When Does Your Car Need an Oil Change? – Oil Life

What is ‘oil life’? Oil life refers to how long motor oil can effectively protect your car’s engine before it needs to be replaced. There is no ‘Oil Expiration Date’ in the traditional sense (new oil can be stored for years without affecting the quality) – oil life refers to the normal process of oil breaking down and becoming less effective after many miles or months of duty in your motor. Oil wears out due to the extreme heat of your engine, and from oxidation as it comes into contact with moisture and air in the atmosphere. There are also additives in motor oil that help clean and flush dirt, soot, and metal particles away from your engine’s mechanical parts. These additives are consumed over the life of the oil and therefore stop doing their jobs – picture dish soap on a sponge that gets used up after washing a bunch of pots. As many motor oil additives are actually detergents, it’s a similar idea. All together, these factors cause old oil to become thicker, dirtier, and more viscous (aka “sludge”) so it doesn’t flow through your engine and lubricate the moving parts as easily.

A full synthetic oil change will allow you to go longer (5,000, 7,500, or even 10,000+ miles) before your next service than a conventional oil change (3,000 miles). That’s because synthetic motor oil is manufactured to have a very controlled and uniform chemical makeup with more predictable performance than conventional oil. You can think of synthetic oil as built from the ground up of specific components, while conventional oil is refined down from naturally-occurring crude oil into motor oil by eliminating unwanted impurities. Synthetic oil holds up better to heat, moisture, and air exposure.

Driving habits play the largest role in determining how often you need to change your oil. You may see maintenance intervals noted as “every 5,000 or six months”. The reason for this is that with frequent short trips, you may be putting fewer miles on your car but you’re actually operating it more often in the most high-wear condition: while your oil is still heating up. Engine oil protects best once it is up to full temperature and can flow more freely in the engine. On a related note, frequent cold starts in the winter or many short trips will compromise how long your oil lasts (not to mention your fuel efficiency). Oil will also last more miles if your driving is gentle highway cruising than if you’re frequently accelerating, pulling heavy loads, or doing anything that taxes your engine.

If oil protects your engine, is it better to get it changed more often? Changing your oil earlier than needed is unnecessary, plus harder on your wallet and the environment. Modern engines are designed to last hundreds of thousands of miles with the proper care; the oil change interval recommended by your car manufacturer ensures oil is replaced before it has ceased protecting the engine. So, as long as you keep up with regular oil changes and aren’t putting your vehicle through specific severe duties, going shorter than the recommended interval isn’t worthwhile. Many modern engines are built to go 5,000-10,000 miles between oil changes through improved engineering and synthetic oil — if your car calls for a 5,000 mile interval and your mechanic recommends changing oil every 3,000 miles “just to be safe,” he is trying to sell you unnecessary services and you should go elsewhere. Many modern cars can calculate your remaining oil life based on your mileage and driving habits to give you a completely customized maintenance recommendation. These systems are a helpful tool to compare with the standard mileage and time intervals to make an informed decision about when to get your oil changed.

For synthetic oil change in New Jersey, Nomad offers convenient at-home service with easy reservations right from your smartphone. If you have questions about getting your oil changed in NJ, or about the oil life in your car, you can speak with a knowledgeable Nomad representative at 973.744.7069.

Knowing when it’s time for a tire rotation.

In Bergen County, car maintenance is part of life because so many drivers in Northern New Jersey rely on their cars daily. No doubt you’ve been offered a tire rotation when you take your car in for a routine maintenance or oil change. How do you know if it’s time for a tire rotation?

Nomad Oil - Tire Rotation Illustration

Engines, styling, in-car technology, and even “French-stitched Napa leather” (I’m not sure exactly what that is) get all the attention when it comes to cars. However the unsung heroes that give your car many of its abilities are your tires. They grip a variety of road surfaces in a variable weather conditions, even at high speed, and also act as part of your car’s suspension by soaking up bumps. Tires themselves are multi-layered devices molded from sophisticated rubber compounds and highly-tested tread patterns depending on their purpose. When you think about all that tires do, they’re pretty amazing . . . Which is why they’re expensive.

Long live the tire

Tires are wear-and-tear items. That means they have a useful life, and tires are expected to gradually wear down until they need to be replaced. The catch is, some tires on your car wear faster than others. Front tires typically wear faster than rear tires because they do the steering, support the weight of the engine, and most often transmit power to the ground too. In order to get the most out of your investment, you want to spread the wear around. Tire Rotation helps your tires wear evenly, so all 4 tires get a more similar lifespan. Tires have a hard life in New Jersey, so if you’re a driver in Bergen County, tire rotation will help your set of tires and your car last longer.

Aren’t my tires always rotating?

