Everyone knows that an oil change is essential to the continued performance and functionality of a vehicle. Over the years, quite a few myths have been tossed around regarding the process and various characteristics that require correction. Below you will find some of the most common myths and facts regarding this simple maintenance project.
Myth 1 - Maintenance Must Be Performed Every 3000 Miles
Fact - Lighter Oils Can Contribute To The Extension Of The Oil Change Period
Long ago, before oils were filled with emollients, detergents and various other additives, the 3000 mile maintenance mark was an extremely useful guide. These days, oils are lighter and are able to retain their viscosity, thus keeping engines cleaner for longer periods of time. It's no longer an issue for most vehicles to go 5,000 or 6,000 miles between maintenance checks, although vehicles which use the fluid as a lubricant for additional components, including the gear timing chain must still keep to the 3,000 mile mark.
Myth - Darker Colors Equal Dirty & Unsafe
Fact - Darkening Is Normal and Generally Occurs As Soon As A Week After Changing
The darkness of your fluid does not necessarily mean that you're due for a change. You can seek a detailed analysis of the fluid in order to tell you more about the contamination percentage and composition, however the process is costly and usually quite unnecessary. Following the recommended guide regarding maintenance as outlined by your vehicle manufacturer is always the safest way to go, and will help you keep your engine clean and free from damage.
Myth - It Is Best To Undergo Maintenance On The Same Schedule That You Drive
Fact - Maintenance Is Dictated By Gasoline Composition
In North America, refiners produce a grade of gasoline which has a higher percentage of sulfur than both European or Japanese types. Thus, you may be required to undergo maintenance more often when driving in the US than in parts of Asia and Europe.
Myth - Maintenance Should Be Done At The Change Of The Seasons
Fact - 5W30 Should Be Used Year Round. 10W30 Is For Use In Warmer Climates
In most instances, you'll be safe using 5W30 throughout the year, even in locations weather the climate is very cold.
Myth - Synthetic Brands Can Prevent Sludge Buildup
Fact - No Type Of Oil Can Prevent Sludge
Sludge is formed as a natural result of the engine's combustion process. Fresh fluids are able to pick up most of the particles that are formed by burning gas throughout the cylinders of the engine. Over time, the fluids will become saturated and will no longer be able to retain particles in suspension, thus allowing them to drop onto various parts of the engine, resulting in sludge. While synthetic brands have been shown to hold onto these contaminates for a longer period of time, they have not been shown to prevent it completely.
Hopefully this little article has provided you with a little insight into the facts and myths regarding oil changes. For more information, the best resource is always a reliable and trustworthy mechanic who has experience and knowledge regarding the topic.