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Change Your Oil

My New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to take better care of myself. For most doctors, this usually means more exercise and less hours in the surgery, and getting those circulating lipids under control.

23 Dec 2010

By Dr Clive Fraser

My New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to take better care of myself.

For most doctors, this usually means more exercise and less hours in the surgery, and getting those circulating lipids under control.

Cars aren’t that different and regular maintenance can prevent expensive repairs.

Although most people can make do with an annual medical check-up, I’ve decided to take my car to the doctor twice as often as the service book says.

The service intervals for modern cars have been pushed out to 15,000 km, which conveniently coincides with the average distance we travel each year.

An oil change every 15,000 km is based on the ability of modern oils to remain within specification over that period, maintaining lubrication and the life of your engine.

On paper this all seems fine, but manufacturers aren’t really interested in prolonging the life of geriatric vehicles that might easily do 250,000 km or more if they are well looked after.

One of the greatest enemies of engines and engine oil are deposits that are by-products of the internal combustion engine.

These by-products include soot, which is abrasive and clogs the tiny lubrication channels inside your engine just in the same way that platelet aggregation and atherosclerotic plaque clogs blood vessels.

Just like the fundoscope’s view of the retina, some indication of what the inside of your engine looks like can be simply gained by unscrewing the oil filler cap and taking a look inside.

Lots of charred carbon coating the internals inside isn’t a good sign.

And even though your oil may be capable of surviving 15,000 km of use, modern engines can consume some oil, meaning that we should all be ready to add a top-up along the way.

But beware that the recommended oil for many modern cars may only be available from the dealer and may not be on the shelf of your favourite bulk-billing discount auto store.

Engine oil glossary

SAE 5W-30

SAE: US Society of Automotive Engineers.

Viscosity: A measure of an oil’s resistance to flow.

5W: Viscosity at 0°F (-17.8°C).

30: Viscosity at 210°F (99°C) which is an engine’s operating temperature.

Practice point:15,000 km service intervals are recommended for “normal’ driving conditions.  Frequent stop-start driving requires more frequent oil changes.  Remember that engines are expensive and oil is cheap.

Safe motoring,

Doctor Clive Fraser

doctorclivefraser@hotmail.com.


Published: 23 Dec 2010