The definition of “tire rotation” is a bit different than what it sounds like: tire rotation refers to switching the location of the tires on the car. There is no actual spinning/rotation involved and the tires (the rubber part) actually stay on your rim (the metal part). Each wheel is relocated to another corner of the car; think of it like musical chairs for your car’s wheels.

How a tire rotation works.

Your car is elevated off the ground, and then the wheels are unbolted from the car’s axles and bolted back on in a different spot. The most common type of rotation simply swaps your car’s front and back wheels. If a tire is wearing unevenly, your technician may swap front and back AND change which side the tires are on. Some cars only swap side-to-side, and some only front-to-back, due to specialized wheel and tire designs.

When is it time for a tire rotation?

Tread Wear Indicator or Wear Bar - Nomad OilIf your more-worn tires are on the front wheels, it’s safe to say it’s time for a rotation because the front tires typically wear down faster and play a more active role in safety and handling. In other words, a tire rotation will leave you with the freshest rubber on the most important wheels. Many technicians use a 5,000 mile rule of thumb for tire rotations, although depending on driving habits your interval could be longer or shorter. Nomad offers mobile tire rotation in New Jersey, and we recommend it (or don’t) for our clients based on inspecting the tires, so we aren’t promoting unnecessary service.

Other tire wear to look out for

If a tire is under-inflated or over-inflated, the sides or center of the tread will wear out faster. It also won’t grip the road in the way it was designed to; think about trying to roll a flat soccer ball. That’s why we check and correct tire inflation – for free – at every mobile oil change we deliver.

Also, if your car is out of alignment – the wheels aren’t rolling completely straight on the road – the asymmetrical friction on the ground can create lopsided wear on one side of a tire. Rotation can help spread out and delay the effects of this wear, but to prevent it you will need to get your car’s wheels aligned. An alignment is more economical than prematurely replacing a set of tires.





Why Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure is Important

Many drivers are wizards at using automotive infotainment, whether it’s streaming music, making hands-free calls, or receiving navigational instructions through their speakers. But what about tires? It’s ironic that some very tech-savvy drivers haven’t a clue about performing this car maintenance task, along with other basic skills.


Start With the Right Tool

First, it’s a mistake to rely on the car’s automatic tire pressure sensor solely. Tires lose about one pound per square inch (PSI) per month and one PSI per 10 degrees of outside temperature change. Fluctuations happen fast. Tire pressure monitoring systems don’t trigger until a tire loses 20% of its air pressure, which is why it’s important to check tire pressure every 30 days. To determine PSI levels, visit any auto parts store and buy a tire pressure “pencil” gauge. It’s inexpensive but accurate. Unscrew the tire’s valve cap, place the gauge’s corresponding fitting on the stem and press. A small post pops out the rear with numbers on it. Where it stops is the correct tire pressure. Repeat this action for the remaining tires, then add air if needed.


How Much Air to Add?

Knowing this is critical car maintenance. Most vehicles have an optimal tire pressure label on the driver or passenger-side door frame. Don’t go by the number on the tire’s sidewall. That’s the maximum pressure the tire can handle. Bad things may happen if inflated that high. However, don’t underinflate tires either. They will wear quickly and lose their tread, resulting in compromised steering and stopping ability.

The doorframe label usually has two numbers, one for both front and rear tires. It may read 32 PSI front; 34 PSI rear, depending on the vehicle. While repeatedly checking the tire pressure gauge, pump air into the tire until its readout matches the label number. Avoid the urge to overinflate. Many think a few extra pounds of air is a safe practice, but overinflated tires can suddenly blow out at high speed and temperature, putting the driver and others in peril. Follow the recommended PSI numbers precisely.


The Importance of Keeping Tires Properly Inflated 

Properly inflated tires can lead to better road performance and fuel economy. A tire that is underinflated will wear through its tread more quickly and burn through fuel quicker. The driver who drives on under-inflated tires uses about 144 extra gallons of gasoline, equating to an extra 300-500 dollars spent a year. For each gallon of gasoline burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are added to the atmosphere. In addition to saving fuel and reducing emissions, properly inflated tires are safer on the highway—an under-inflated tire takes longer to stop and is more prone to skidding in wet conditions. 

For our friends in North New Jersey, fill out this online booking form, and we can check your tire pressure for you while servicing your car—right from your driveway. 



Preventive Maintenance the Right Way

Preventive car maintenance is perhaps the most important part of owning a vehicle. Like humans, cars need regular checkups and maintenance to avoid serious problems. An owner’s manual is the best place to begin when it comes to knowing precisely what a particular vehicle needs. Here are some tips to ensure that nothing slips by unnoticed.

