Torque Shop

Can I extend the interval between each engine oil change for my car? It could save me some money and reduce downtime associated with sending my vehicle for an oil change. Also, my car is not driven hard and runs only short distances from my home to work and back.

While it is true that modern engine and automotive lubricants in general are of a much higher quality than, say, 20 years ago, there are still limitations.

The car manufacturer's engine oil change interval is derived from extensive trials during its development. In any car, the engine oil deteriorates not just over time, but also from heat stress, contamination from combustion (even with a new engine) and build-up of minute particles of wear.

Singapore's high temperatures and frequent stop-start city driving is particularly harsh on the engine oil.

All these lead to changes in the chemistry of the oil, reducing its ability to lubricate moving parts within the engine.

Worst of all, extended use of an oil beyond its recommended term causes sludge to form. Sludge does not flow freely and does not lubricate well. It can also clog up oil passages and the oil pump.

Ultimately, engine wear increases, leading to the need for an overhaul, unforeseen expenditure and plenty of inconvenience.

Always follow the recommended oil-change interval and always use the specified type and grade of oil.

Shreejit Changaroth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Subscribe