If you watch or listen to the news, discussions come up all the time about the price of a barrel of oil and the cost of fuel at the gas pump. The sale of large SUVís has plummeted and manufacturers have been giving huge rebates to manufacturers just to get rid of them. With gas prices climbing, people are seeking other ways to save on fuel such as buying small or mid-size SUVís, smaller cars or Hybrids. When listening to the news, you may also hear about alternative fuels such as E85, Hydrogen or anything else to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
Crude oil is pulled from the ground and sent to refineries to create our fuel. The sludge that is left at the refinery is then used to create oil to lubricate the internals of the engines in our vehicles. Did you know that conventional oil from the ground is full of impurities, paraffinís and waxes? Crude oil from the ground has millions of different kinds of molecules. Many of these molecules are similar in weight but not in structure. Refining the oil does not remove all of the critical impurities. The lubrication and performance qualities of refined petroleum are limited. The refining process cannot distinguish such molecules, so a wide assortment of molecules is present in the finished lubricant made from crude oil. Many of the molecules from the crude oil contain paraffin (a wax-like substance harmful to your engine), which cause the lubrication to thicken and flow very poorly in cold temperatures. There is also sulfur, nitrogen and other nasty elements in refined crude oil that cause the build up of sludge and varnish inside of an engine. The sludge and break down of molecules are what significantly cause wear and breakdown of the oil in your engine.
That same crude oil is also used to make tar for the roads. Is that something you want lubricating your engine? The automobile manufacturers and car dealerships seem to think so. That low-cost conventional oil guarantees profits all across the board. How is this possible? Manufacturers like the low quality oil because itís just good enough to get a car to get passed the warranty period before major wear starts to be noticeable, such as your valve guides wearing out. Thatís when you see that puff of smoke when you first start your car in the morning once you have put high mileage on it. Since conventional oil is loaded with all of these impurities and non-uniform molecules, it breaks down quickly and creates sludge and varnish; hence you need to change it at approximately 3,000 miles. This is a perfect excuse to create foot traffic at the dealership and the quick lubes. The last thing the dealerships or quick lubes want is a long lasting oil or an oil that will extend the life of an engine or transmission. Marc Graham, the president of Jiffy Lube, stated in an article that if they could get their customers to shorten their drain interval by only 100 miles (changing the oil at 2,900 instead of 3,000 miles), that it would mean an extra $20 million dollars in revenue for the company each year. If they could get all of their customers to get one extra oil change per year, the company could make an extra $294 million. I hope you can now see their motivation for the short intervals. Itís in their best interest, not yours.
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