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Why does engine oil require regular changes?

While engine oils from world-class manufacturers like Mobil and Fuchs are specially designed to endure, regardless of quality, all lubricants will lose their potency over time. To ensure it always delivers premium levels of protection for the engine it serves, an oil must be changed periodically, and in the following sections, we’ll explore why.

Any finished lubricant you buy for your engine will be formulated on the firm foundation of a base oil. Over an extended period of time, this oil will lose its effectiveness because of certain factors. Read on to investigate these areas of concern that demand you keep the oil in your engine regularly refreshed.

Base oil oxidation

Oxidation describes the chemical reaction when engine oil molecules and oxygen molecules interact and break down chemically. In the same way that metal can rust and a sliced apple will turn brown when exposed to oxygen, an engine oil’s base oil will be broken down, reducing the effectiveness of the lubricant. This process can lead to the formation of detrimental deposits of sludge, which can cause harm to an engine’s innerworkings and lead to oil becoming more viscous, negatively impacting energy efficiency levels.

Intense heat levels

High heat is another factor that affects engine oil. Modern engines run far hotter than models ever have done before, often enduring extreme temperatures reaching 113°C, and even more when they are required to tow or haul. For every 10°C increment of temperature, the oxidation rate of oil will double, breaking it down faster.

Moisture

Even when stationary and indoors, your vehicle will be subjected to changes in temperature, leading to condensation developing within your engine, and, ultimately, water contamination. When a vehicle or a piece of industrial equipment is not used for lengthy periods of time or it only sees service in short bursts, its engine is not given the chance to warm up entirely. This means that unwanted water doesn’t get a chance to evaporate, but instead lingers on in the oil, creating harmful sludge deposits.

Loss of viscosity

Finally, it’s important to remember that viscosity is key for engine oil. The lower its viscosity, the faster it can flow like water, while thicker engine oils with high viscosity will flow far slower, operating more like honey or treacle.

Viscosity will have a powerful impact on wear protection, so engines are designed to work best utilising engine oils with a specific viscosity. Engine oils are subjected to extreme pressures as they are forced between a multitude of moving components, such as cylinder walls and pistons, leading them to tear and shear their molecular structure, breaking them down and leading to a loss of viscosity. As the viscosity get higher, your oil is effectively changing from the best type of product for your engine to one that is incredibly unsuitable, and this can compromise any wear protection provided.

Combatting these negative effects is not difficult – simply keep changing your oil at routine intervals with a fresh supply of the engine lubricant recommended by your manufacturer.

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