Oil changes are a necessary part of ongoing vehicle maintenance. However, does it feel like your vehicle is always telling you that you need another oil change? While you may be tempted to attribute this to a faulty sensor and ignore your dashboard light, it could be a sign of a serious, yet easy-to-fix, engine issue. Learn more here from the technicians at Chapel Hill Tire.
Why Does My Oil Change Light Keep Coming On?
Most vehicles require an oil change every 3,000 miles or 6 months (whichever comes first). There are a few potential sources of oil depletion, but one primary culprit is dirty piston rings. To understand this issue, let’s take a baseline look at how your engine work:
- The combustion chamber is where your fuel mixes with your vehicle’s air pressure and electricity to power your engine.
- Piston rings are designed to seal your engine’s combustion chamber. However, when your piston rings are dirty, they become loose and ultimately break this seal.
- Oil continuously circulates the combustion chamber and can infiltrate this system through loose piston rings. This rapidly burns up and depletes your engine oil.
How Does This Impact Vehicle Performance?
When your piston rings become dirty, blocked, or ineffective, they fail to seal and protect your combustion chamber. This has several combined effects on your engine performance:
- Lower Combustion Pressure—Your engine relies on carefully distributed hydraulic pressure to circulate oil, fuel, air, and other engine fluids. The combustion process also requires careful air pressure. Loose piston rings can lower the internal pressure of your combustion chamber, inhibiting this essential process.
- Oil Contamination—As your oil passes over dirty piston rings, it will become contaminated with its dirt and soot. This negatively changes the composition of your engine oil.
- Oil Oxidation—The combustion process is created through a mixture of air and fuel. When your oil mixes with the combustion air released through loose piston rings, it can become thickened and oxidized.
- Oil Combustion—Loose piston rings also let engine oil into the combustion chamber and out through your exhaust. Without the oil your engine needs to function properly, your engine performance will take a hit.
So How Do You Stop Excessive Oil Consumption?
The key to stopping oil burning is addressing dirty piston rings. While piston rings can be costly to replace, they are fairly simple to clean. This is done through engine performance restoration (EPR) service. EPR clears your piston rings and hydraulic passageways of the dirt, debris, and build up causing your oil leak. This can stop your excessive oil consumption, improve your vehicle’s performance, save you money on fuel, oil, and subsequent repairs, and improve your energy efficiency. You can read our full guide to engine performance restoration here.
Other Signs of Loose Piston Rings
If your engine oil is rapidly depleting, you could also have an oil leak or another vehicle issue. So how do you know if your piston rings are compromised? Here are some additional signs of dirty piston rings:
- Loss of vehicle power: The poor combustion pressure causes a noticeable loss in vehicle power and performance.
- Thick exhaust: The oil burning in your combustion process will cause thick exhaust clouds—often with distinctly gray, white, or blue hues.
- Poor acceleration: The loss of pressure in your engine will also mean that your vehicle will have a hard time accelerating.
If you are still unsure about whether or not you have piston ring troubles, bring your vehicle to a professional mechanic for in-depth vehicle diagnostics. Once an expert has identified the source of your car troubles, they can work with you to design and implement a repair plan.
Chapel Hill Tire: Car Care Near Me
When you are due for an engine performance restoration—or any other maintenance flush—visit the experts at Chapel Hill Tire. We offer transparent pricing, coupons, deals, discounts, and promotions to make your local car services as affordable as possible. Chapel Hill Tire also supports our community with convenience services, including vehicle pick-up/delivery, curbside service, text updates, shuttle service, pay-by-text, and other customer-centric services supported by our values. You can make your appointment here online to get started! You can also call one of our nine Triangle area locations throughout Raleigh, Durham, Apex, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill to learn more today!