What is Engine Sludge?
Engine sludge is a serious problem that's responsible for the death of countless vehicles. Assuming you drive a vehicle with a combustion gas engine -- as opposed to an all-electric engine -- it will likely contain oil. Oil is responsible for lubricating the engine's internal components while simultaneously removing debris and reducing heat. Over time, however, oil can congeal. As the oil congeals, it will develop a thicker, sludge-like consistency.
Allowing engine sludge to go unnoticed can have disastrous effects on your vehicle's engine. Its thick consistency, for example, means that it won't flow easily through your vehicle's engine. Rather, it will remain stuck inside specific areas. At the same time, engine sludge doesn't offer the same lubrication properties as healthy, free-flowing oil. To prolong the life of your vehicle's engine, you need to protect it from sludge.
Get Regular Oil Changes
The simple most important thing you can do to prevent engine sludge is to get regular oil changes. In the past, most vehicles required oil changes every 3,000 miles. Modern-day vehicles, though, can often last for up to 5,000 or even 7,000 miles before needing an oil change. Regardless, you should follow your owner's manual by getting regular oil changes. Regular oil changes will ensure that your vehicle has fresh oil while discouraging the formation of sludge.
Double-Check Oil Cap
It's a good idea to double-check the oil cap. If it's loose or otherwise not fully tightened, air may leak into the oil-filled passages of your vehicle's engine. Why is this a problem exactly? Well, oil lasts longer when enclosed in a sealed environment. If air enters your vehicle's engine, it will cause the oil to break down more quickly due to oxidation, which can accelerate the formation of sludge.
Change the Engine Air Filter
Another tip to prevent engine sludge is to change the engine air filter. Not to be confused with the oil filter -- which you should replace when changing the oil -- the engine air filter is a screen that's designed to remove debris from the air that enters your vehicle's engine. If the air is dirty, debris will accumulate inside of your vehicle's engine. Some of this debris may mix with the oil to create engine sludge. You can prevent this from happening by changing the engine air filter.
Use a Sludge Remover
There are products you can purchase and use to remove engine sludge. Known as sludge removers, they consist of ingredients that are designed to dissolve sludge so that you can flush it from your vehicle's engine. You'll typically need to drain as much as the sludge as possible, after which you can pour the sludge remover into the oil cap. When finished, you'll need to flush and refill your vehicle with clean oil. The steps to using a sludge remover can vary, so always refer to the instructions when using one.