Everything you want to know about life, the universe and changing your oil

Okay, so you're not going to discover the meaning of life here, but Automologist, MAC, has some sage advice for you and your car.   ...

Okay, so you're not going to discover the meaning of life here, but Automologist, MAC, has some sage advice for you and your car.  

How much do you value the engine in your car? The health of your engine depends in no small part on the quality of the oil you put into your car; it is the life blood of your engine. To an old petrol-head like me, it is evident that most motorists do not pay particular attention to their oil. After all, oil is oil, right? Well, maybe it was, back in the old days, but with the advent of high pressure, short stroke turbocharged engines, the playing field has changed. So, why should you change your oil, when should you change it and are additives worthwhile?

Oil is a fairly temperamental commodity that becomes less effective over time. One second it is slick and silky, the next thick and soupy. The constant exposure to heat, moisture and air leads to oil oxidation. The end result, if you leave the oil in your car for too long, is corrosive wear and the formation of sludge. When you buy new oil, it comes with an additives package from the factory; once these additives are depleted, the oil will no longer be able to work effectively, allowing the chemical and particulate contaminants to float around and damage your engine.

So leaving oil in your engine past the recommended oil change interval is bad; very bad, in fact. So, should you change your oil at 3000km, 5000km or 10000km intervals? It seems to be different for every manufacturer. The correct answer is: none of the above. In reality you should change your oil when it becomes too contaminated and acidic to effectively protect your engine, and this point will be determined by a number of different factors, none of which are really the number of kilometres that you have travelled.

Most trucking fleets and companies that operate generators will tell you that it is machine running hours that are more important, but of course for most of us average motorists, we cannot accurately gauge this time so we opt for distance travelled. So car manufacturers will give us a distance interval based on an algorithm that factors in such things as optimum engine temperature and average speed. This is known as normal driving conditions. Trouble is, few of us are really average; if you do mostly highway driving, then your oil will probably last longer than recommended, but if you spend your driving life in stop-start rush-hour traffic, the oil is going to deplete faster than the recommended interval.

Other factors will also preserve or deplete your oil in ways that the manufacturer cannot predict, such as excessive loads and, of course, the quality of oil you use will determine its lifespan as well as the age of your vehicle. So, when should you change the oil in your car? The simple answer is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, but take note of the style of driving that you do. If you drive a lot in traffic jams or pull a trailer of some sort, then consider an earlier change.

Another way to be sure that your oil will withstand the rigours of modern driving is to use a good quality Engine Additive such as X-1R. Originally developed for use by NASA, the X-1R Engine Treatment provides an extra layer of protection flowing through your engine, helping to reduce friction and oxidation (read also Sludge Buster!). The patented formula provides superior lubrication by bonding with your engine, significantly reducing metal-to-metal friction. By reducing the friction, you will suffer from less wear and longer oil life; and as a side benefit, you will also have significantly increased fuel efficiency. Makes sense right? The less energy lost to friction, the less fuel is consumed by your engine.

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