Motor oil is critical to keeping your engine running. Without it, your engine would seize up very quickly and completely stop working. Making sure that your vehicle’s engine has clean motor oil running through it allows it to consistently run optimally and get you from point A to B. This is why regularly taking your vehicle in for an oil change is so important.
One of the easiest, fastest, and least expensive ways to take care of your car, truck, or SUV’s engine is by making routine oil change service part of your preventative maintenance routine.
In this guide, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about engine oil, including the ways it protects your engine, the different types of oil available, and when your oil should be changed.
How Motor Oil Works To Keep Your Engine Protected
The motor oil works to ensure your engine can run smoothly, safely, and efficiently. First, it does this by protecting your engine in four crucial ways:
- Lubricating engine components: The oil provides a protective layer of lubrication over the dozens of sensitive components within your engine. This reduces friction between moving parts and prevents rough metal-on-metal contact, preventing excess wear.
- Cleaning the engine: As your oil cycles through the engine, it absorbs dirt, friction deposits, and debris, rendering these things harmless until the dirty oil is removed at your next oil change service. This prevents harmful blockages from building up within your engine.
- Preventing overheating: Your engine generates a lot of heat while it is running. So, the engine’s oil helps prevent overheating by absorbing excess heat away from sensitive components and redistributing it throughout the rest of the engine.
- Preventing the accumulation of rust and corrosion: The protective layer of lubrication that the oil forms also prevents the build-up of rust and corrosion on the internal engine components.
Motor oil contains several additives/chemical compounds that improve its performance, keep your engine clean, and help maintain optimal engine performance.
Common additives found in the oil include:
- Anti-wear agents that assist in creating instant lubrication when the engine is started and minimize wear on components that are sensitive to damage
- Viscosity (thickness) index improvers that increase oil performance in extreme temperatures
- Antioxidants that prevent impurities from accumulating and building up on engine components
- Corrosion inhibitors that form a protective layer to stop rust from forming
- Foam inhibitors that stop foam and bubbles from forming in the oil
- Antifreeze that improves the fluidity of the oil in cold temperatures
But, your engine oil won’t last forever. As it circulates through the engine, absorbing heat and picking up impurities, it becomes less and less effective over time. So, not having regular oil changes done can lead to sticking pistons, clogs, overheating, and even a completely seized-up engine.
The Four Different Types Of Motor Oil
Motor oil is now available in a variety of different types. Each provides a varying level of viscosity and additives, varying levels of engine protection, and varying costs. The four main types of engine oil are:
1. Conventional Oil
Conventional motor oil is what would be considered “standard” oil. This oil is a natural, crude mineral oil that is partially refined to improve viscosity and protective properties. It can be found in a wide range of viscosity grades for all types of vehicles.
2. Full-Synthetic Oil
Full-synthetic motor oil is highly refined and has been entirely chemically engineered to make the oil molecules uniform. This means fewer impurities and better performance, compared to conventional oil. Full-synthetic oil has higher viscosity levels, stronger cleaning powers, and greater resistance to corrosion and oxidation. It is usually recommended for high-performance engines or vehicles being used for towing.
A full synthetic oil change will usually be $20 to $40 more than a conventional oil change, depending on the number of quarts of oil your vehicle requires. But, you won’t need to have an oil change done as frequently as you would with conventional oil.
3. Synthetic Blend Oil
Synthetic blend motor oil is a hybrid mix of both full synthetic and conventional base oils. This oil provides better performance and increased engine protection compared to conventional oil, but not as much as with full-synthetic oil. Synthetic blend oil is a good option if you want a little extra performance without the higher cost of a synthetic oil change.
4. High Mileage Oil
If your engine has more than 75,000 miles, it may be time to switch to a high mileage oil. This type of oil contains unique additives that are specifically designed to protect older engines, specifically ones that protect seals, reduce oil burn-off, prevent oil leaks, and reduce engine smoke.
How Do I Determine What Type of Oil is Best For My Vehicle?
