TIME FOR A CHECK UP
Oil is the life blood of your engine and it must be taken care of in order to keep your engine running for a long time. There are numerous oils out there and about as many opinions on which one to run. Start by referring to your owner’s manual and use what the manufacturer recommends in your engine. Vehicle manufacturers give an API rating and classification on what oils you should use. Oil manufacturers have this same rating on their bottle or jug so you can look at this rating and find an oil that matches what your manufacturer recommends. Also, there's the decision on what weight of oil to use. The weight of an oil tells you how the oil will flow at different temperatures. If you have a 15W/40 oil - it is called a multi-grade oil. The 15 tells you the viscosity or how the oil will flow at cold temperatures. The “W” stands for winter, not weight as people often think. The last number relates to the viscosity at 100*C. So if you have a multi-grade oil, it can allow the oil to flow well during those cold winter starts, but will also protect your engine when it gets hot. Most diesel truck manufacturers recommend 15W/40, which is a good all-around oil. However, if you live in a climate where it rarely gets above freezing, you will need to refer to your owner’s manual, as it may recommend another weight of oil.
The next issue you need to be aware of is oil filters. Again, just like oils there are a number of different manufacturers that make oil filters for vehicles. So what one should you choose? Well, this is a large debate and there are a number of reviews online that you can search to help you gather a more knowledgeable opinion. If you take your vehicle to a lube service dealer then they may or may not give you an option on what filter brand they offer. These locations use pretty good quality filters because they do not want someone’s engine to fail right after they service it. So as long as it is a well-known lube service dealer, you can feel pretty safe. If you do your own oil changes, you should use an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) filter if possible. You will pay a bit more, but they have tested their filters to make sure they meet their requirements for quality.
The next thing you need do to keep your engine running is to change the oil in your vehicle when it is needed. Don't be one of those people who buy a new vehicle and then drive it for a year or more and never change the oil. Then they are stuck with a huge repair bill because their engine would no longer run. For years, we have been told to change your oil every 3000 miles. With new vehicles that run cleaner and have better filter systems, this could possibly be extended. Again, refer to your owner’s manual for specific guidelines on how you drive and what your specific oil change intervals should be. Now if you have a newer vehicle, you will notice that it has some sort of oil life monitor system. This system will tell you how much oil life you have left or may give you how many miles you have before you should change your oil. How does it work? Manufacturers use an algorithm designed into the vehicle's computer that gathers data from sensors in the vehicle and engine. Some of this data is vehicle speed, engine revolutions, temperature, and driving time. The computer then runs this data through a mathematical algorithm that predicts when the oil will begin to degrade. Manufacturers allow the oil change indicator to come on well in advance of the need to change the oil. Some will question if this indicator is truly accurate since it is probably going to allow you to go double sometimes triple the miles that you have always been taught and what the lube oil service center tells you. Just remember that those service centers are in the business to change oil, not to tell you to run your oil longer. If you are truly in doubt about the accuracy of the oil monitor system or the owners manual recommended interval, you can take an oil sample to an oil laboratory and they can give you an analysis of the oil and tell you what condition the oil is in.
The last and final thing to do is to check your oil level and keep the level in between the marks on the dip stick. You should check your oil regularly and most, if not all, manufacturers suggest every time you fill your vehicle with fuel. This may sound like overkill, but don't say we didn't warn you! You should also watch for oil leaks when you park for the night. If your vehicle does leak oil, you may want to check your oil daily depending on the size of the leak and how far you drive. Most oil leaks are a result of a leaking seal which causes oil to leak when running. The oil puddle under your vehicle is just what drips off after stopping and the amount of oil that leaked out in your drive could be much more. If it does leak oil, don’t park on your buddy's cement driveway as this creates large oil stains that are nearly impossible to clean up. If it is leaking this much you should visit your trusted repair shop and get it repaired if possible. It will eliminate a huge mess under your vehicle and will save you money in the long run in case it gets worse and you run your vehicle out of oil.
Take these steps to keep your engine happy, and your vehicle will keep you happy too!