Some sludge is preventable. Other sludge is unavoidable because of engine defects. In either case, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. Keep a schedule and stick to it. If your manufacturer says change your oil every 3,000 miles – just do it. If you think 3,000 miles is ridiculous, get a different engine.
  2. Don’t just blindly follow that schedule for the life of your engine. If your manufacturer says you only need oil every 5,000 miles, but your mechanic says you nearly ran out of oil before your change, mix it up. Oil change recommendations are based on averages, if you drive like you’re still in high school or in plenty of stop-and-go traffic, try changing it sooner. As your engine gets older and works harder, change it sooner. Yes, it costs more but it costs a lot less than a new engine.
  3. Stop ignorning check engine or change oil lights on your dashboard. Listen, I get it. Life gets crazy – the dog keeps eating shoes, your teenager wants to be in band and ballet, and you have enough work email to last a lifetime. All that is to say, it’s easy to put off a trip to the mechanic. But warning lights are there for a reason and could be your last chance to save the engine.
  4. Ask your mechanic about what oil they use. There are certain synthetic oils that are better equipped to handle extreme temperatures, like say in a turbocharged engine.
  5. Think beyond the oil. When’s the last time you changed your oil filter, eh there champ?

Flush the Engine?

There are plenty of products out there that promise to clean oil deposits in your engine. Sea Foam, for example, is the “proven choice*”

Here’s what Sea Foam claims:

  1. It lubricates moving parts. That can be handy if your oil is gumming up and not lubricating like it once did.
  2. It is “specially formulated” to slowly re-liquify gum, sludge, varnish, and carbon deposits.
  3. It absorbs water and allows it to be burned up in the combustion chamber.
A car driving into the ocean
Taking sea foam a bit too literally

As is the case with anything, it’s always best to ask around and check with your mechanic before blindly throwing anything into your oil or gas tank.

* According to – you guessed it – SeaFoam.

What Else Can I Do?