As you may know, each of the different types of oil varies in viscosity and level of engine protection. If you are trying to determine the best oil for your specific vehicle, the first place to look is your vehicle’s owner’s manual. This is where the manufacturer will detail the recommended minimum oil specifications for the vehicle.
But, to pinpoint the best oil for you, you have to also consider several other factors:
- The vehicle type: Different types of vehicles require different types of oil. For example, a high-performance sports car will need a much different oil than a flatbed pick-up truck.
- Your driving habits: How, where, and how often you drive will significantly impact the performance and life expectancy of your engine’s oil. For example, if you frequently make a lot of short trips or are often in stop-and-go traffic, you may need a higher quality oil, like full synthetic oil, to prevent excess wear and tear on your engine.
- Your vehicle’s total mileage/age: Many newer vehicles call for the use of either a full synthetic or synthetic blend motor oil. Alternatively, for vehicles with 75,000 miles or more, high-mileage motor oil is suggested since it provides added engine protection and performance.
- The weather environment: Also, higher summer temperatures like we experience here in Nevada can directly impact the oil’s performance. Specifically how fast it flows and how well it can lubricate engine components. So, a different oil may be needed during the summer months.
The oil change experts here at Tire Works can help you pinpoint the best type of motor oil for your engine based on driving habits, your vehicle, etc. Schedule your oil change service appointment today and make sure your engine is properly protected!
What Happens During an Oil Change?
An oil change service involves more than just putting new, clean oil into your engine. When you bring your vehicle in for an oil change, our technicians will also be providing additional services to help keep your car or truck running optimally and safely.
During an oil change at Tire Works, we:
- Drain out your old, gunky engine oil
- Install a new oil filter
- Put in the clean, new oil
- Rotate the tires (upon request)
- Top off the vehicle’s other fluids, as needed
- Top off the tires’ air pressure, as needed
Schedule an appointment today at your closest Tire Works location to get your oil change done and keep your engine running in optimum condition.
Make sure to check out our latest oil change coupons to help make your visit even more affordable.
How Do I Check My Engine’s Oil?
It is recommended that you check your vehicle’s engine oil at least once a month (if manual oil checks are possible on your vehicle). But, if you are not familiar with exactly how to do this, here are the easy steps to follow:
- To ensure you get an accurate oil reading, park your vehicle on level ground and turn off the engine. Wait ten to 15 minutes to allow it to cool down.
- Open the vehicle’s hood and find the oil dipstick. It often has a yellow, red, or orange plastic ring or tab on the top of it. If you can’t easily locate it, refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Keep in mind, some newer cars electronically monitor oil levels and do not have a way to check the oil manually.
- Pull the dipstick out.
- Use a clean paper towel or rag to wipe the dipstick down (from the handle to the tip). When you first pull the dipstick out the reading you get on it will not be accurate because the motor oil can wick upward or splash around on the dipstick.
- Now reinsert the dipstick. Make sure to fully push the dipstick back in, wait for a second or two, and then pull it out again.
- Look at the oil level on both sides of the dipstick near the tip. The indicators on the dipstick will let you know if the oil level is low, good, or too high.
- Visually inspect the consistency and color of the oil on the dipstick. This can give you an idea of the oil’s current effectiveness. It might be time for an oil change if it is thick, black, gritty, or milky.
- Wipe off the dipstick again and reinsert it into its tube. Make sure it is inserted all the way and then close the hood.
- If while checking your oil you discover that it is low, very dark, or a strange consistency, bring your vehicle into your closest Tire Works location for an expert oil change.
What are the Benefits of Using Synthetic vs Conventional Oil?
Full-synthetic motor oil is chemically engineered and highly refined, which ensures that the oil molecules are uniform. This means fewer impurities and provides better performance compared to conventional motor oil.
Synthetic oil does have some specific advantages over conventional oil. It is designed to be more effective at:
- Lasting longer than conventional oil because it resists breakdown and loss of viscosity over time.
