Category Archives: Oil Changes

The Douglas Automotive Basic Guide to Synthetic Oil

Synthetic motor oil has been around for a long time, and more and more new vehicles are leaving factories with synthetic in their engines. But a lot of drivers don't really know much about it. Let's start with conventional oil - the kind folks are used to. Conventional oil is made up of naturally occurring hydrocarbon chains, which means its molecules are long and have various lengths. Like a pile of pencils. Some synthetic oil starts with a petroleum base that's modified and others are entirely synthesized from other materials. Synthetic motor oil works better in both hot and cold temperatures. It's more chemically stable so it doesn't readily evaporate or break down in the high heat produced inside your vehicle engine. This means it resists turning into sludge, which is a real engine killer. Remember that marbles and pencils thing we were talking about? Well, that makes synthetic oil slipperier than conventional oil which means less friction in your engine. You ... read more

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Oil Changes

"What causes engine 'tick'”

"What causes engine 'tick'”

Q. When I first start my car in the morning, I hear a ticking noise coming from the engine. It's a 2003 Ford Escape Limited with a V-6 engine and 70,000 miles. It goes away after 30 seconds or less and doesn't do it upon subsequent warm startups, like after a visit to the grocery store. I've changed oil on a routine basis, but just to be sure I didn't get inferior oil or the wrong weight put in on the last oil change, I had it changed again at the Ford dealer using their super blend oil. That didn't help -- it still does the "ticking" noise on cold starts. Is this something serious to worry about? I've heard differing opinions. What could be the problem and how can I get it properly diagnosed? A. Good question, John! It really depends on how severe the noise is and how long it lasts. It sounds, from your description, like you have a lifter or two that is bleeding down when the car sits overnight. When you start it cold it takes a few seconds for the ... read more

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Oil Changes

Another Oil Change?!

Another Oil Change?!

Longer oil-change intervals may not be the best way to go. Many vehicle manufacturers have pushed the oil change interval out to 5,000 or 8,000 and even 10,000 miles. These higher intervals may not be the way to go based on some recent findings. In one case the manufacturers' standard oil-drain service for particular vehicles was scheduled at around 7,500 miles, but people following these recommendations were experiencing engine damage. Oil sludge was building up in the engine causing small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail. The manufacturers extended the warranty on these engines but started requiring shorter oil-change intervals. We have seen several of these cases in our shops where clients let long periods of time go between oil changes, which caused the oil to sludge up in the engine. One of the components that seems to be very susceptible to problems from oil sludge is the Variable Timing Actuator. There are very tiny passages in this component and if oil can ... read more

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Oil Changes

Problems can arise with long oil change intervals

Problems can arise with long oil change intervals

I feel like a broken record on this but I feel like it bears bringing up again because we continue to see cars coming into the shop with little or no oil in the crankcase. The longer car manufacturers push out the oil change interval, the more drivers get a false sense that the oil is just another one of those maintenance-free parts of the car. When you drive 6,000 miles between oil changes, you had better check your oil a couple times in between those changes because there is a good chance you need to add a quart once or twice before the next oil change. This is what we are seeing in the shop. Some of these smaller cars today only hold 3 quarts and if you go down 2 quarts, that puts your engine at great risk. As the oil gets low, it will get dirtier and have a tendency to sludge. The other thing you need to know is that oil in today's engine does more than just lubricate. It is used as a hydraulic fluid for controlling different engine functions, like variable valve timing or ... read more

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Oil Changes

Don't over fill oil with new cars

Don't over fill oil with new cars

Q. I have a 2001 Buick Regal which, I understand, should take 4.5 quarts of oil on an oil change, not five quarts. Is the higher amount harmful to the engine? It does read considerably over the full mark on the dip stick when this happens. A. You are correct on the oil capacity for your car; it is 4.5 quarts. If it is over filled by half a quart, it should not hurt anything, but I would take it back to the oil change shop and have the level adjusted to the proper level. It is always hard to know exactly how much oil is too much, so it's best to get it right on the nose. While the oil level being exactly on the line is not as critical on your car, it is extremely critical on some of the newer vehicles. The oil level has to be right or it can set computer codes in newer models, and in fact some of the hybrids won't even start. As long as we are talking about oil, let me use this opportunity to remind our readers not only of the importance of keeping the oil changed at the appr ... read more

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Oil Changes
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