How Oil Changes Increase Vehicle Performance

March 15th, 2019 by

When most people think about boosting performance for their car, their thoughts turn to things like turbochargers, nitrous injection, or even an engine swap. While all those items can result in better car performance, there’s something even simpler you can do: regular oil changes.


It might seem like a small thing, but changing the oil in your car at the manufacturer-recommended intervals actually helps with performance on multiple levels. Changing the oil not only boosts performance but not changing it reduces vehicle performance and is one of the vehicle maintenance items not to neglect. That might seem pretty unbelievable, but it’s something everyone should be doing, whether they want a faster or more efficient car.



Fuel Efficiency


Speaking of efficiency, changing the oil in your car improves gas mileage. That’s a good thing, since you’re spending less on gas or diesel and can go further on a full tank. It also means less pollution in the air, which benefits everyone.


The main function of motor oil is to lubricate the different moving parts of the engine. That might not sound exciting, but it’s certainly an essential part of the engine running properly. As oil ages, it loses viscosity, or the ability to lubricate the various components properly. This is one of the reasons why you should change the oil according to the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.


Clean oil keeps the different parts in the engine flowing freely. Dirty oil which has lost viscosity requires the engine to work harder just to maintain the same speed. As the engine works harder it consumes more fuel. So, keeping the oil changed like you’re supposed to boosts performance in this key area.



Heat Transfer


In case you aren’t aware, it gets really hot in an engine. Every time the fuel combusts in a cylinder, it’s like a mini explosion, complete with flames. On top of that, as the different metal components move, they generate heat through friction.


Engine oil cuts down on friction, so part of the heat source in an engine is properly maintained through regular servicing.


What most car owners don’t realize is oil actually soaks up some of the heat in the engine. As it flows away from the high-heat areas, the heat is then transferred elsewhere. High-performance engines even have air coolers, which operate somewhat like small radiators, to help with this very thing.


When the oil is dirty, it doesn’t have the capacity to transport nearly as much heat. Through regular oil changes, you ensure clean oil is flowing through the engine. This principle is especially important if you’re going to be towing or driving aggressively since the engine can be pushed to its limits. Dirty oil alone could be enough to cause the engine to overheat, which is a scary situation and can lead to expensive damage.



Debris Removal


As mentioned above, oil changes provide a way to get rid of debris in the oil. This is something which happens in all engines, no matter the age of a car.


Debris gets into the engine through a variety of ways. The fuel system has a set of filters to help prevent it from flowing in that way, but some can still pass through. Even more common is the air intake. While there’s a filter on that as well, it can become overly dirty, and it also doesn’t filter out every dust particle. This is especially true if you’ve been driving on dirt roads often.


The fact is debris of any kind is harmful to engines. The oil helps by picking up these foreign objects and transporting them to the oil filter, where they’re trapped. Too much debris can blow oil passageways, meaning components in certain parts of the engine then grind on each other, possibly until they fuse together or break.


Metal shavings can be found in engines. These are from the various components, sometimes because of friction and sometimes because of debris in the engine wearing down the metal. These shavings are especially dangerous since they can wear down components in a hurry. Just like the other debris, the oil moves the metal shavings all the way to the filter.


Sludge is another performance issue. As oil ages, it breaks down into a sludge substance which can put a considerable amount of strain on the engine. This, in turn, hurts performance. Oil changes remove the sludge, plus gets rid of the dirty oil and filter, replacing everything with clean lubrication.



Engine Longevity


Another aspect of engine performance you need to be concerned with its longevity. After all, nobody wants to be rebuilding or replacing the engine in their car. If you don’t stay on top of oil changes, that’s exactly what can happen.


Using old oil can kill your engine by overheating it, scouring the parts with debris, starving different areas because of blockages in the oil passageways, and more. Since car oil changes cost relatively little, especially compared to rebuilding or replacing an engine, it’s the smart choice.



Synthetic Oil


There’s some question among a good portion of car owners if synthetic oil is worth the extra cost. Shops will often push synthetic oil changes, stating that it comes with a number of benefits. It’s easy to assume the shop is just trying to get more money out of you, but there’s actually truth to this.


Synthetic oil has been engineered on the molecular level to maintain its viscosity longer than conventional oil. That means better lubrication, less risk of engine damage, improved heat transfer performance, and even the ability to remove debris from the engine.


While it costs more, synthetic oil is better at protecting engine parts and guarding a car’s performance.



Change Intervals


Funny enough, there’s a big debate among many cars owners about when to change the engine oil. Some still say it should be done every 3,000 miles, which simply isn’t true in modern times.


The answer is that it depends on the car model. You can look in the owner’s manual to find the intervals the manufacturer recommends for oil changes. That’s what you should follow, instead of what someone else says. This car care practice will serve you well for the long term.