Aaron Widmar
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What Happens if You Don’t Change Your Car’s Engine Oil?

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Photo: The News Wheel

You keep being told that it’s important to have your car’s engine oil changed frequently. But how necessary is it to actually do that? Won’t the engine run fine with the oil it has? How bad could it be to postpone an oil change for a year? This is what mechanics say will happen if you never change your car’s engine oil.


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The danger of skipping an oil change

Engine oil is a key component of your car’s mechanical operations. Although it’s not a mechanical component in itself, it helps those metal components move and operate safely and effectively. Without engine oil present to lubricate the mechanized parts, the system would break down and cease functioning.

So why does your car need new engine oil all the time? As the engine runs, two things happen to the current oil: It becomes dirty with grime and its chemical elements break down. Oil can only function as a lubricant for so long until it begins breaking apart and becoming coarse — hastened by oxidation.

According to Quaker State’s Jeff Hsu, as interviewed by Kelley Blue Book in its KBB’s Oil Explained! series on YouTube, this will inevitably lead to “a catastrophic failure” where “every light on your dashboard will light up in a Christmas tree, and then it will quit on you.” You wouldn’t want that to happen when you’re driving on the highway!

Thus, if you wait too long to change your engine’s oil with fresh, clean liquid, the inner workings of your vehicle’s motor will grind together and seize up. Your car will become a fancy block of $25,000 metal and cloth.

For tips on changing engine oil yourself, here’s our simple step-by-step tutorial and a guide to understanding how to read those confusing oil bottle labels.


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