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The oil in my Olds is so clear that I...

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Dear Tom and Ray:



The oil in my 1988 Olds is so clear that I can't read it on the dipstick. I use
5W-30. What can I do to darken it? -- James

TOM: Don't change the oil as often.

RAY: Seriously, James, if your oil is remaining clear, nothing is wrong. It just
means that it's not being given enough time to do its job. When the oil
circulates, it collects dirt, soot, acids, stray pairs of pantyhose and other
"contaminants" in the engine.

TOM: When you change the oil, you flush out all of that stuff. But if you're
changing your oil too often, you're wasting both money and oil (and time, if
you're doing it yourself).

RAY: In the '50s and '60s, fastidious car owners used to change their oil every
500 or 1,000 miles. Now -- due to improvements in oil and the invention of oil
filters -- we recommend waiting a minimum of 5,000 miles. And most manufacturers
recommend changing the oil every 7,500 miles. So, if you're changing the oil
more often than every 5,000 miles, you need to cut back, James, for financial as
well as environmental reasons. And the added benefit will be that the oil will
darken and be easier to see.

TOM: So that's our best guess, James. If you're not changing the oil too often,
then you may be checking windshield washer fluid by accident.

****

If it ain't broke, you won't have to fix it! Order Tom and Ray's pamphlet, "Ten
Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" Send $3 and a stamped
(55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ
08077-6420.

Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper,
or e-mail them by visiting the Car Talk section of cars.com on the World Wide
Web.

?(C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
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