How Does Oil Lubricate an Engine?

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Surely you know that oil is important for your engine, but perhaps you don’t know why. After fuel, engine oil is the most essential fluid in your vehicle, and without it you wouldn’t get far. The main purpose of oil is to lubricate and cool the components in your engine. Between combustion and friction, engines generate a lot of heat, and oil helps to keep things moving and prevent overheating. Given how vital oil is, it’s important to understand how it works, and why you should never ignore an oil leak or Check Oil Light.

Starting up

Engines generally hold between four and eight quarts of oil depending on their size and type. When your car is turned off, oil collects in the oil pan (also known as the sump), usually situated at the bottom of the engine. As soon as the engine roars to life, the oil pump begins to work, first moving the oil through the oil filter, which strains the oil to remove contaminants and particles which can damage engine components.

After the oil filter, the oil flows through galleries running throughout the engine. Galleries are the tubes, channels, and pipelines that ensure oil is delivered to all necessary components. The crankshaft and bearings are doused in oil and have galleries running through them, keeping them cool as they spin rapidly. Spurt holes spray oil on the undersides of the pistons, helping control combustion temperatures and reducing friction as they move up and down in the cylinders. Oil also lubricates the camshaft, valves, and valve springs to keep them moving freely.

Gravity and the continuous flow generated by the oil pump keeps oil moving throughout the engine. After oil has circulated through the engine, it’s sucked through other galleries back into the oil pan, where it again passes through the oil filter and starts the cycle anew.

Wet vs. dry sumps

Most cars use a wet sump, but some have a dry sump. A wet sump is where the oil pan sits at the bottom of the engine, and a single oil pump works to move oil through the galleries. A dry sump has an oil reservoir located elsewhere (specifically not at the bottom of the engine), and uses at least two oil pumps to keep oil circulating. There’s more flexibility to the design of the pan when it is located elsewhere; however this system is more complex and expensive to design and build. Dry sump systems are often found in performance cars, as they offer certain benefits for engines that frequently run near the redline or under high cornering loads.

There’s a risk of damage if your engine is leaking or burning oil. A low oil level condition means there might not be enough oil to sufficiently lubricate all the parts, making them wear out faster and overheat from friction. Old, dirty oil also won’t flow as well through the galleries and can leave sludge on parts, so it’s important to get an oil change every 3,000 to 7,000 miles. A certified mobile technician from YourMechanic can change your oil at your location using high-quality Castrol oil.


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Recent Brake Pad Replacement reviews

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YourMechanic Brake Pad Replacement Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

11,311

Rating Summary
10,790
333
68
34
86
10,790
333
68
34
86

Jason

31 years of experience
148 reviews
Jason
31 years of experience
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Surprise, Arizona
Needed new brake pads on my Land Rover-and booked through “your mechanic”- this was my second time using this service and I have to say- these guys are awesome- Today, Jason came out to my work place- and completed the work quickly. Thank you!!
Honda Accord - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Phoenix, Arizona
Jason was on time, self motivated, well educated in his craft, and very helpful. I am fully sold on your method of using the home service. Jason helped by creating a safer ride for my wife, saving me time, and saving money for my family. I will be a client forever. Dennis Laycock

Lee

18 years of experience
105 reviews
Lee
18 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Richmond, Virginia
Lee was professional and knowledgeable. The job did not take long he was a little late but like I said professional because he let know that he was running late. LEE IS AWESOME!!!!!!

Willie

23 years of experience
23 reviews
Willie
23 years of experience
Jeep Compass - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - North Hollywood, California
I made an appointment to have my brake rotors/disc replaced. On the day I scheduled my car services- it ended up raining. Willie checked in, moved my appointment, and continued to communicate through out the day until he was able to come work on my car. He took great car to make the repairs ANNNDDD SAVED ME MONEY by only doing what was necessary (only one of the rotors needed replacing). A blessing.

Honorio

18 years of experience
782 reviews
Honorio
18 years of experience
Saturn Vue - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Sunnyvale, California
This was our second appointment to service our Honda and Saturn with Honorio and we will continue to do so in the future. We highly recommend Honorio.

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