Changing the engine oil is one of the most important maintenance items that your car needs, and there are some things you might want to consider when it comes time for your next oil change. Cars with high mileage or that spend a lot of time in traffic can have some unique challenges to overcome, and the engine oil you are using may be one way to combat wear and make the engine last longer.
High Mileage Engines
Vehicles that have a lot of miles on the engine often have a lot of internal wear that you cannot see. When the engine oil is drained from the vehicle, the oil may contain tiny particles of metal that are evidence of wear. If the engine is still running fine, there is no reason to rebuild the engine, but you can do something to help protect it.
High-mileage engine oil is available that will help to protect the engine from wear and can even help reduce some of the damage inside the engine. Often the cylinder walls will have micro scratches in them that allow some oil to leak past the rings, the bearings will be worn, and other moving parts inside the engine may have some wear as well.
High mileage engine oil can be used when you do an oil change to help. The oil is often heavier, so it lubricates better, it may have moly additives that can help fill scratches, and it has some additives to help combat thermal breakdown. These properties can help reduce wear, but only if you do regular oil changes and make sure that you change the filter with the oil.
Engines that spend a lot of time idling, like when you sit in traffic, can be at risk more than engines used on the highway. If you are in traffic and the car is not moving, there is less airflow through the radiator, and the engine cooling can be reduced. When the engine temperature is higher, the oil can break down faster. The oil pump is turning slower, so there is lower oil pressure, and the oil starts to thin out.
If you find yourself sitting in traffic a lot, you may want to consider replacing the oil in your car with synthetic engine oil at the next oil change to help protect it. Synthetic oils are far more resistant to heat and thermal breakdown, and the oil has additives that provide more lubrication for the moving parts inside the engine.
Synthetic oil can also reduce internal engine temperatures because it lowers the friction created inside the engine. Most oil change services carry synthetic oils that are engineered for these situations. Ask your tech which oil is best for your car when you take your vehicle in for service.