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Explaining the oil circuit in a motorcar

It would be fair to say that most drivers today do not really understand how their car works. Most can grasp the concept of a combustion engine and the difference between these, fuelled by petrol, and how a diesel engine operates.

However, the least understood part of any car is the oil circuit. Fortunately, those responsible for making the best oils, such as Shell, Mobil, Q8 and Fuchs, do understand. The basics can be learned by anyone.

The oil circuit

Motor engine oil is held within the oil pan, and it is here it starts its journey, being sucked up by a pump and squirting the lubricant to where it needs to go.

This is in the engine block, from where it continues its journey to the crankshaft bearings, and then on to the camshaft bearings and all those essential moving parts that should not be scraping against each other.

Modern oil producers will have added extras too, to better optimise both the oil itself and the way it works with the engine. For example, detergents are added which, though a positive addition, do affect how quickly a car uses its oil.

That ‘blinking’ oil light

Any warning light on a car should never be dismissed – be it the fuel gauge, aircon indicator or, relevant to this article, the oil light.

If the oil light is amber, you should do something as soon as possible. You should not let the light go to red.

If it does go to red, it means the oil pressure is dangerously low and, if left, temperatures will rise, metal will grind against metal, the engine and entire power unit will consume itself and bits will eventually start coming out of the exhaust.

Your car, in a great many respects, will be ruined, so keeping the oil above the minimum level is essential.

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