They say that you should change your oil every 3000, 5000 miles or some other figure depending on your vehicle and usage. But time is an equally important factor. Over time older engine oil can become sludgy. And sludgy oil is bad for your engine for a number of reasons. Let’s look at why:
Sludge forms as a result of the chemical reactions taking place in the engine. The intense heat breaks down oil which gets oxidized over time. The produced carbon and other compounds mix with dirt and other contaminants, forming a thick, dark oil known as sludge.
As a result of the accumulated sludge, the engine will become hotter. The sludge also coats gears and other moving parts of the engine, making it work harder. Without proper care, the sludge can turn into an expensive mess.
How to Identify Sludge in Your Vehicle Engine
You can identify engine sludge using the following steps:
Check the oil light. If the oil change notification light has been coming on, it can be an indication of sludge. It could result from the polymerization of the oil, and the vehicle will signal a low oil volume.
Oil splatters. It is good to pop the hood and check for oil splatters where they shouldn’t be. If you see any signs of oil splatter on the engine’s exterior, that shows the presence of sludge. Typically, it will appear as small clumps of some dark, thick oil.
Inspect the oil pan. You will have to remove the oil cap from the oil pan and use a flashlight to see the contents of the pan. If the vehicle does not have sludge, the walls and other parts of the pan will appear metallic and silver. If you see any signs of engine sludge, it should indicate the presence of oil sludge on the other engine parts.
After conducting the checks indicated above, you can be sure if your vehicle has engine sludge. You will have to remove the sludge as soon as possible. There is no standard cost of removing the sludge since it all depends on the extent of the issue. If you let the sludge accumulate to a point where the car can no longer move, you may have to replace the entire engine.
How to Prevent Engine Sludge
- Be sure to change the engine oil and filter regularly. The best thing you can do is to follow the guidelines indicated by the manufacturer in the owner’s manual. Whether you change it yourself or take it to the mechanic, do it regularly as required.
- When covering a short distance, it is good to walk or use a bike. Stop and go driving strains your car engine and can play a significant role in enhancing engine sludge development.
- Consider using an engine sludge remover. The good thing is that the sludge removers are available in most auto part stores. They are also easy to use since you only have to follow the instructions indicated on the bottle. It is important to note that car owners and mechanics give different opinions on the usefulness of sludge removers. However, many people agree that they help.
- If you notice that the amount of engine sludge your vehicle has accumulated is too much, visit a mechanic like Fred’s Auto Center.