Tony Powell English 1301 Prof Matlock April 25 2012 Change Your Oil Car care maintenance is very

important and requires an elevated degree of diligence in order to retain a functioning vehicle for a substantial length of time. One regularly scheduled maintenance procedure that almost everyone is aware of is changing the motor oil. Many of us know we should change our oil, but most of us do not know why we should change our oil- aside from the fact that it gets dirty. Consequently, many people shirk off changing their oil for thousands of miles as the internal damage that is done is sometimes permanent, or costly to reverse: out of sight, out of mind. Failure to regularly change the oil in your car can result in poor gas mileage, poor acceleration, pollution, failure to pass smog tests, excessive wear on parts, overheating, and even a ceased engine block. Inside of an engine block, there are perfectly cylindrical holes, which allow for metal, coffee-can type pistons to slide up and down, thus compressing air in a confined space, facilitating the explosion that pushes us forward. As pistons slide up and down the cylinders at certain speeds (revolutions per minute) there are very hard, thin rubber and metal rings that wrap evenly around the pistons that create a seal on the side of the cylinder bores. This allows the walls of the cylinder to stay lubricated and keep the oil at the bottom of the engine in the oil pan, and not sloshing up into the combustion chamber. Over time, as these rings on the pistons “scrub” the side of the cylinder bores- where carbon soot remains from the explosions- the oil begins to accumulate carbon deposits and becomes dirty.

For arguments sake, let us say that an individual has gone three thousand miles over their scheduled maintenance to change their oil. Depending on the quality filter that was installed on the vehicle, there is a good chance that at this point of neglect the filter is no longer properly functioning, due to the mesh screens and low micron filters now clogged up by the excess of carbon deposits. Now, the motor will accumulate carbon deposits at an exponential rate as the filter no longer filters, and the oil begins to break down due to excessive use and contamination. This leads to the formulation of oil solids as oil molecules break down and are glued together with carbon deposits. These deposits will create a sludge that collects on your piston rings and in the valleys and oil passages in your motor that are designed to circulate oil- keeping the motor and its moving parts cool. At this stage, an oil change along with the addition of an anti-sludging chemical found at any auto store will break lose the oil deposits in the valleys and oil passages and might break lose sludge stuck to the bottom of the piston rings. Crisis can still be averted. As time goes on, sludge on the piston rings, valleys, and oil passages will accumulate more, causing poor oil circulation and thick, hardening sludge on the piston rings. Poor circulation will cause higher oil temperatures and higher engine temperatures overall in the engine block, leading to expedited oil breakdown and excessive wear on the car’s radiator fan motors. As sludge hardens and stacks up on the piston rings, the seal between the piston ring and the block becomes eroded, allowing pressurized exhaust gasses from the above explosions to blow-by the piston rings into the oil pan. This is problematic for many reasons. First, this causes the explosions to be less powerful because the explosion is not completely confined anymore; this results in poor acceleration. Second, this causes the oil in your car to become contaminated at a faster rate as exhaust gasses enter the oil pan. Thirdly, oil will seep upwards past the piston rings as the oil is not completely “scrubbed” from the walls as it used to, allowing

oil to enter the combustion chamber. This causes oil burning and consumption leading to large amounts of carbon deposits to pass by, and form on valves that are constantly opening and closing to allow fresh air into the combustion chamber, and exhaust gas out. As the valves collect carbon deposits, they will not seat properly, causing an even sharper decline in engine performance as the explosions are less contained. Additionally, some exhaust measuring devices, such as O2 sensors in your exhaust piping, will be sullied by the carbon and will require replacement more often, or the car’s computer will be unable to accurately correct any rich(unburned fuel) or lean(not enough fuel) environment in the air/fuel ratio, causing your car to again lose performance. Also, most modern vehicles have what is called an Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve which directs unburned exhaust gasses back into the intake to be reburned by the motor; this valve and mechanism will wear out much faster as carbon collects and will eventually jam the valve from opening and closing. If the car is taken to a mechanic and the piston rings were changed, the valves were reseated, and any oil sludge and carbon deposits removed from the motor- crisis can still be averted. Alas, if a motor continues on without proper oil change, impending doom surely awaits. Eventually, the continuation of hot exhaust gasses passing by piston rings- coupled with carbon deposits and oil sludge- will lead to a material breakdown of the piston rings. Large plumes of black smoke will billow out the tailpipe; acceleration will be poor and spotty; the motor will run hot and die while being difficult to restart; the abused, damaged piston rings will break lose severing all ties as a seal. Lastly, the pistons, unencumbered by the piston rings, will slap violently into the block-metal on metal-driving the flat edge of the piston into the smooth cylinder bores, causing metal tears and a final seizure of moving parts, as a myriad of connecting parts break in a final cacophony of sound.

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