Putting the Brakes on Engine Wear: How Slower Driving Will Impact Oil Analysis

The Need for Speed Limit

Attention all motorists of Wales! As of this September 17th, a new 20mph speed limit is going into effect on many roads. While lower speeds can improve safety, what does this mean for your engine’s health? Let’s take a look under the hood…

The Hidden Risks of Low Speed Lovin’

When an engine runs at lower RPMs, components like pistons, valves, and bearings are under less stress. This is good news for longevity!

However, increased idling puts it own strains on your engines health. It also reduces operating temperatures, so moisture doesn’t evaporate as effectively. Cold oil doesn’t flow as well either.

More idling plus more moisture equals higher rates of corrosion, sludge, and deposit formation. Not so good for your engine! This moisture risk is especially concerning for hybrids, as their engines never reach full operating temperature for long periods.

So what are the risks to your vehicle with the new slower speeds?

If you are driving in Wales it’s not just a speeding fine you need to worry about your car picking up, but engines are designed with a sweet spot for peak efficiency. Traditionally this is about 55 miles an hour which is why the USA roads introduced the speed limit back in the 1970s, however higher and lower speeds are ok, but generally speeds of under 20 miles per hour have assumed are not the vast amount of your driving and generally for housing estates, car parks etc. If you have a good mix of driving speed areas there is nothing to worry about, but if now in Wales you are driving predominantly under 20 miles per hour and even the 40 limits being reduced to 30 is in consultation with the Welsh government your average speed will be lower for your vehicle. This introduces its own problems for your vehicle. Not only for petrol and diesel engines either as the electric vehicle owners feeling smug right now at not having a diesel or petrol engine, these also have risks for electric vehicles as transmissions and lubricated parts still suffer the same risks as combustion engines. These are:

  • Moisture and condensation build up – this is already an issue for hybrid engines or engines with stop / start settings meaning the engine never reaches optimum temperatures about 90’c+ allowing condensation to evaporate and boil off. This means moisture is a big risk in these engines as already mentioned.
  • Insufficient Lubrication – when the rotation speeds of components with hydrodynamic lubrication are not sufficiently high enough or the oil pressure is not sufficient for full hydrostatic lubrication there is a risk of increased sliding wear within the lubricated component which can reduce component life and ultimately cause failures. This can also apply with the faster accelerations seen in lower gears and damage transmissions.
  • Carbon build up in particulate filters – not an issue for electric vehicles, but for hybrids and any petrol or diesel engine with a particulate filter the engine management systems cannot regenerate at such low engine speeds and gears. For example on my mild hybrid driving back at 20mph for a test today the required combination of minimum 3rd gear and revs was never reached once. So even with the “keep driving” message you can see when your engine needs to regen, you would need to go onto faster speed roads for a long period to truly regenerate the system. I personally predict this will be a big issue for vehicle dealers in Wales over the next year or two.

Fight Back with Oil Analysis

Now before you think your car is going to imminently fail and it’s a dreadful thing the 20mph speed limit I did see an interesting fact:

In the time you can brake from 20 to 0 a car travelling at 30 wouldn’t have reached 20.”

Welsh government pamphlet

So there are the natural safety benefits, however, environmentally the benefits are minimal as very low speeds generally mean poorer fuel economy, incomplete combustion and higher pollution. That is on top of the wear issues highlighted.

Without getting into the politics of whether the new rules have true benefits, it’s now the law and those in or visiting Wales need to abide to the new speed. Hence, to keep your motor humming happily at lower speeds, be extra diligent about regular oil changes. And consider adding oil analysis to your maintenance routine!

Oil analysis provides an early warning system for impending engine issues. It can detect rising wear metal levels, coolant or fuel dilution, increased viscosity, and inappropriate additive levels. This allows you to proactively address problems before they lead to expensive failures or breakdowns.

With oil analysis, you’ll know exactly when to change your oil for maximum engine protection. Testing also ensures you get the most out of every oil change instead of wasting money on unnecessary changes. Who couldn’t use a little extra cash in the current economy?

Keep On Cruising

Don’t let lower speed limits put the brakes on your engine’s health. Add oil analysis to your maintenance plan today! Reach out and contact us using the contact us button below. Keep your engine running smoothly for years to come!