What Happens To My Old Oil After an Oil Change?

September 29th, 2014
oil changes west palm beach flUsed motor oil is some nasty stuff. It’s smelly and dirty, and so hazardous to the environment that a single gallon of motor oil that makes its way to the water supply can pollute a million gallons of water. 
 
At St. Lucie Battery & Tire in Fort Pierce, FL, we’re committed to doing the right thing with waste motor oil, and we thought you might like to know what happens with the stuff after it’s drained from your car’s crankcase. Used oil is contaminated with particles of carbon and metal, as well as chemical by-products from the combustion process. Much of waste motor oil is actually re-refined so that it can be used as a lubricating oil again. 
 
In re-refining, the oil is first dehydrated to remove any traces of water; the water that’s separated out is then treated and released to the environment. The process also yields residual light fuel to actually power the refinery, and ethylene glycol that can be used in recycled antifreeze. A process called vacuum distillation is next, separating the oil into light oil that’s suitable for lubrication and heavier by-products. Residual polymers and chemical compounds are removed from the oil; finally, the remaining oil is separated into light-viscosity lubricants and heavier grease-type materials. 
 
The oil that’s suitable for automotive use is then blended with detergents, friction modifiers, and other additives and tested again for quality and purity before being released for sale. 
 
Of all the motor oil that’s recycled, only about 11 percent actually goes back into base stocks to be used again as motor oil, while the other 89 percent is used as fuel. Re-refining has been done for a long time; it started in WWII when everything was in short supply. 50 years ago, re-refined motor oil had a pretty bad reputation and many drivers would only use it for top-off oil for an old vehicle that was already burning or leaking a lot of oil. Today, the improvements in the process have resulted in a product that rivals virgin motor oil for purity and engine protection. 
 
At St. Lucie Tire & Battery in Fort Pierce, FL, we’re diligent about our responsibilities to the environment, and we’re always sure to take good care of our customers. Time for an oil change for your car? Give us a call, set up an appointment and let us get you back on your way again!
  Tags: auto repair, oil change
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101