It lubricates a vehicle’s engine. It cools a vehicle’s engine. It cleans a vehicle’s engine. It is motor oil, and without it, an engine could not run. It is as important to your vehicle as it was to the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.

Motor oil performs five basic functions in a vehicle’s engine. It creates a protective film on engine parts to enable them to move freely. It acts as a cushion between metal engine parts to prevent wear. It moves excess heat from the combustion area to the oil pan to keep the engine cool. It works as a sealant between the piston rings and cylinder walls to stop blow-by and power loss. Finally, it suspends contaminants and neutralizes acids to protect the engine from becoming encrusted with harmful deposits.

A vital component of a vehicle’s engine, motor oil is available in three forms: conventional, synthetic blend and synthetic. The least expensive of the three, conventional oil comes from the ground and is refined and blended with additives. A combination of conventional and synthetic oil, synthetic blend is more expensive than conventional oil and works best for vehicles used for heavier work. Of the three, synthetic oil is the most expensive, but because it is manmade, it tends to penetrate an engine better, leaving fewer deposits and offering greater high-temperature resistance and low-temperature flow.

To find out what type of motor oil you should use in your vehicle, consult the owner’s manual. In general, you should change the oil approximately every 3,000 miles or three months. Depending upon your know-how, you can either change the oil yourself or have it done by a professional. As your vehicle ages, gaps between engine parts may become larger and thicker oil may be needed. A service center will be able to advise you on this.

Of course, even with regular oil changes, the engine light may come on. In the event that it does, follow these steps:

1. Pull over and turn off the engine.

2. Switch on the hazard lights and open the hood.

3. Check the oil and add some if needed.

4. Restart the engine and check to see if the engine light is off.

5. Call a tow truck if the light is still on or go about your way if the light is off and check the oil frequently in the next few days to make sure there is not a leak.

Motor oil kept the Tin Man moving and it will keep your vehicle moving, as long as you use it properly and change it regularly. Consult your owner’s manual and follow the recommendations listed regarding the use of motor oil. Keep your vehicle happy and running well!

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