When you are already balancing work, your family and a social life, oil change notifications can seem like yet another unnecessary distraction to be pushed off for a more convenient time. Although waiting an extra week or two to change your oil may not cause any serious harm, letting it go for too long can lead to permanent and expensive damage. If you have ever wondered what would really happen if you skipped an oil change, the following three consequences may settle your mind.
Escalating Engine Temperatures
Engine oil contains certain molecules that determine its viscosity and lubricating potential. Over time, these molecules break down, causing the oil to lose its consistency and congeal into sludge. This sludge gums up your engine by collecting over filters and along tubes, and your car's engine is forced to work harder to achieve the same performance. As the buildup progresses, your car will reach its limits and overheat, leading to warped components, less efficiency and an eventual catastrophic failure.
Clogging the Oil Filter and Drain
Dirt and small particles of debris are an inevitable addition to engine oil, but they are normally screened out as the oil passes through the engine's oil filter. Sludge and too much debris, however, can combine to form a thick, slimy wall over the filter, preventing oil from flowing through. Most engines are equipped with a relief valve to accommodate this, but the oil is no longer filtered. Dirty oil increases the friction of moving parts in an engine and will slowly decrease its lifespan if not cleaned out. Similarly, once you do finally change your oil and filter, you may discover that oil is still not flowing through the system. This is typically caused by sludge collecting on the bottom of the oil pan, blocking the drain and requiring an in-depth cleaning to correct.
Decreasing Fuel Efficiency
All of these factors can damage your engine and even destroy it beyond repair if left for too long, but you will also see the side-effects of overdue oil at the gas station. An engine that cannot perform at peak efficiency will gobble up gasoline to compensate. If you notice that your tanks of gas don't seem to be lasting as long as they used to, check when your next oil change is due. A quick auto service appointment could put your car back into perfect working order and ensure it stays on the road for many years to come. With so much at stake, can you really afford to procrastinate?