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What Does an Oil Change Do? How Engine Oil Works

When your oil service is nearly over and a Kal Tire team member slaps that reminder tag onto your windshield, you might wonder, what does an oil change do, anyway? Do I really need oil changes every 5,000 kilometres?

Oil changes, for the record, are one of the simplest and most important vehicle maintenance steps you can take to ensure the performance and lifespan of your vehicle.

Why? Imagine your car’s oil as the lifeblood of an engine. Much like the blood and heart of the human body, engine oil plays a vital role in keeping your engine ticking.

It’s a journey that can take as little as five seconds, and happens in four steps:

1. Oil is pumped up from the sump reservoir
2. Oil travels across the entire engine through a circuit
3. Oil travels to the oil filter and deposits harmful particles
4. Clean oil is sent to all the engine’s components

Here’s a cool video that illustrates how car engine oil works:

So, now that your oil has made that ‘journey’ how has it helped your vehicle?

The function of oil


Clean the engine

Engine oil acts like a river, carrying harmful particles (ie dirt and debris) to the oil filter and away from the engine, protecting its vital components.

Cool the engine

Engine oil acts like a coolant to ensure the engine’s components don’t overheat.

Lubricate the engine

As a lubricant, oil protects the moving parts of an engine so you don’t have hot metal parts grinding against each other, resulting in an engine seizure.

When your oil is clean rather than contaminated, it has a better chance of doing its job: protecting the engine and preventing damage so it can perform better and last longer. You can get regular oil services for a small fee and an hour or so of your time, or you can put your engine at risk of seizure or other pricey repairs. We like to say oil changes are cheap insurance.

So, how often do you need to change your oil so it can do its job best?


While modern engines, synthetic oil and even fuel are now all designed to do their jobs better, often extending the traditional service change schedule of 5,000 kilometres or every five months (whichever comes first) to as long as 12,000 kilometres, the best guide is your owner’s manual.

Your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended oil change schedule is usually determined by the rotations of the engine, the heat capacity of the engine, and the recommended fuel’s capabilities, so every vehicle will be unique. It’s also best to follow OE (original equipment) suggested intervals to ensure warranty coverage should an incident occur that qualifies for coverage.

Are you in the market for an oil change? Kal Tire does more than oil changes; we do oil services—with certified technicians installing premium oil such as Pennzoil and a premium filter. In Addition they’ll performing a free True Service Inspection so you leave with a report card on the condition of your vehicle and its key components for added peace of mind.

Call or visit one of our Kal Tire locations near you! #TalkToKal