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Ask the Mechanic: What type of oil should I use and how often should I change it?

The type of oil you use and how often you change it are crucial to making sure that your car performs to an optimum level for as long as possible. This is because oil plays an important role in keeping engine components clean, minimising friction, reducing heat and preventing corrosion. Using the wrong type of oil, or failing to change it frequently, can cause premature wear and tear, as well as blockages.

What type of oil should you use?

Your car's instruction manual should indicate minimum oil specs. But, for best results, opt for an higher quality product. The most suitable type of oil is determined according to vehicle type. First up, an expensive, high-performance vehicle needs premium oil. Second up, older cars need oil that is specifically designed for them, because engine mechanisms have changed so much over the years, due to dramatic technological advancements. Thirdly, the way you use your car matters, too. Those who drive in the city often, putting their car through a lot of stopping and starting, might need a higher quality oil than those who live in the country. If in doubt, make sure you ask your mechanic about what oil types they have available.

How often should you change the oil?

Recommended oil change frequencies are also found in your instruction manual. Intervals are usually determined by time periods and/or distances travelled. Obviously, the further you drive on a regular basis, the more often you'll need to change the oil.

Why can't I top up the oil instead of changing it?

Adding to existing oil can cause stress. This is particularly the case in modern cars, which use less oil than older ones.

What should I do with old oil?

Unfortunately, oil that's been used can be extremely poisonous. So you should never throw it out with your regular household garbage, and if you're caught tossing it into a public sewage system, you're likely to be heavily fined. It's best to place old oil into a sealed container and take it to the nearest disposal or recycling depot. If you're unsure of what to do, get in touch with your local repair centre in Sydney for advice.

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