Oil Changes and Routine Inspections – For Busy People

Without oil, your car engine goes “BOOM” - and without keeping your oil fresh and clean, same thing - BOOM! Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. It keeps all the metal parts moving around in the motor from destroying each other from intense heat and friction.

“How Often Do I Need An Oil Change?”

In general, I recommend every 6,000 km. However, it depends on the manufacturer and the type of oil you’re using.

  • Regular oil: petroleum-based lubricant for your engine.
  • Synthetic oil: fancy oil synthesized from non-petroleum material. It has a longer life expectancy than regular oil - roughly twice as long at 10,000-12,000km.

If you don’t want to go by kilometers, you can follow this rule of thumb: change oil with the seasons - spring summer, fall and winter.

The Cost Of An Oil Change

Not to sound like a politician here, but your yearly cost REALLY depends on the make, model and year of vehicle. Some guy driving a 1985 Audi Coupe might change every 8,000 km and keep it purring. Someone driving a Volkswagon might change every 13,000 km based on factory recommendations.

As far as how much each oil change is, most vehicles will fall in the $40-$60 range (includes parts, oil, and labour). Specialty items such as synthetic oil will cost more - between $60-$100.

Having a regular oil change program is a good way to eliminate guesswork. I monitor how much oil you used and tell how often you need an oil change. That way you can budget each month for maintenance - no surprises!

“What On Earth Does Oil Do?”

Think about what happens when you rub your hands together vigorously for 5 seconds. Voila! You’ve created heat out of thin air.

The same thing happens inside an internal combustion engine (i.e. that thing under the hood of your car with the insatiable appetite for gasoline), and you need oil to keep that friction from overheating your engine. Without oil, your engine will blow up or melt within minutes. So oil reduces friction and regulates temperature in the motor.

Consider the following animation, showing the piston moving inside your engine:

How a car engine works

All that metal moving around inside the engine block creates friction. Fresh clean oil reduces that friction, helping to avoid catastrophic engine failure such as “throwing a rod.”

Throwing a rod is when your engine gets so hot it literally blows a hole in the side of the engine block. Pretty cool eh?

“Why Do I Have To Keep Changing My Oil? Can’t I Just Keep Topping It Up When It Gets Low?”

Your engine is like a maze, with all sorts of nooks and crannies. Your oil pump keeps pressure high, forcing oil into these "hard to get to" areas. If you have low pressure, parts of your engine aren't going to be lubricated - huge problem! So yes - you should top up your oil when it gets low in order to maintain steady oil pressure

Over time though, dirt and soot begin to build up in the oil. Eventually, the oil begins to thicken and turn into black sludge (it’s supposed to look like honey!). This even happens when you’re topping up the engine with new oil, because there is still quite a bit of old oil in there.

Think of what happens when you leave bacon grease in a frying pan overnight. This sludge begins to block oil passages and eventually starves the engine's critical components of lubrication.

When oil gets old it:

  • Loses its ability to lubricate
  • Loses ability to maintain steady oil pressure.

Both of these issues add unnecessary wear to your vehicle and lower the engine’s life expectancy.

How to Avoid Major Headaches In The Future - The Minor Inspection

During your routine oil change I perform a brief visual inspection of your vehicle where I check the following areas:

  • Major fluids (brake, transmission, coolant, etc.)
  • Tires (check pressure and tread life)
  • Brakes (pad life, drum and rotor)
  • Brief inspection of the entire vehicle to make sure nothing looks out of place

I also keep detailed records on file for later.

The benefit of a routine oil change and minor inspection is that it allows me (and you) to connect on a regular basis regarding the health and welfare of your vehicle. It’s your most basic routine maintenance that NEEDS to be done every vehicle!

By doing regular oil changes, you can save money on unnecessary repair bills in the future and you’ll be certain your car is in tip-top shape (and greatly lower the chances of any surprise car failures).