What Should You Do If You Waited Too Long To Change Your Oil?

If you've been driving for very long, you probably know that changing your oil is critical to maintaining your car's performance, reliability, and efficiency. Allowing your oil to become too dirty can cause excessive internal wear, potentially reducing your engine's lifespan and leading to costly repairs. Unfortunately, it's easy to ignore these consequences and put off changing your oil a little too long.

Waiting a few months or even a few thousand miles extra typically won't hurt your car, as long as you don't make a habit of it. However, extending your oil change interval for too long may create a sludge that can coat internal engine parts and even clog up oil channels. If you're well beyond your recommended oil change intervals, you'll want to follow these three steps to help protect your car.

1. Change Your Oil Immediately

Getting new oil in your car should be your top priority. You'll add more wear to your engine for every day that you drive with inadequate lubrication, potentially increasing the likelihood of causing substantial damage. Even worse, old and sludgy oil can clog up your oil filter, reducing oil pressure and quickly leading to catastrophic damage.

Even if you don't take any other steps to rectify your old oil situation, you need to get new oil in your car as soon as possible. Once you change your oil, it's critical to get back to your manufacturer's recommended change interval at a minimum. Multiple extended oil change intervals can easily lead to irreversible internal engine damage.

2. Consider An Engine Flush

Flushing modern engine oil is typically not necessary. Modern oils use unique formulations that include detergent additives. These additives remove particulate matter and hold it in suspension, allowing any dirt or debris to flush out when you change your oil. In other words, your routine oil changes essentially act as an engine flush.

However, oils will not hold debris in suspension forever. As the oil becomes more saturated and dirty, particles will fall out and accumulate on engine surfaces. If you've waited too long to change your oil, a flush can help reduce this sludge build-up. Note that you should generally treat this as a one-time process and avoid using flushes too often.

3. Change Your Oil Again

If you use a detergent additive to flush your engine, you'll usually need to change your oil again in a few hundred miles. Even if you choose not to flush your engine, you should consider performing an accelerated oil change at least once. Changing your oil again within a few thousand miles will ensure any sludge or debris that's broken loose won't remain in the crankcase.

Modern engines and engine oils are reliable and well-made, so routine oil changes are all that's necessary to keep your engine clean and running well. By deferring your oil changes, you potentially lose out on these advantages. Whenever possible, stick to your manufacturer's recommended oil change intervals to ensure your engine lasts for as long as possible.  

For more information, contact a local auto shop like All Auto Escondido.