The Oil Question

Vehicle oil change intervals vary from one manufacturer to the next. The old standard used to be every 3,000 miles, but times have changed. Some cars can now go up to 15,000 miles between oil changes! Changing oil on time is critical, but changing it too often has some oft-overlooked drawbacks. Oil is a non-renewable resource, and drivers who blindly follow the 3,000 mile rule might be changing their oil two or three times more often than the car really needs. This will result in two or three times the necessary financial cost and environmental impact. Adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations will prevent unnecessary waste and expense. 

Tires, Gas Mileage, and More

Preventive car maintenance is not only important for keeping the vehicle running; it is also about saving money and extending the car’s life. Since fuel is the most persistent expense with a vehicle, it is good to know ways to optimize fuel efficiency. Maintaining proper tire pressure can add up to real savings over time. It will extend the life of the tires and keep gas mileage at the highest level. Pressure should be checked a few times per month and once per week during the cold monthsTire rotation will also extend the life of the tires. Other gas savers include clean air and oil filters, good spark plugs, and even an occasional fuel injector cleaning agent. Again, the car’s manual will list the proper intervals for these items to be changed.

Whether it’s DIY or trusted to a professional, preventive car maintenance will keep a vehicle running smoothly for many years. 

Four Steps to Prolong The Life of A 100,000-Mile Car

With proper car maintenance, just about any vehicle can run well past the 100,000-mile mark. Scheduled servicing, oil and fluid changes, and safe driving practices all help extend the lifespan of any car. Read on for these and other car maintenance tips to keep a vehicle on the road well past 100,000 miles.

Mind the Manual

To learn just what kind of service a particular vehicle needs, the process is simple: just read the manual. All vehicles have detailed service recommendations and maintenance schedules in their manuals, and most newer car models provide automatic service reminders based on mileage or driving habits. Following the recommended service intervals for any particular vehicle will greatly help to increase its longevity.

Don’t Forget Fluids

Keeping up with the proper levels and types of oil, gas, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, and power steering fluid is essential in prolonging the life of any vehicle. These liquids are vital to your car’s reliability because they lubricate, move, and cool the moving parts in its various systems. A trusted auto care provider will ensure your vehicle’s fluids are doing their job as your odometer ticks toward – and past – the 100,000-mile mark.

Shop for Service

After reading your car’s manual and getting familiar with its unique car maintenance needs, the next step is to find a service provider you can trust. A good mechanic can help provide the services a car needs to stay on the road year after year. Some service providers offer mobile oil and fluid services, adding extra convenience for car owners. Shop around for a mechanic or shop with strong online reviews, or trust word of mouth from your friends and family that have had good experiences with their service providers.

Drive for Endurance

Keeping a high-mileage car on the road is all about proper care. That applies to how you operate it, too. Highway miles at safe speeds put less wear and tear on a vehicle than city driving because steady cruising puts less stress on components. You can minimize the impact of the miles you drive by driving smoothly and avoiding brisk acceleration. When driving, it is important to be mindful of the ways in which certain habits may affect your car. To learn more, visit a local car maintenance provider.

Three Signs That a Car Needs New Brakes

When it comes to replacing brakes on a car, it is not always evident when repairs are needed. Regular seasonal car maintenance can help owners keep up with normal wear and tear, but here are a few signs to look for as well.

A High-Pitched Squeal

Sometimes you can tell that the car needs new brakes simply by listening. The braking system can have a loud, high-pitched squeal when the brake pads need to be replaced. Many brakes are designed to make this noise to help notify the owner it is time for brake pad replacement. If there is also a loud grinding sound, that means a technician should see the car as soon as possible. At this point, the pads have worn down completely and metal is grinding against the rotors, and the repairs will go beyond brake pad replacement. This is costlier in the long run.

Vibration When Pedals Are Applied

If the brake pedals are being applied and the driver detects vibration, then it is best to schedule car maintenance and have the brake pads examined. Brake pads should not give off a vibrating motion when they are being applied – a well-maintained braking system slows the car smoothly and evenly. This can occur when the car is braked quickly and frequently, but there may be other underlying issues as well.

Brakes That Need to Have a Great Deal of Pressure to Work

Ideally, brakes should not have to be pressed all the way to the floor in order for the car to stop. When the brake pads are worn down all the way, they might only respond to this amount of pressure. In this case, it is best to have car maintenance as soon as possible, so the brakes continue to stop the car predictably, safely, and reliably.

No matter what the case might be, if drivers find their brakes are not working as well as they once were, it is best to go to the mechanic right away. Simple tasks such as replacing brakes or changing oil should be done routinely. This way your vehicle will continue operating smoothly before costly or dangerous problems arise.