August 30, 2019

Why Can’t You Just Add Oil to Your Car, Instead of Replacing It?



Somewhere along the way in your life, one of your parents, or an older relative or mentor has probably shown you how to check the oil in your car. Maybe they’ve taught you how to add oil as well.

You may have thought why should you go somewhere like Milex Complete Auto Care and get the oil changed when you can just add oil to the engine whenever it gets low?

It is understandable that some car owners would prefer to just add oil, rather than get it changed. It’s far cheaper to buy some oil at a store and add it to your engine, and who doesn’t want to save money?

That said, if you’re going to handle the oil part of your car yourself, you need to learn to change the oil, rather than just continually add oil to your engine. That means getting under the engine and finding the oil filter and drain plug and draining the oil, and then adding it (there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s the simple version of how to do it).

If you just add oil to your car’s engine periodically, that’s far better than letting your car run out of oil, but you’re still going to create a lot of problems if that’s all you do.

So why do we replace oil, instead of just adding it? There are a few reasons.

There’s dirt in the oil. When you first have oil put in your car, no, there is no dirt in it. But oil allows your engine’s metal parts to work in tandem with each other, and even the best engines wind up with little bits of metal shavings coming off and winding up in the oil. Other bits of debris can wind up in the oil, too, thanks to the oil filter – we’ll get to that in a moment – and so eventually, your oil can become thick and sludge-like.

You have an oil filter that needs replacing. So, again, let’s say you keep adding oil to your engine – but you never replace it. If that’s the case, you’re likely keeping the same oil filter in the engine, too. So that’s never being replaced.

Eventually, your filter becomes so dirty that it stops collecting the metal shavings, debris and anything else that it would typically keep out from getting into the engine oil.

So if your oil filter isn’t changed, your oil gets filthier. And the dirtier your oil, and the thicker and more sludge like it becomes, the less it can lubricate the metal parts of the engine that are pressing together.

Engines get hot. If your engine temperature goes too high, that’s a problem, and while you might think of your coolant as something that keeps your engine cool – and that is correct, and it’s vital to your engine’s health – oil also keeps your engine from scorching.

So back to the premise of our question – what will probably happen if you keep adding oil to your car without replacing it? At some point, your car’s oil will become incredibly thick. It won’t look honey-colored, the way it does when it goes into your car for the first time.

In fact, it will look black – so that’s a good sign that you need an oil change, if you check your oil and notice that it is extremely dark.

Your oil will be as thick as molasses, instead of looking like honey. Your oil filter at this point has probably stopped being useful. And now your engine parts aren’t lubricated well, and they’re pressing up against each other in a way that makes the engine hot.

And then anything can happen.

Your head gasket could crack, and then antifreeze could spread into the engine and damage it. Your engine’s cylinders could warp, affecting the pistons. In short, your engine could have a lot of issues, none of them good.

There are a few things to remember. One, if your car starts to overheat, and you can still drive it, pull over, turn off your air conditioner and turn on the heat and blower. That may sounds a little odd – especially if it’s a warm day – but you want to get the heat away from the engine as quickly as possible. And then, of course, get your car – maybe tow it, if you’re worried about driving it – to Milex Complete Auto Care to have it checked out.

But even better – get your oil changed regularly in the first place. You may think you are saving money in the short term, but getting your oil changed regularly, along with other routine maintenance tasks, can save you a lot of money over the long haul.

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