How long can you go without oil changes – Oil changes are a mystery to many. Despite it being mandatory for each and every car owner out there, I’m certain that not many truly understand the importance and purpose of timely oil changes. Of course, for new car buyers, it’s often less of an issue, as manufacturers nowadays make services as easy and effortless as possible for the customers. However, for cars out of warranty who often entrusts their regular preventative maintenance to outside workshops, there’s always a lingering question: how flexible are oil changes?
Before you talk about how often you should make oil changes, you should understand why oil changes are necessary. After all, engine oil is a very inert material in a pretty enclosed circuit, why does it need changing? Engine oil performs the crucial role of lubrication, micro-sealing and transferring heat in an engine, and it’s imperative that your engine oil is always up to par to perform its duty efficaciously.
The thing is that, while oil in nature is extremely enduring and often a cause of concern environmental-wise, inside an engine where it’s continuously subjected to extreme operating conditions, engine oil actually breaks down and deteriorates rather quickly. The important additives inside the oil also begin to decay over time, losing their effectiveness. Engine oil darkening is a natural process of wear and tear caused by heat and combustion byproducts, hence your engine oil starts out golden and silky, yet ends up either runny and thin or thick and sludgy. Therefore there’s always a rough interval you should follow to ensure that your engine oil is actually still engine oil.
How Long Can You Go Without Oil Changes
With that said, what most workshops follow as a guideline is that you should change your engine oil once every 3,000 miles. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and it’s not a problem if you can afford it, thanks to modern technology in terms of engine development and oil refinery, engines can last longer without such frequent oil changes.
For contemporary cars, a closer estimate would be around 5,000 to 7,000 miles. The figure varies based on what kind of traffic you manage on a daily basis, and there’s often a time factor too since your engine is still running even at idle. But here’s the thing, how far can you go over the regular interval without performing an oil change?
The thing is theoretically speaking, with modern internal combustion engines, an oil change can last for tens of thousands of miles. People have gone over 60,000 miles without an oil change. With quality fully synthetic oil, it’s possible to even see service intervals exceeding 10,000 miles. But here’s the thing, oil breaks down gradually, and they can lose their critical properties that keep your engine running fit and healthy.
Over time, overdue oil changes and continuous low-temperature cycles can even lead to what is known as sludging. Sludging is particularly nefarious towards your valvetrain, where it can seriously impact normal operation and even cause catastrophic engine failure. However, sludging is often a non-issue given that you perform regular oil changes with quality engine oil. Doing so can even de-sludge an engine.
On the other hand, overheating and worn engine oil will become thinner and runnier as time passes, eventually losing its lubricity and viscosity. Even if your oil doesn’t break down, it’s important to keep in mind that the oil filter will also contaminate over time, and if clogged to a certain extent will affect oil flow.
Therefore, it’s important that you try to keep your oil changes regular, as a preventative measure. It’s not that expensive, and even in the long run, it’s worth the trouble over a complete engine overhaul. If you truly intend to stretch your oil changes, stick to quality fully synthetic motor oil which can last longer without deteriorating.