When to change your engine’s oil is not an easy question to answer but here is some advice we offer all our customers. Firstly – the answer to this question used to be simpler but is more complicated with recent vehicles that include Intelligent Oil Life Monitors (IOLM). The ILOM is the system in your vehicle that monitors your driving and indicates when you should change your oil. This feature is one that most car and truck owners rely on but even manufacturers agree that is not 100% accurate and sometimes suggest that you change your oil before the monitoring system tells you to. Here is an interesting article from the Globe and Mail answering a readers question about what to listen to; their vehicles IOLM; or their dealer’s advice? Should I Follow My Cars Service Schedule Or Listen To The Dealer?
The IOLM is designed to monitor your driving habits and estimate when the oil needs to be changed. It doesn’t actually monitor the oil as it goes through your engine for quality, life, viscosity and cleanliness. Instead it monitors for oil temperature as you drive and estimates when the oil should be changed.
Engine oil temperature changes based on how you are driving. For instance – if you pull a trailer you engine oil increases, through normal driving it usually stays at an optimum temperature. If you drive short jaunts it sometimes doesn’t have time to warm-up and this tends to fool the computer. Living where we do present an additional challenge because we have winter. In the winter we start our cars in lower temperatures and when driving short distances our engine may not fully warm up.
Remember the car you drive is the same car that people drive in Arizona, Florida and Texas. Systems are designed to function in the medium range not in the extremes. It is possible for our temperatures to range from -40C in January to +40C in summer. This means our vehicles rarely are in the optimum range of 18C – 24C. Our engine has the stress of cold starts in winter and the heat stress of stop and go driving on highways in the summer. Ever try to get to the cottage on July first weekend or driving to and from work on a hot sticky day? Sitting on a highway in traffic idling at 30C isn’t easy on your engine oil. So technology is really a guideline.
The uncertainty as to when to change your oil is also compounded because your owners manually may indicate one thing and your IOLM another. For instance your owners manual might say change the oil every 8,000 km. and the IOLM guideline can go double that. It is often that customers are confused and ask us for our recommendation. Our recommendation is always to follow the manual and to change your oil regularly. Doing this is a consistent guide to work with and lets you plan your oil changes. Changing your oil more often is a good thing. What it results in is less wear and tear on your engine, less dirt and guck building up and less abrasion from dirt and broken down oil. As a service centre the skeptic might say that it is in our interest to generate more business by changing the oil more frequently. As the article indicates oil changes are lost leader for most service centres. There is little to no margin on oil changes. What this does do is keep customers happy by reducing future repair costs.
Todays engines are highly engineered and if you take good care of them you will definitely spend less on major repairs. Engines today are capable of lasting much longer than engines of 15-30 years ago. At Precise Car Service we always have our customers interest in mind. We want happy satisfied customers. Its been that way since we started more than 30 years ago and is one of the keys to our longevity. Customers come first.