What Causes Oil to Breakdown?

What Causes Oil to Breakdown

What Causes Oil to Breakdown? Oil can be tricky because it can only withstand so much before it starts to become a hot mess. But we can’t all live where the weather is always perfect or where we can avoid the normal wear and tear of the road and the everyday run around for work and family. Consider these common conditions that causes oil to breakdown faster:

  • Do you often drive around in high temperatures? Extreme heat causes oil to breakdown resulting in sludge and deposits in the engine. High temperatures also cause oil to become thinner; this will result in metal grinding. Ouch. This problem typically can become even worse if you tow heavy loads or if you leave your car running idle for long periods of time.
  • Do you frequently drive short distances? Repeated short distance driving means your oil temp will vary and not reach optimal operating temperatures. It creates water and combustion byproducts, such as smoke, which dilutes the oil and accelerates the breakdown of your oil.

How do climate conditions affect oil? 

It’s all about avoiding the extremes. Very hot or cold temperatures can cause oil to breakdown more quickly, requiring oil changes sooner. Here’s why.

  • In colder temperatures, you need thinner oils because your oil gets thicker as the temperature drops. The result is oil that is harder to pump during startup, which can wear-out your engine faster and make it more difficult to start. Remember, thinner oils are ideal during winter.
  • With hotter climates, you should use heavier oils. That’s because hot temperatures can cause your motor oil to breakdown and thin out. If you don’t have a thick enough oil running in your system, your oil can become too thin and leave parts exposed to metal-on-metal contact.

And remember: always check your owner’s manual. Or even feel free to call us and speak with an experienced, professional technician for the best oil to use in your region.

How does motor oil breakdown?

Oil is temperamental. One minute it is slick, but then, before you know it, slick turns into ‘ick.’ Let’s take a look at what’s happening in your engine while you’re out cruising around.

  • Motor oil becomes less effective over time. Constant exposure to heat, moisture and air results in oil degradation. Oil thickens, sludge forms, deposits appear, and corrosive wear destroys parts.
  • Oil additives depleted, the oil life finished. When oil additives are exhausted, oil can no longer handle anymore dirt and metals that are freely floating around, causing oxidation that leads to sludge. Most importantly, old oil can fails to protect your engine against corrosion and wear when it breaks down. Picture your engine oil trying to work its way through hard and sticky sludge, clogging up oil passageways

How do I check the condition of my oil? 

Simply looking at the oil or rubbing it between your fingers doesn’t tell you everything that is going on inside your engine. However, there are symptoms that could indicate a problem with your oil, including: low oil pressure, overheated engine, or trouble starting in cold weather.

Here is a checklist for a way to check the condition of your oil. Visually examining oil on your oil dipstick may help identify excessive oil thickening or water contamination.

  1. Park on a level surface. Parking on an incline can give you an inaccurate reading of your oil level.
  1. Make sure the engine is cold (oil expands when it is hot).
  1. Is the engine cold? If not, return to the Step #2.
  1. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it with a paper towel, and insert it all the way back until it’s back in place. Now, remove the dipstick again, hold it horizontally, and then read the oil level on the dipstick (every dipstick has a safe oil level indicator).
  1. What does the oil look like? Before you reinsert the dipstick, examine the oil consistency. If your dipstick has a white, milky discoloration, this means water has entered your motor oil.
  1. Add oil as necessary by taking off the oil filler cap, which is located on the very top of the engine and typically labeled “Engine Oil.”
  1. Recheck the oil level with your dipstick to make sure you’ve added the right amount of oil.
  1. Screw on the cap back on tightly.
  1. Consider scheduling an oil change with us next time, if you are unsure when the last professional oil change was done on your vehicle and save yourself the hassle next time!

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