for example, an owner running his-or-her engine with dirty oil, or clogged filters.
Many a mechanic winces at the carelessness of those who put vehicles to work each day without giving anything back – without realising that the amazing level of convenience your car provides carries with it some level of responsibility.
Owners must familiarise themselves with the basic maintenance schedule of the car they drive, then follow through. This is really the difference between giving “a willing horse” feed and a blanket at the end of the day, versus starving it to death.
And, of course, “starving” an engine of oil should be unthinkable.
Owners should check the engine oil at least once a month and preferably more often. If the engine is burning oil or losing it through a slow leak, you want to know this ASAP so you can address the issue promptly.
If your oil level is low, you’ll want to top it up on the spot, so it’s a good idea to have a bottle of oil ready and waiting. There are lots of different grades (types) of oil, though, so make sure you get the right sort. You can usually find this in your user manual.
But don’t just get into the habit of topping up. Not changing your oil over a long period of time can turn it acidic, leaving it to eat away at the surface components within your engine.
As the oil degenerates, it becomes thicker and darker due to the oil molecules merging together. As a result of the oxidation, acid begins to form – increasing the risk of component surfaces inside the engine being eaten away.
So changing your oil instead of just topping it up is vital. By draining old oil you remove impurities before any damage is caused and guard against engine parts becoming prematurely worn out.
So how often should you change your oil?
Well, the AA says that the oil and filter should be changed every 12 months (or 10,000km-15,000km), depending on the quality of oil and filter. Hard use of the vehicle might mean more frequent servicing, of course.
Newer engines and high-quality oil may allow you to drive further between changes. Check your owner’s manual or consult a mechanic on the best option for your needs.
Remember oil filters are relatively inexpensive so never let misguided cost-saving delay a necessary filter change.
You can ask a licensed mechanic to change both your oil and filter at the same time. If you want to change your own, be sure to purchase the correct filter for your engine and follow the filter manufacturer’s instructions.
For most cars, the air filter replacement can be every 30,000km or more regularly, depending on the driving conditions. If you regularly drive on unpaved roads, it should be changed more often.
If you don't drive a lot, the filter should be replaced at least every three years, as with age it becomes brittle. The maintenance schedule will also tell you how often to change the filter which keeps air the air in the passenger cabin clean.
So don’t neglect this filter, especially if you have somebody in the family with asthma or some other type of respiratory condition.