The Cost of an Oil Change Done Wrong

At Quanz Auto Body, we like to think that the importance of getting regular oil changes is common sense. Old oil that has accumulated contaminants does not provide the same quality of lubrication, increasing friction and heat that can damage your engine. But equally important as the regularity of oil changes is the quality of the oil change job. Doing a basic oil change wrong can have some nasty consequences.

Too Much Oil

A little too much oil may not be a noticeable problem. However, if you’re talking more than one quart above the recommended amount, you may be headed towards engine performance trouble. Here’s what happens:

When there’s more oil than the engine was designed to hold, the excess has to go somewhere…and that may be in the combustion chamber. Oil will burn, but it does not produce power the way gasoline does. Consequently, you will likely see a drop in engine performance and MPGs.

Excess oil may also be whipped up by the crankshaft (similar to the way an electric mixer froths beaten eggs), which introduces air bubbles into the system. Air is not a lubricant, and that means the metal components of the engine are likely to experience more friction…and friction is bad for engine performance and health.

Too Little Oil

As in the case with too much oil, a little too little oil may not be a detectable problem. But over time too little oil will contribute to engine wear, plain and simple. Oil is designed to lubricate moving parts to reduce friction and heat. The amount of oil in your engine is also intended to allow sufficient oil to be pumped through the system while heated oil drained from the engine cools in the pan. Too little oil means that oil cannot cool; hot oil is continually pumped through your engine. Heat breaks down oil, compromising its lubrication capability and leading to the solidification of carbon (the main element in oil) that deposits around internal engine parts and further increases friction and heat and reduces fuel efficiency.

If your car runs on too little oil for too long, you can damage the engine to the point of no return.

The Wrong Oil

Using the wrong oil for your engine can mimic the effects of too much oil or too little oil. When you are likely to experience engine problems depends on which rating—the one for cold engine performance (the number before “W”) or hot engine performance—is “off.”

Too high a winter (W) viscosity may mean that your car just won’t start. If the oil is too thick to circulate and lubricate a cold engine, the engine won’t turn over. Too high a viscosity rating for a hot engine (the second number of the oil type) is likely to result in overheated oil, which, in turn, contributes to overheating in your engine, and that leads to expensive engine damage.

Avoid the Cost of Engine Damage

It’s easy to avoid expensive engine repairs or replacement that can result from too much, too little or the wrong oil.

  1. Consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended oil type if you need to add oil.
  2. Change your oil at manufacturer-recommended intervals (anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 miles…consult your manual).
  3. Entrust your oil changes to certified professionals at Quanz Auto Body.

It really is just that simple!