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What Is Oil Sludge And How Is It Causing Engine Damage?

Oil sludge is a black, tar-like substance that collects in the bottom of an automobile oil pan. If the sludge is particularly severe, it can travel through the engine and cause damage to several of the automobile’s moving parts. Oil sludge develops over time as the car engine ages. Modern advances in motor oil have made the collection of oil sludge much less prevalent in the last few years.

Possible Damage to Engines

There are many problems that can be caused by an excessive amount of automobile oil sludge. When oil becomes reduced to sludge, it doesn’t course through the engine the way that it normally would. This slowdown of the oil can lead to an engine overheating very quickly. In the worst cases, oil sludge can cause an engine to seize or lock up. A seized engine cannot be repaired and must be replaced. Oil sludge also causes an automobile engine to run less efficiently because it clogs filters and screens that are supposed to allow air and oil to move through the engine.

What Causes Oil Sludge

Oil sludge is the result of oil particles becoming contaminated with dirt from the road or the engine. The sludge becomes thicker as it is heated while the car is in operation. Oil that has not been changed in over 3,000 miles is more likely to develop sludge because it has collected a larger amount of debris while traveling through the engine. Some cars are more prone to sludge development than others for various reasons. When you have your oil changed, ask the mechanic to let you know if any sludge has built up in your oil pan. There are ways that you can reduce the impact of sludge in your engine, even if your car creates sludge easily.

General Maintenance that Reduces Sludge

The best way to avoid oil sludge is to have your oil changed regularly. If your car’s engine is more prone to creating sludge, you may need to have the car serviced more often than the recommended rate of every 3,000 miles. Another way to reduce sludge is to avoid overheating the automobile. If you find that you are stuck in traffic and idling excessively, turn the car off to allow it to cool as often as possible. The longer your engine is overheated, the more it will create sludge.

What Type of Oil Provides Better Protection

Synthetic oil is the best option if you are worried about sludge building up in your automobile engine. There are several brands and weights of synthetic oil to choose from, and they all provide excellent protection against sludge. Traditional oil is notorious for creating sludge very easily because of its organic petroleum base. Synthetic oils are manufactured specifically to avoid the chemical process that leads to automobile oil sludge. Synthetic oil should be changed regularly, just like traditional oil, to increase your chances of avoiding sludge. Most oil change services offer both synthetic and traditional oil options.

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