Check Engine

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A man teaches his son how to check the oil in a car

Is an Oil Change Really That Important?

Quick answer: Yes, yes it really is. Long answer: Yes it is and let’s have a little talk about why it is so important. Getting the oil changed in your vehicle is one of those maintenance things that a lot of people wish they didn’t have to worry about. I get that – maintenance isn’t particularly fun – whether you’re talking about getting a cheap oil change for your car or trimming your fingernails, but it’s important.

One of the biggest reasons to ensure proper, routine maintenance on your vehicle is that it keeps it running smoother and makes driving a more enjoyable experience. If you’re looking for reasons more rooted in cold, hard cash, well there are several, actually. For one thing, proper maintenance can help you avoid serious issues that can be incredibly expensive to repair later on. Keeping up with the maintenance of your vehicle also maintains its value, which will certainly be important in the long run if you plan on trading in your car or selling it used to someone else.

What is an Oil Change?

So, before we start discussing the importance of getting an oil change, let’s go over what, exactly, it is. Basically, there is motor oil in your engine that helps keep things running smoothly. An internal combustion engine is a hot place with a lot of moving metal parts rubbing against each other. All of that heat and friction leads to wear and tear on the parts of your engine, which causes it to break down over time.

The oil in your vehicle, however, coats those moving parts and keeps them well lubricated as they rub against each other. This reduces friction, which means less heat, so the parts can keep running longer without wearing each other down or being damaged by heat buildup. When you get a cheap oil change, the oil currently in your engine is drained away, and new oil is poured in to replace it.

Why Does the Oil Need to be Changed?

If you’re like me, you probably wonder why, in the world of the future we live in with tiny computers in our pockets and self-driving cars on the horizon, we still need to change the oil in our vehicles. After all, hasn’t oil been improved in terms of design? Shouldn’t it last longer than it did for our parents and keep our cars and trucks running smoothly for generations to come?

Well, yes, oil has been improved upon, and there are scientists working for automotive oil companies who work tirelessly on making it even better. Modern motor oil is much better than it used to be and can keep an engine running smoothly for a very long time. That is why the old standard of getting an oil change every 3,000 miles is no longer true – many modern engines can keep going much longer without the need for a cheap oil change. But even though it’s better than it ever was in the past, the oil still gets mucked up by deposits from the parts it coats, and those impurities make it less effective than it initially is – so you need to change the oil to drain all that stuff out of your car.

Benefits in Terms of Performance

One of the biggest reasons to get an oil change based on the timetable provided by the manufacturer of your vehicle is to keep it running smoothly. As I said, the oil in your car coats and lubricates moving parts – so clean oil keeps those parts moving perfectly. If you neglect getting your oil changed when you should, then that buildup can make your engine stop working as well as it should. This can result in a less enjoyable ride and driving experience for yourself and everyone else in your vehicle.

Getting the occasional cheap oil change, as needed, also helps keep your gas mileage down while you drive your vehicle over the years. To be honest, the impact your oil has on your gas mileage is very small – but that amount adds up over time. The more you drive your vehicle, the bigger a difference this can make, not just on your pocketbook but also on the environment.

Hands checking the oil in a car

Cost Benefits for Your Vehicle

But what if you don’t care about the performance of your vehicle or the environmental impact of your gas mileage while you cruise around town? If that’s the case, perhaps you’ll want to think about how a cheap oil change can save you a lot of money. The consequences of not getting an oil change for your car, truck, or SUV can be disastrous – downright catastrophic for your vehicle actually.

As oil breaks down through use and turns to sludge, and particulates build up in the oil, it becomes less effective. Without the oil to keep things well lubricated, heat is more likely to build up in your engine, and the parts that move can start to subtly damage each other. You might not realize it’s happening at first – in fact; you’ll probably not even realize a problem is beginning to happen. But you’ll realize it when your engine seizes up or is otherwise seriously damaged. At that moment, you’re going to spend a lot more on a new engine than any number of oil changes ever would have cost you.

Long-Term Benefits

If you have any designs on the long-term value of your vehicle, then getting a cheap oil change at the proper time is also very important. As I said, routine oil changes keep your engine and vehicle overall running smoothly. That will make a difference when you go to trade-in or resell your vehicle, either at a shop or to another driver. Any professional mechanic who listens to an engine that has been damaged by a lack of fresh oil is going to hear it.

That means you won’t be able to trade in your vehicle for as much as you want. A savvy buyer will insist on an inspection from a mechanic and also be aware of the strain and damage you have caused to the vehicle due to negligence. A routine oil change has a major impact on the overall health of a vehicle, both now and in the future.

How Much Should I Spend on an Oil Change?

Here’s the good news: a cheap oil change is typically just as good as a fancy, expensive one. The process of changing the oil in a car is so simple that a lot of vehicle owners actually change the oil themselves. Of course, if you’re not quite that mechanically savvy, that’s fine, there are a lot of locations you can take your car to for a cheap oil change. The dealership where you bought your car will also probably provide you with an oil change, and routine oil changes may be included as part of certain promotions or the stipulations of a lease.

While you have a mechanic changing your oil, you can also ask about other routine maintenance. Professionals will typically lift your car up to more easily change the oil, so consider asking about getting your tires rotated and your wheels realigned while they’re at it. Getting these kinds of routine maintenance done at the same time keeps you from repeat visits and ensures your vehicle keeps running smoothly.