- Withstanding higher environmental and engine temperatures than conventional oil, keeping engines running longer.
- Flowing in cold weather temperatures, which then reduces engine wear during startups in frigid environments.
Some vehicle manufacturers specify that synthetic oil is what should be used in the engine. There are also certain engine needs, based on driving habits and environments, that make synthetic oil the best choice. In some situations, synthetic oil’s resistance to breakdown can help maximize the life of an engine:
- If you frequently make short trips, conventional motor oil may not ever get warm enough to effectively burn off impurities and moisture that can accumulate. This could speed up the breakdown of conventional oil.
- During very hot summer temperatures or freezing winter temperatures, or while using your vehicle for hauling heavy material or towing, synthetic oil protects the engine from added strain and will not break down as fast as conventional oil.
- If you have an older, high-mileage engine that is prone to the buildup of sludge. This gunk forms as the oil breaks down and it can block oil passages, quickly leading to engine death. Synthetic oil does not form this sludge as much as conventional oil can.
Even though synthetic oil will generally hold up longer, having a regular oil change service done is still very important. You should not exceed the recommended time/mileage interval if you want your engine to last as long as possible.
The downside to synthetic motor oil is that it can cost two to four times more than conventional oil. But, with fewer oil changes needed, the cost usually ends up evening out and you’re getting better oil performance.
To Maintain My Warranty, Do I Have to Have an Oil Change Done at the Dealership?
No, you can have your oil change service done at any shop. Legally, dealerships and automakers and dealerships cannot force you to have auto service done at a dealership to keep your vehicle’s warranty valid. You can still have high-quality vehicle maintenance work done outside of the dealership.
At every Tire Works location, the technicians have the highest ASE certifications in the industry and can offer the same level of service you’ll get at a dealership. We can meet or exceed your warranty requirements with expert care and help you extend the life of your vehicle. Schedule your appointment online today!
How To Know When Your Vehicle Needs An Oil Change
There are several warning signs to be aware of that can indicate that your engine may be overdue for an oil change. These include:
- When checking the oil, it is very dark, thick, and/or milky
- The oil level shows as low on your oil dipstick
- The “Low Oil”, “Check Engine”, or “Oil Change Required” light is illuminated on the dashboard
- While the engine is running there is blue exhaust smoke coming from your tailpipe
- There is unusual knocking, pinging, or ticking noises coming from the engine while it is running
- A strong burning oil odor inside the vehicle
If any of these things above are happening with your vehicle, don’t wait any longer. Come into your local Tire Works locations as soon as possible.
How Often An Oil Change Should Be Done
The recommended service interval for oil changes can vary greatly, anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer, the specific type of vehicle, and the type of oil recommended. The conditions the vehicle will be operated in also impact the recommended schedule.
The first place to look for the manufacturer-suggested schedule for your vehicle is in your owner’s manual.
As mentioned above, the frequency that oil changes will be needed is affected by the type of engine oil being used. For example, if full synthetic oil is being used, the oil change service schedule will usually be every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, which is less frequent compared to conventional oil.
However, engine oil can lose its effectiveness quicker due to certain driving habits, including:
- Frequent stop and go traffic or short trips
- High-mileage driving
- Frequently carrying heavy loads or towing
- Warmer outside temperatures (like we can experience here in Nevada)
Here at Tire Works, our ASE-certified technicians suggest that you bring your vehicle in for an oil change service every 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. This ensures your engine will always be performing optimally and that any minor issues are caught early before they become bigger, much more expensive problems.
Check out our latest oil change coupons that will help make your next service even more affordable.
Keep Your Engine In Optimal Condition With Regular Oil Changes
Our expert technicians at Tire Works can answer any questions you may have about your vehicle’s oil, as well as help you determine the type of oil and oil change schedule that’s best for your vehicle. We can also take care of any other auto repairs or maintenance services you may need.
If you’re looking for an oil change in Las Vegas and the surrounding area, come into Tire Works today. Local drivers count on our team for top-quality auto services and unmatched customer service.