Car Time – February 2019


Oil Maintenance Has Changed While Staying the Same

    Taking advantage of current technology, modern vehicles have advanced drastically. Still, even hybrids have combustion engines that require maintenance. Today’s engineers design engines to run ultra-efficiently using components that did not exist previously. They also use types of engine oil that did not exist before.
    The whole idea is to reduce friction in order to reduce tailpipe emissions. The other benefit is that the engines potentially last longer. These new engines with slippery new oil reduce friction at start-up and reduce sludge detrimental to engine survival. Like other components on your vehicle, technology will help your vehicle but will come at a price.
    This mirrors the fact that new LED type lights are brighter and offer better visibility but the cost of replacement is much more expensive. When you have a Toyota Prius, for example, and one of the taillights goes out, instead of costing $58 to replace a bulb, you would spend more like $373 on an LED taillight assembly. Similarly, if you own a new Jeep Cherokee that requires 0/20 viscosity oil, instead of spending $58 for an oil change you might spend $122! That is the way it is now.
    Most manufacturers are gravitating to the new engine technology. Many European and high-performance engines already require expensive oil. This is one more reason people need to be good consumers of automotive ownership. When shopping for a car, find out what kind of oil it takes so you know what the maintenance cost impact will be. At the same time, seek other maintenance requirements.
    If you like high performance cars, you should realize there will be a price of admission. If you are looking for basic transportation you may not want to pay over $120 for an oil change just to gain one or two MPGs while driving.
    The technology has indeed changed but the importance of maintenance does not. Modern engines are very reliant on good maintenance. It is very important that they have the correct oil that is changed regularly. Oil change neglect on a hybrid will kill it just the same as it would on a non-hybrid. Even non-hybrid vehicles have modern components that will be affected by low oil level or dirty oil. When a vehicle has a high mileage over 200,000 miles it will burn more oil and will need above average attention to oil changes. At this juncture, more sludge and grit would result even while quietly burning more oil than you are used to using. Such vehicles also require above average attention to checking and adding oil.
    We have recently had three different vehicles that had either a seized engine or a noisy engine long before they should. The bottom line? Oil change maintenance is important even with it being more expensive now. Be sure to understand what type of oil your vehicles require. Do your research before buying a new vehicle and understand the financial impact of operating that vehicle. As always, be a good consumer of automotive repair. I am always available for automotive consultation.
    John Vanek can be reached at

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