There are a ton of reasons why this is important but let us deal with the major ones so you can go about your day quicker, especially if that involves some test-driving! Oil in a car's system is a lot like the blood in a human body in that it cleans by carrying out particles and pollutants that shouldn't be in there. These pollutants prevent the engine from running its smoothest and will not only reduce gas mileage, but as emphasized by our tech consultant at Cerritos Dodge (Cerritos, CA), also lowers the life of the vehicle. Or look at it like this: imagine jogging in place in normal running gear. That is like a car with the right engine oil levels and cleanliness. Now picture doing the same jog in a sleeping bag wearing a wool hat. That is the engine enduring too much heat-creating friction as you bop mercilessly down to the corner store with low or bad oil! Pushed too far, you will be stopped on the side of the road, wishing you had addressed the inexpensive maintenance of an oil change, not the wallet-busting embarrassment of an engine that has literally welded parts of itself together (seizing)! Let's go over some more reasons and best-practices, in case that was not clear enough!
1. Your Manual
This is the basic step so many people skip. Dust that glove-box resident off a bit and find what the automaker says to do, after all, they catered this manual directly to your vehicle. if you go by what your friend advises, or what the shop desires, you may be in for a surprise! The levels, the type of oil, and the frequency are all easily located in the index of the car manual. Look on your windshield for a sticker that has the mileage and usually the date of when the last oil was changed.
Sludge can build up for a multitude of reasons and is a much thicker, almost gel-like substance formed when oil breaks down due to usage. This naturally blocks the good leftover oil from flowing where it needs to get to, so consider switching over completely to synthetic oil if this is occurring in your vehicle. It can occur because of short trips, extreme outdoor temperatures, heavy towing use, type/age of the vehicle, or too long of a period between oil changes.
Besides engine seizing, which is usually not repairable and is always expensive, there are other cost-savings to be had with changing the oil (and oil filter) regularly. Per Kelley Blue Book, car appraisal rises at resale if regular maintenance has been supported, and that includes oil changes. This is because the engine lasts longer than one that hasn't had that statistically, allowing you to charge more of an asking price. Also, fuel consumption goes down with a cleaner (and thus, more efficient) running engine.
Okay, now you are armed with at least a little helpful information, head on down to get your oil changed today!