Preventing Oil Sludge with Scheduled Oil Change

July 29, 2011  

A problem that has become more evident since 1997 is  the formation of sludge in an car engine’s oil. Excessive oil sludge can result in catastrophic engine failure. To avoid the expense of an engine re-build, it is crucial that you have a Snohomish Oil Change on a regular basis, per manufacturer’s recommendations.

Oil Sludge

When exceeding the recommended interval between oil changes, the oil in your engine becomes stressed. Other sources of sludge are oxidation and contamination in the oil. Stressed oil actually begins to break down into a gel, sticking to engine parts, restricting the flow of oil through your car’s engine. Additionally, thickened oil stresses the radiator and cooling system because it retains heat rather than releasing it. Sludge first appears in the valve covers and the oil pan.

Why are More Cars Affected by Oil Sludge?

Environmental Pressures:

  1. Engine operating pressures have increased to meed federal emissions specifications, which increases exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). 1996 federal emissions standards require leaner fuel mixture which causes higher combustion temperatures.The increased temperature of the air causes the Nitrogen (N2) present to become a contaminant.
  2. Cooling systems are often neglected since the introduction of “long-life” antifreeze in 1995. This new antifreeze can last as long as 100,000 miles. Becoming electrically charged as it wears out, coolant behaves like acid on engine parts. Engines without coolant are not properly cooled, which in turn, heats the oil through heat transfer.
  3. Engines are designed to use lower viscosity oils to meet pressures for increased fuel economy. Lighter oils break down faster.
Financial Pressures
  1. With recommended oil change intervals being extended beyond the prior 3,000 mile/3-month limit, owners tend to take advantage of this for budgetary reasons.
  2. Quick change oil service centers sometimes use either single-weight or recycled oil; their products are often inferior to a higher quality multi-weight oil. Additionally, using low quality oil filters adds to the problem along with unqualified technicians performing the work.
Preventing Sludge

Newer, more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly engines require additional attention to maintain peak operating conditions. Before making a purchase, research the make and model under consideration to determine if it has a history of sludge complaints. If you find that the vehicle you are interested in has a rash of customer complaints, consider other vehicles!

Minimal Required Maintenance to Reduce Sludge

  1. Follow manufacturer’s recommended schedule for oil change interval; determine whether you operate your vehicle under severe driving conditions and adjust the interval to accommodate 
  2. Determine that your service provider uses only high quality products (oil and filters) when performing a Snohomish Oil Change
  3. Recommended replacement of PCV valve (if applicable) is every 30,000 miles
  4. Recommended coolant system anti-freeze replacement (with 50/50 mixture of anti-freeze & water) every 20,000-30,000 miles/2-3 years.