ENGINE OIL CHECKS - WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When fresh oil is initially added to the crankcase, it has a vibrant, golden or amber hue. This pristine appearance signifies the oil's cleanliness and its ability to provide proper lubrication and protection to the engine's internal components. However, as the engine operates, several factors contribute to the gradual darkening of the oil.
Factors Contributing to Oil Darkening:
- Heat: The high temperatures generated within the engine can cause the oil to darken over time. The heat can lead to chemical reactions within the oil, altering its color.
- Dirt Particles: Engines operate in environments where dust and dirt particles are prevalent. These particles can make their way into the crankcase and mix with the oil, leading to darkening as well as potential abrasive wear on engine components.
- Turbulent Air: The constant movement of air within the crankcase, along with the engine's internal components, can agitate the oil. This agitation can lead to oxidation and the gradual darkening of the oil.
Manufacturers generally recommend changing the oil in small engines after every 25 hours of operation to maintain optimal engine performance. Additionally, for brand-new engines, it is advisable to perform an initial oil change after the first five hours of use. This initial change serves to flush out any small particles that may have accumulated during the engine's break-in period.
The frequency of oil changes isn't solely determined by the number of hours the engine runs but also by the conditions in which it operates. Engines subjected to harsh conditions, such as mowing wet grass, navigating rough or hilly terrain, enduring high temperatures, or operating in dusty environments, may require more frequent oil changes. These challenging conditions can accelerate oil degradation and necessitate more diligent maintenance.
One crucial aspect of oil maintenance is avoiding overfilling the crankcase. Excess oil can create problems similar to those caused by insufficient oil levels. When overfilled, air bubbles may form within the oil, diminishing its overall lubricating effectiveness. This can lead to increased friction, metal-to-metal contact, and potential premature wear of engine components. Furthermore, excess oil may burn in the cylinder, resulting in smoke emissions and the formation of carbon deposits.
To ensure optimal engine performance and longevity, it's essential to adhere to the manufacturer's recommended oil change intervals, taking into account both hours of operation and the operating conditions. Regular oil changes help maintain clean, effective lubrication, preserving the engine's performance and reducing the risk of costly repairs.