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Oil change – How Often?

Oil change, something only required to be done when taking your car for a service! That is what you may think. The question is, do you know how often an oil change is required? This might sound like a senseless question. You may answer by saying: “as often as the vehicle manufacturer stipulates”. However, is it always this simple? Remember, vehicle manufacturers, want to sell you a car. These manufacturers also want the ownership prospects to be as hassle-free as possible. Therefore, they stipulate oil change intervals that would sufficiently protect the engine under normal usage in average conditions. With the latter, we refer to a moderate climate involving normal driving in a combination of city and open-road driving. Before we get to the “how often”, let us first look at the “why have an oil change” part.

Why have an oil change?

Indeed, why? Why does the oil have to be changed at all? Since the engine uses fuel and not oil, why can it not stay in the engine forever? Firstly, oil becomes contaminated by the by-products of the combustion process. Any impurities that enter the engine via the air intake also contributes to this. The oil is designed to hold all the impurities in suspension, so they don’t contribute to engine wear. This is one of the main reasons why an oil change is necessary. The oil must, therefore, be swopped for clean oil, even before it becomes saturated with impurities.

There is also a degree of fluid exchange in the engine. During this process, a small percentage of the oil is burnt off by the engine. Some combustion by-products are absorbed by the oil during this process. Therefore, after 15 000 km, it is not just oil in the oil sump anymore. A small percentage of the contents is other substances, thus reducing the lubrication properties of the oil.

Secondly, oil slowly breaks down due to heating up, cooling down, and the combustion process. This changes the composition of the molecules, making the oil less effective at lubricating the engine.

Harsh conditions accelerate oil breakdown

Harsh conditions do indeed accelerate the contamination and the breaking down of oil. Think about constant city driving where an engine never settles down at its proper operating temperature. The same may be said about very hot conditions, in very hard-driving, and in very dusty conditions. When you operate your car under these conditions, it will require more frequent oil changes. Modern synthetic oils have a better resistance against breaking down than normal mineral oils. While this is true, they still get contaminated at the same rate. It is better to replace your oil more frequently with the correct viscosity if you are in doubt. Your engine will have a longer life and in its engine way, thank you for that.

So, how often?

There are some guidelines regarding how often – in miles/km and months you should conduct an oil change. Answering the question regarding how often, may differ from vehicle to vehicle and from driving conditions to driving conditions. What is important, is not to neglect simple maintenance, such as changing the oil and oil filter. Doing this can prolong engine life and improve performance and economy. As always, the basics must be right. If you want to read more about how often you should change your car’s oil, simply click here. You may also consider optimising your engine to use as little fuel as possible and produce its maximum power. To do this, you will have to fit a Unichip to optimise the standard engine computer unit (ECU) settings. You could get a worthwhile improvement in performance and economy. With the Unichip, there is almost always room for vehicle improvement. Practice responsible car care. Become part of the Unichip family and buy your Unichip today. Click here to contact us.