What Happens to Your Car When You Don’t Change Your Oil

What Happens to Your Car When You Don’t Change Your Oil

The purpose of motor oil is to reduce friction, the rubbing or grinding force between two surfaces, as the engine works. Pistons in a car’s engine move up and down rapidly, and in doing so, risk producing significant friction with other engine parts. Motor oil limits this friction by lubricating the engine, coating important parts in a viscous liquid to allow for smooth operation. This lubrication isn’t indefinite, though. Over time, the vital components in oil break down, destining you for a visit to the mechanic soon for an oil change. Here’s what happens to your car when you don’t change your oil and drive on like there isn’t a problem.

Engine Performance Suffers

There are many additives in your oil that allow it to effectively lubricate your engine for as long as possible, including but not limited to the following:

  • Antioxidants
  • Detergents
  • Dispersants
  • Rust and corrosion inhibitors
  • Viscosity modifiers
  • Anti-wear additives
  • Defoamants

These additives do many different jobs. Antioxidants keep motor oil from oxidizing, which is a primary mechanism for its degradation. Meanwhile, detergents prevent oil from building up and blocking the engine. In general, these additives, meant to lengthen oil life, become less effective themselves. Also, dirt and other foreign substances bypass a clogged oil filter at a certain point and further reduce oil’s lubrication. As a result, oil becomes thicker and doesn’t evenly protect each section of the engine as it should.

Your engine has to work harder to push this sludge-like oil, meaning that your car’s overall performance suffers. As you drive with degraded oil, you’ll spend more on gasoline, which your car consumes at a higher rate because your engine must work harder.

Your Engine Wears Out Quickly

Not only does your performance suffer when you don’t change your oil, but your engine wears out quicker with old oil. As oil additives deteriorate and the oil fills with impurities, oil’s inability to evenly lubricate the engine ups the overall friction your engine experiences. As friction increases, your engine parts’ life shortens. This can end up costing you much more money than an oil change would have cost.

Your Engine Will Eventually Fail

If you drive your car with old oil for long enough, you risk a complete engine failure. Friction produces heat, and when the oil doesn’t limit your engine’s friction appropriately, the entire system can overheat. This prevents you from using your car but could also cause a major gasket blowout. These are costly repairs, but they could be even more costly should a blown gasket damage surrounding engine parts.

Keeping Your Engine Healthy

As a general guide, you should have your motor oil replaced every 5,000 to 6,000 miles to prevent these engine issues. Defer to your manufacturer-recommended mileage when deciding when to replace it. No matter if your change oil light just came on or it seems like a permanent feature of your car, if you need an oil change in Libertyville, IL, contact Auto Lab. We have a compassionate, knowledgeable staff who strives to treat every customer like they’re our first.

Posted in Auto Repair.