Your car is a machine designed to run for a very long time, but it is not a self contained unit. You have to provide it with some simple help. If you do nothing else, the one maintenance step you have to take is to change the oil on your vehicle as called out by the manufacturer.

Changing the oil in your car is such a mindless task that many people procrastinate or just put it off. I am loathe to admit this, but I didn’t change the oil on my first car, a beater Toyota pickup, for 50,000 miles. I just didn’t know I was supposed to. It is the measure of the old Toyota pickup engines that it didn’t freeze up, but I did untold damage to it. If only I had changed the oil regularly the truck would have run forever, particularly with an older Toyota.

Oil is critical because it is such an amazing fossil fuel. Think about it. Oil creates lubrication between the moving parts of your engine. The revolutions your engine is turning are measured in thousands per minute. That is with metal parts rubbing against each other. That creates a lot of friction, heat and wear. The fact the average engine doesn’t freeze up after only 100 miles is practically a mechanical miracle and oil is the magic substance.

Oil obviously provides lubrication to the engine, but it does much more. It also removes the small debris that inherently gets into the engine block by circulating it out and through the oil filter. Engine sludge is a popular subject these days and most oils are now tailored to prevent it. Oil also moves heat out of the engine in combination with the cooling system. All and all, that is pretty impressive.

Oil may be amazing, but it is not infallible. It will not last forever. It can fail under heat pressure and the oil filter can become clogged with gunk. Fortunately, you only have to take one simple task to prevent this – change the oil and oil filter. You don’t need to do it every 3,000 miles as called out by the marketing team of the lube shops. Instead, crack open the owner’s manual and see what your manufacturer is recommending. You’ll often find it can be done every 5,000 miles or so.

Changing your oil is also a fairly simple process. You only need oil, an oil filter, a container for the old oil and an oil filter wrench to remove your old filter. It helps to have something to put the car up on so you get under it. Regardless, the process should take no more than 15 to 25 minutes.

Put another way, you need to spend less than a half an hour every six months or so to keep your engine turning over for hundreds of thousands of miles. It certainly seems worth the effort don’t you think?

Dirk Gibson writes car oil articles for DCJAutoParts.com – where you can buy high performance auto parts for your vehicle.