What Happens When You Don't Change Your Oil?

For most people, oil changes are a hassle. You need to drive your car down to the dealership or the local quick lube, pay some money out of pocket, and ultimately sit around waiting for your oil to be changed. Often, there won't even be any noticeable change in how your car drives once you're done. It's easy to wonder whether it's really worth the trouble and whether it is safe to put off that oil change for just a little bit longer. After all, what's the worst that can happen if you leave dirty oil in your engine for a few extra months? While the truth is that nothing is likely to happen if you do this once or twice, the consequences for deferring maintenance like this in the long term can be dire.

Your Oil Is Your Engine's Lifeblood

The internal parts of your engine are under a huge amount of stress and heat any time your vehicle is running. Your engine oil provides the necessary lubrication that prevents these parts from wearing down. As your engine oil ages, it becomes dirty and slowly loses its ability to lubricate as effectively. This leads to increased friction, increased heat, and ultimately increased wear on internal engine parts that are incredibly expensive to replace.

Why Does Oil Degrade Over Time?

Even if your engine is in good shape, tiny bits of metal and other particulate matter will still make their way into the engine. The purpose of your engine oil filter is to keep this particular matter away from your engine, but your filter can only remain effective for so long. Like a dirty air conditioning filter, a dirty oil filter restricts oil flow and has a reduced ability to continue to filter out particulate matter. This leads to your old oil becoming even dirtier. This matter in your engine oil is what ultimately causes its lubricating properties to degrade.

Why You Shouldn't Wait to Change Your Oil

The longer your oil stays in your car, the more metal it will pick up. Some of this will be caught by your filter, but eventually your filter will be overwhelmed. The more poorly your oil lubricates, the more friction is created and the greater the wear on your engine is. This wear actually leads to even more tiny particles of metal being created, increasing the speed that your engine oil is degrading it. This means that the longer you wait to change your oil, the more the wear process will be accelerated. This will not necessarily cause immediate damage to your engine, but over time it can reduce its efficiency and lead to major issues in the future.

Take Matters into Your Own Hands

Many manufacturers have begun to recommend extended oil change intervals, but enthusiasts often decry this as a mistake. If you are concerned about changing your oil too infrequently but don't want to waste money on unnecessary oil changes, consider having your oil sent off for an oil analysis. These tests are relatively inexpensive, and they can tell you a great deal about the state of your engine and engine oil. If you do this while following the manufacturer-recommended oil change guidelines, you may find that a large amount of metal has been accumulating in your oil. If this is the case, it is likely time to start having your oil changed more frequently.

For more information, call an oil change service today.