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What Is An Engine Flush & Do I Need It?

Oil changes between 3,000 and 7,000 miles are pretty standard in most vehicles today. There are two types of vehicle owners; one type dutifully has their oil changed on schedule while the other kind of vehicle owners have their oil changed more sporadically or neglect to do so at all. What kind of vehicle owner are you? If you said the latter, you can probably expect to need an engine flush to prevent or clean the sludge build up from broken down oil.

Why Do I Need an Engine Flush?

If you seldom have your oil changed, do a lot of stop-and-go driving, or have a vehicle that is inactive for months at a time, your car is at risk for sludge buildup. Engine oil is meant to cycle through the engine to lubricate components to help keep them in good working order. Sometimes, however, the way a person drives can impede the oil from doing the job it’s meant to do. For example, short trips of only a few miles and lots of stop-and-go driving can cause particles in the oil to leave deposits in the engine, which builds up over time, restricting the flow of oil. However, there are steps you can take to rid the engine of harmful sludge. Neglecting your engine from oil changes to flushes could be a costly mistake, forcing a replacement of the engine entirely.

Oil filters remove elements as small as 25 microns (about 1/1000th of an inch) yet, there are particles within the oil that are even smaller that even the best filter is unable to filter out. After time, these tiny particles cause wear or bond together and create sludge or deposits. If these particles become excessive, clean oil is virtually useless in removing them. However, the chemicals used for an engine flush can.

How is an Engine Flush Done?

An engine flush is basically the process of a technician placing chemicals in the engine oil to break down sludge or carbon deposits from old oil. There are three different methods that your technician will determine is best in performing your engine flush.

  1. A small amount of oil is removed from the engine and a non-solvent flush additive chemical, designed to break up carbon deposits in the engine, is added to the system. Then, the car is taken for a test drive to work the chemical throughout the engine. As the deposits are loosened, they become suspended in the oil and trapped in the filter. Lastly, the vehicle receives an oil change with a new filter, thus, removing dirt and gunk.
  2. A small amount of oil is removed from the engine and then the non-solvent flush additive chemical is added, then the vehicle is idled for 5-10 minutes without being driven. This allows the chemical solution to circulate through the engine and break down any sludge and suspend it within the oil filter. Finally, the oil is changed along with the filter. Any sludge within the engine is removed with the spent oil.
  3. Oil is drained out of the vehicle, as with any oil change service, and clean oil that contains a non-solvent chemical formation is added to the vehicle. Next, the engine is either driven or allowed to idle to ensure the cleaning agent reaches every area within the engine that oil would. Lastly, they change the oil and filter ensuring the vehicle is back to its normal condition.

Benefits to Getting an Engine Flush

While preventing or alleviating the harmful effects of sludge is the number one reason to have an engine flush performed, there are other benefits to having this service done. For example, if your car has experienced a head gasket leak where the coolant has seeped into the crankcase and has mixed with the oil, it is important that this is cleaned out thoroughly, thus an engine flush would be necessary.

Additionally, if you have recently purchased a pre-owned vehicle with virtually no record of maintenance, an engine flush followed by an oil change of fresh oil may prevent a costly repair later on. In contrast, cars that have had recent internal engine repairs would benefit from a flush. As the chemicals will help to clean out any leftover particulates before new oil is added.

Last of all, cars that have a long interval between oil changes would benefit from an engine flush. As oil gets dirtier, there’s a likelihood that carbons and other particles build up in the engine. Any time you perform any sort of maintenance on your vehicle, especially where oil is present, a flush will help to extend the life of the vehicle.

Imagine an engine flush as giving your engine a fresh start. Second chances don’t come along often, so take the opportunity to start maintaining your vehicle regularly. This includes but is not limited to getting oil changes on schedule as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Keep your car on the road and avoid costly repairs by performing routine maintenance. Your car and your wallet will thank you!