According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than half of Americans live in regions that experience harsh weather conditions—70% to be exact. That means that more than two in three car owners in the United States should start preparing their cars for the winter season.
When considering car maintenance to perform, getting an oil change before temperatures drastically drop ranks as one of the top things to do. Now that cars are sheltering in place for long periods and holidays quickly approaching, getting an oil change helps you avoid sudden engine failure or worse—a breakdown on the road.
Our experts broke down the importance of getting a winter oil change and why it should be one of your first priorities this season.
How Is Oil Used in a Car?
The oil used helps lubricate the components of your car’s engine to protect from rust and avoid excessive friction while in use. Too much friction can generate too much heat, expediting wear or damage that can result in part failure.
Some engine oils contain additives such as detergents that help keep your engine’s parts clean too. Detergent additives clean and neutralize oil impurities which could normally cause deposits, also known as oil sludge, on vital engine parts.
How Regularly Should You Change the Oil in Your Car?
As a general guide, most cars need an oil change every 3,000 to 10,000 miles.
Various makes have different requirements, so our experts suggest checking the recommended oil change schedule in your owner’s manual. The oil type matters too—if you’re using synthetic oil, you’re unlikely to need an oil change as frequently as if you’re using mineral oil.
Already an Endurance customer? Save on your next oil change at popular retailers like Jiffy Lube with your $250 discount vouchers provided by the Endurance Elite Membership. Simply log in to My Digital Vehicle Rewards using your phone number and password—your registered zip code—to experience savings today.
What Happens If You Don’t Change the Oil in Your Car?
Failing to change your oil can result in poorer performance while driving, car parts overheating, and irreversible damage to your engine. Lack of oil can also result in increased fuel consumption and eating the gas over fewer miles.
Oil changes are considered basic car maintenance as it helps ensure clean oil is flowing around your engine and healthier for longer time periods. Although car engines often have oil filters in place to remove grit and dirt, grime does build up over time causing the oil to get dirty. Dirty oil may not seem like a huge issue, but choosing to drive without an oil change can result in costly engine repairs.
What Kind of Engine Oil Should You Use in Your Car?
Firstly, our experts suggest using the right type of oil for your fuel type: S-type oil for gasoline engines, and C-type oil for diesel engines.
Your owner’s manual contains details on the recommended engine oil to use—at this time of year you should also make sure the oil is suited for colder temperatures. If you’re unsure on which option to go for, find a local mechanic near you to help ensure your car is prepped for the winter.
The main choices are:
- Oil type
- Oil quality
- Viscosity grade
Different types of car engine oil are suited for different needs and preferences.
- Synthetic oil—the most expensive option, artificial and specially formulated to maximize performance.
- Mineral oil—the most affordable option, refined from crude oil for use in car engines.
- Blended oil—a mix of mineral and synthetic oil, designed to be cheaper than fully synthetic oil while having some of its benefits.
Paying extra for synthetic oil is advisable for older cars and high-mileage cars. However, always reference your owner’s manual when deciding which option to go with on your next oil change.
High-quality oil is said to maximize performance and prolong your engine’s life as much as possible. The American Petroleum Institute (API) offers certification to oils meeting grades set by car and lubricant manufacturers. Look out for the Starburst or Shield rating, suitable for different viscosity grade oils.
For winter engine oil, pay careful attention to the viscosity grade, i.e. how thick or thin it is at different temperatures, which determines how easily it flows through the engine.
Oil flows better when it’s thinner, which occurs when heated while your car is in use. Winter typically means lower temperatures, like the Midwest, so you’ll want to find an oil that has low viscosity (i.e. one that’s thinner.)
Look out for the first number in the grade range, e.g. 0W-30 vs 10W-30. The W stands for winter and 0W-30 will flow better than 10W-30 at lower temperatures.
How to Check Your Oil in 3 Easy Steps
Setting a schedule for oil changes throughout the year helps ensure your car can handle any weather. That doesn’t mean oil should go unchecked in-between visits to your mechanic. Become a pro at checking your oil in 3 easy steps curated by our experts.
- Step 1: Run the car engine for a few minutes and then turn it off.
- Step 2: Open up the hood and locate the oil dipstick.
- Step 3: Remove the oil dipstick and check the clarity of the oil—a lighter color means it’s still clean, while a darker brown or black color indicates it’s dirty and in need of a change.
Get Protection From Auto Repair Costs
Gain peace of mind this winter by getting your car ready and ensuring you’re covered from the cost of sudden breakdowns. Investing in proper vehicle protection, like an extended car warranty, can alleviate the financial burden of owning a vehicle. With flexible payment plans and coverage levels available, feeling empowered on the road this winter is easier than ever.
With Endurance warranty coverage, you’ll have access to the most comprehensive protection package on the market, saving you thousands on car repairs. Choose the plan with the cover you need, from 24/7 roadside assistance to trip interruption coverage and substitute transportation.
Every plan also comes with 1 year’s free Endurance Elite membership, giving you benefits like key fob replacement, tire repair/replacement, $250 in discount vouchers, and much more.
Find out more about our coverage and flexible payment plans to suit any budget and request a free, no-obligation quote below.