Why Oil is Necessary in Cars and Trucks

Why Oil is Necessary in Cars and Trucks

2nd Oct 2015

Drivers who fail to change their oil on a regular basis place their engine at risk for damage. Whether you own a car, truck, SUV, van, or any other full-sized automobile, you must remove the old oil and add new oil every so often to keep your vehicle running in optimal condition. But what exactly does oil do? And how often should you change it?

The 3 Functions of Engine Oil

Automotive engine oil has three primary functions, all of which are important for keeping the vehicle running properly. First, oil acts as a lubricant, allowing the components to glide seamless together as the engine turn. Without oil, there's greater resistance between the engine's gear, which could lead to wear and tear later down the road.

Second oil works to draw heat away from the engine. A typical car engine can reach temperatures of 212°F or warmer due to the countless number of controlled explosions occurring within. This heat may lead to degradation of the engine and its respective components if it not properly managed. Thankfully, oil works to wick heat away from the engine's combustion chamber, regulating its temperature to prevent heat-related damage.

A third function of engine oil it to prevent carbon from accumulating inside the engine. Without oil, carbon-based dust and varnish will build up inside the engine, restricting its normal operations. Oil captures these elements, however, keeping them away from the engine. When you have your oil changed, these elements are flushed from the engine.

Related Reading: Understanding Motor Oil Viscosity

How Often Do I Need to Change the Oil?

If you asked ten different automotive experts, you would probably get ten different answers. Many body shops and oil changing facilities place a sticker on customers' cars, indicating the mileage at which the next oil change is recommended. Because it's in the best interest of the body shop to have customers buy oil changes more frequently, however, this mileage number is often below the actual amount.

So, how often should you change your oil? It really depends on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as the type of the oil. With that said, the folks at recommend drivers changer their oil at 5,000 to 10,000-mile intervals. Refer to your vehicle's owner's manual for more information on when oil changes are required and what type of oil should be used.

Related Reading: Oil Filters Explained