The Truth About Adding Engine Oil Instead of Replacing It


It is understandable why some car owners would prefer to simply add oil instead of having it changed. Buying oil at a store and adding it to your engine is significantly less expensive, and who doesn’t want to save money? However, if you intend to handle the oil in your car yourself, you must learn how to change the oil rather than continually adding oil to the engine. This requires getting underneath the engine, locating the oil filter and drain plug, draining the oil, and then adding it (there’s a bit more to it, but that’s the gist of it). Adding oil to your car’s engine on a regular basis is preferable to letting it run out of oil, but if that’s all you do, you’ll still encounter numerous issues. So why do we replace oil as opposed to simply adding it? There are several reasons.

The oil contains debris. When oil is first added to a vehicle, there is no dirt present. However, oil enables your engine’s metal components to work together, and even the best engines end up with metal shavings in the oil. Eventually, your oil can become thick and sludge-like as a result of the oil filter allowing other particles to enter it.

You must replace the oil filter in your vehicle. Again, suppose you continue to add oil to your engine without ever replacing it. If so, you are likely using the same oil filter in the engine as well. Eventually, your filter will become so filthy that it will no longer prevent metal shavings, debris, and other contaminants from entering the engine oil. If the oil filter is not replaced, the oil becomes dirtier and the dirtier, thicker, and more sludge-like your oil becomes, the less it can lubricate the engine’s metal components that are pressing together. Engines get hot. If your engine temperature rises too high, that’s a problem. While you may think of your coolant as something that keeps your engine cool – which is correct and vital to your engine’s health – oil prevents your engine from overheating as well. 

So, returning to the premise of our question, what is likely to occur if you continue to add oil to your car without replacing it? At some point, the oil in your vehicle will become extremely thick. It will no longer appear honey-colored, as it does when it first enters your car. In fact, it will appear black, which is a good indication that you need an oil change if you check your oil and find that it is very dark. Your oil will have the consistency of molasses instead of honey. Your oil filter has likely lost its effectiveness at this point. Now, your engine’s components aren’t properly lubricated, and they’re pressing against one another in a manner that causes the engine to overheat. Then anything is possible.  Your head gasket could crack, allowing antifreeze to enter the engine and cause damage. The cylinders of your engine could warp, affecting the pistons. Your engine could have numerous issues, none of which are positive.

If your car begins to overheat while you are still able to drive, pull over, turn off the air conditioner, and turn on the heater. This may sound a little strange, especially on a hot day, but you want to remove engine heat as quickly as possible. Then, you need to take your vehicle to a workshop for inspection; if you’re concerned about driving it, you may wish to have it towed.

But even better, change your oil frequently to begin with. You may believe you are saving money in the short term, but regular oil changes and other routine maintenance can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

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