Doing regular maintenance to your vehicle is very important, and it will help you keep your vehicle on the road longer and running better, but why is oil the one we have to change so often? I mean no other fluid or part of the car has to be changed every 6 months of 3 thousand miles. You add gas more often probably, but that doesn’t require a mechanic or a special waste process.
Let us think about how the engine works. Your engine has a lot of metal parts that work together to push your car forward. We should review the most important ones.
Cylinders – Most cars have 4, 6, or 8 cylinders and some random cars have 3 or 10, but what do they do? Well, the cylinder is a space inside the engine block where gas and oxygen mix and eventually combust.
Pistons – They fit inside the cylinder and are what is used to suck in the gas and air mixture into the cylinder, and then compress the oxygen and gas mixture to create an explosion. Cars have a 4-cycle process to make the engine work properly. For the 1st cycle, the piston will slide down the cylinder and suck in the gas and air mixture. The 2nd cycle is to push it back up and compress the gas and air mixture inside the cylinder. The spark plug will ignite the mixture, which pushes the piston back down making the 3rd cycle. The final and 4th cycle is when the piston moves back up to push out the combusted gasses. There are two up and two down steps to complete the entire piston combustion process, which reaches 4-cycles.
Valves – Engines require gas and oxygen to mix and then explode to push the car forward. The valves are positioned at the top of the engine above the cylinder and help control how the mixture gets into the engine, but also provides a tight seal so the pistons can compress the gas and air mixture in the cylinder. The valves move at an extremely fast pace to make sure there is always a tight seal.
Camshafts – The valves mentioned above need to be opened and closed at a very fast pace with precise timing. This is accomplished by connecting them all to a rotating camshaft. The camshaft has multiple grooves with different heights that are custom made to match the speed of the pistons. This prevents the valves from colliding with the pistons and damaging the engine
Crankshaft – This is main metal rod that runs through the center of the engine and connects everything together to push the car forward. When an explosion in the cylinder pushes the piston down, it turns the crankshaft. The crankshaft is connected to your transmission and is what connects the engine power to the rest of the car and makes the wheels turn.
Now all of these parts work together to make your car move forward, but they are also all made of metal. If you were to take two pieces of metal and rub them together at thousands of passes per minute, you would create a lot of friction. This friction will create heat and start to soften the metal, and cause it to stick together. Imagine if all of this metal was rubbing together inside your engine with no lubricant.
This is where oil comes into the equation. The oil in your engine prevents the metals from coming in direct contact, and reduces the amount of friction that have with each other. Obviously this prevention of friction is also preventing your car from seizing up and stopping. If you tried to run a car with no oil, it would only take a few seconds for the engine to seize and become locked together.
But why do we have to change the oil so much? Well, oil in your car is being exposed to extreme conditions all the time. It will eventually breakdown and get filled with gunk. Your engine is creating an explosion every 100th of a second, and this explosion leaves behind burnt gas and air particles that get trapped in the oil. Your mechanic would call this gunk or sludge. You can tell if your car has gunk when your oil is a dark black color. Trust me, it did not go in your car that color. Fresh oil is a clear gold, like a less brown maple syrup.
In conclusion, oil is the most important fluid to keep your engine working. It provides the lubrication all the metal pieces need to keep moving. If you don’t change your oil it will break down and get filled with gunk, and eventually slow your engine down. Old oil will make your car work harder and create more stress on its parts. That means things break faster, and you burn more gas, hence why you have to change your oil so often.