What happens if you don't change your oil?

Posted by Eliott Fitch on Apr 3, 2014 4:23:00 PM


Changing your oil is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your car running cleaner, for longer. It is also probably the most procrastinated activity in vehicle maintenance. So, what happens to your car when you push it past the limit?  What happens if you don't change your oil?

For the most part, putting off an oil change isn’t a very big deal. For a couple hundred miles or so, your car might experience slightly more wear, but the physical integrity of the engine won’t be threatened.

  • Dirt will begin to accumulate in the oil. Luckily, your oil filter will continue to remove the dirt (which is why when you get an oil change you change your filter too). After a long enough time, however, the oil will begin to thicken substantially and that is where problems begin to arise.
  • Additives in the oil that reduce friction and fight rust will also begin to break down during this period. This will make it more difficult for the oil to lubricate as well as it should adding to the wear your engine regularly experiences.
  • Over a long enough time period, the friction between the pistons and cylinders, as well as other moving parts within the engine, will begin to generate so much heat, that the pieces of metal physically weld together. At this point your engine will seize up and you won’t be able to go anywhere for a while, not to mention the fact that you may be paying for repairs costing thousands more than that simple oil change you put off.

Overall, though you can put it off for a bit, it is always best to change your oil consistently. Spring for the more expensive synthetic oils if you really want to reduce the overall wear on your engine, as some of these brands can be pushed to nearly 10,000 miles between changes (though they are usually at least double the cost, and we never recommend going that long between changes any way).

For all of the vehicles under our care, Fleet Services will send reminders to drivers when they are nearing their threshold for the next oil change. Keeping your vehicles in the best shape possible is essential to maintaining an efficient and effective fleet.

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Topics: Maintenance Tips

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