“Check it or wreck it”
You will no doubt have seen the above warning on petrol station forecourts selling oil. It is sensible advice. Whereas in the old days checking your oil was often a weekly ritual, we assume with modern cars that they either don’t use oil, or if they do they are clever enough to warn us.
Sadly both these assumptions can be unsound. Many modern cars burn more oil than classic vehicles. Some BMW minis and Peugeots (which share engines) are particularly culpable, and can use as much as a litre every 1000 miles. Furthermore, whilst cars have been capable of reporting oil level, pressure and temperature for decades, most modern cars do not. Worse still, once you have finally located the dipstick it can be almost impossible to read!
When oil levels run low in a car, it is the valve train at the top of the engine which first experiences oil starvation. Modern engines are highly efficient and this valve gear is often very complex and susceptible to lasting damage. Turbochargers, which are now commonplace on smaller engines, can also be badly damaged. This can require the whole of the top end of the engine to be rebuilt. If the level gets very low, the engine may be damaged beyond repair. We probably see a car every quarter of a year which falls into this category.
It is good practice to check your oil every 1000 miles or before a long journey. You can use the trip meter in the car to remind you when to do this. If you are unsure how to check the oil we are always happy to check it for you, free of charge.
It is important if you are topping up your own oil to ensure it is the appropriate grade and viscosity for your engine. Details will be in the owner’s manual and any good garage will be able to look up your car on the system to ensure the correct grade is used. As a rule of thumb, post 2006 vehicles – particularly diesels – have complex emissions control systems which require a “low ash” oil to be used. If the right grade of oil is not used on these engines it can gum up the valves and filters which can impact on the running of the car and whether it would pass an MOT.
Keeping on top of your oil is therefore a small investment which can save you thousands of pounds in the long term.
Happy and safe motoring to all.
The Motor Garage Ltd