The old mantra “change your oil every three months or three thousand miles, whichever comes first” once applied to every vehicle on the road in Minnesota, North Dakota and beyond. After all, time and miles take their toll on your engine’s motor oil. But now, if you own a newer car or truck, you could have a different oil change recommendation for every vehicle in your garage.

Some new vehicle manufacturers are now recommending much higher oil change intervals than they have in the past – as much as 5,000 to 8,000 miles or more. This practice came under scrutiny when four of the largest new car manufacturers announced that car owners were experiencing engine damage resulting from these higher oil change intervals.

For example, their suggested standard oil drain service for particular vehicles was scheduled at around 7,500 miles. People following these recommendations were experiencing damage due to a buildup of oil sludge in their engines. This caused small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail.

What Causes Oil Sludge?

It’s a factor of time and mileage. There are hot spots in every engine that cause oil burn off, which leads to sludge. Also, water from normal condensation can build up in the oil, creating sludge. Severe driving conditions lead to more rapid sludge formation, and in this case, our service advisors at Kennedy Transmission Brake & Auto Service suggest that a severe service schedule should be considered.

Severe driving includes:

  • Short trips under four miles or trips under ten miles in freezing conditions
  • Stop-and-go driving
  • Towing heavy loads
  • Driving in dusty or polluted conditions
  • Driving in extreme temperatures

The severe service schedule has much shorter oil change intervals to compensate for the extra wear on your engine. You should honestly evaluate how you drive to determine if you should change your oil closer to the severe service schedule or the standard schedule.

You Can’t Always Trust Your Warning Light

Some newer models of cars or trucks will give drivers oil change reminders. But it’s important to know how that reminder is determined. For some, the reminder simply comes when the standard mileage interval has rolled around. Others use a computer algorithm that takes into consideration the number of cold starts, trip length, engine temperature, and so on. In this case, the vehicle’s computer is programmed to approximate where on the standard or severe service spectrum you fall. Some more expensive vehicles actually have sensors that test the cleanliness and effectiveness of the oil.

However, most motorists have one thing in common: They have a tendency to follow the oil change schedule of the vehicle with the longest interval, which can lead to problems. Talk with your service advisor at Kennedy Transmission Brake & Auto Service to find out what type of oil the factory sends out in your vehicle. Sometimes it’s a premium grade that costs more than standard oil – but it may be what’s needed to meet a higher factory recommended interval.

Conventional vs. Synthetic Oil

When you get an oil change, it’s always a safe bet to use the type of oil the automobile manufacturer recommends. But sometimes you’re given the option to use conventional or synthetic motor oil. One glance at the price tags for the two options and most people will choose the cheaper one. However, in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain in the long run.

Conventional oil is made from petroleum, and its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides some vital advantages over conventional motor oil:

  • The molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil, so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more engine power and increased fuel efficiency.
  • Synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving and extreme temperatures.
  • Synthetic oil doesn’t generate harmful oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your car or truck engine.

In most cases, if you are using conventional oil in your vehicle and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can meet with your kind and professional Kennedy Transmission service professional to talk about your driving habits, and they can offer you good advice about oils and service intervals based on those habits and your vehicle’s requirements.

Let Kennedy Help You Keep Your Engine Running Smoothly

Oil changes are the hallmark of vital preventive maintenance at Kennedy Transmission Brake & Auto Service. All drivers in Minnesota and North Dakota need them, so it makes sense to use a product that reduces how often we need them, right? Synthetic oil is more expensive, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil.

And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel efficiency, not to mention increased engine power, there’s a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves you money in the long run. All Minnesota car owners pay for car care. But understanding what we’re paying for can make us more savvy shoppers. Contact us today to schedule your next oil change service with Kennedy Transmission.

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