Car Mechanics: Engine Oil Basics

March 4th, 2016 by

While we all know we need engine oil in our cars, not all of us know exactly what it does. Oil is essential to preventing your car from serious problems and it is key to making sure your car will last as long as possible. So if you’re like many, many people who don’t know too much about oil and want to avoid future problems or just want to learn about something new, keep reading.

What Oil Does in a Car

Engines have parts that constantly move against each other and cause friction. Overtime, that friction creates wear and tear on those parts. So oil is used to lubricate those parts so they move as smooth as possible while creating the least amount of friction. While, the lubrication motor oil provides may not prevent wear and tear completely, it is a big factor in slowing wear and tear down.

The inner side of the engine can be a sweltering place due to the combustion of fossil fuels that power the engine. Engine oil draws this heat away from the combustion chamber and removes the deposits that accumulate inside. The small particles from wear and tear get suspended in engine oil and are removed when the oil is changed. This is why oil changes are important — to add new and clean oil into the car because a lot of sediment has built up.

The oil that is poured into the engine takes several paths that lead to the oil pan at the bottom called the sump. Here, there is a submerged pickup tube that delivers oil to the oil pump which squeezes the oil to a high pressure and passes it through the oil filter and into the space between the car’s bearings. The bearings encircle the moving components of the engine which are the crankshaft, the camshaft and the rocker arms.

What happens when there is no oil in the car?

If there is absolutely no oil in a car, within seconds, an engine will seize up. When metal to metal rubs against each other at extremely hot and high speeds eventually they can’t move any more and they just stop.   When that happens, the metal is so damaged within the engine that it can not be repaired — a new engine is the only answer.  

How do I know which type of engine oil to use?

Check your owner’s manual, silly. Always check the manual when in doubt. Checking your oil is very easy to do and if you have never been shown how to do it, watch a YouTube video — there’s tons of them out there. And, oil is very affordable, so cost is never a reason to damage or destroy your car.

Posted in Driver's Auto Mart