Disclaimer: I recommend both body waxing and vehicle maintenance be performed by a professional technician with the proper tools and knowledge to perform the services as efficiently (and painlessly) as possible!
While I don’t personally advocate it, let’s talk home hair removal. Many home wax kits contain sticky strips that are meant to be rubbed vigorously on the target area to build heat and soften the wax with friction. Then RRRRrrrriiiiiiiiippp! If all goes well – and depending on your skill level – you’re left with smooth, low-maintenance gams. While the main function of wax is to remove unwanted hair (although it may have some moisturizing additives, etc.), it also allows you to go longer between, ahem, service intervals.
The main job of engine oil is to create a lubrication barrier between moving engine parts – similar to the way wax creates a thin layer between your skin and the fabric tear-away strip. Like leg wax, the viscosity (or, as I like to call it, the ‘goop’ factor) of engine oil varies depending on its temperature. Both leg waxes and engine oils thin as they get hot and thicken as they cool. Enter the brilliant engineers who figuratively threw the laws of science out the window and developed additives to modify engine oil so it flows well at cold temperatures but still maintains an excellent protective barrier at extremely high temperatures.
Is this why engine oil bottles display 2 numbers on the label to describe the formula? Yes! Let’s look at 10w40 engine oil. The first number is how easily the oil will flow when cold, or when you first engage the vehicle engine. The lower the number, the lower the viscosity…and good flow at startup means less stress & wear on the engine. FYI, the “W” stands for winter and not weight. The “W” indicates it is a suitable engine oil for winter weather or extremely cold climates. The second number, 40, is the oil’s ‘goop’ factor at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius), the industry standard for ‘normal operating temperature’ engine oil tests.
Our laboratory friends didn’t stop at simply modifying conventional engine oil – they also developed synthetic (human-made) oils that can lubricate, clean, and flow even more effectively through an engine. Synthetic oil is generally required for use in high-performance engines (like the hand-built AMG engine in your new Mercedes-Benz). The protective properties of synthetic oil increases performance to a level more commensurate for high-performance engines than conventional oil. Circling back to the leg wax metaphor, the use of synthetic engine oil also allows for longer intervals between services!
BUT…there are some variables to keep in mind:
The effectiveness of both products directly relates to HOW you’re using them. So be sure to use the products as directed on the box or in your owner’s manual! If you use tiny wax removal strips (not necessarily your fault, they were the leftovers in the package and you didn’t want to toss them) on your legs, you may get the job done but you’ll waste a whole bunch of wax strips and have to run back to the store more frequently to re-stock. Additionally, if leg wax isn’t warmed as indicated on the box for application, it will be less efficient at removing hair.
The same two points can loosely be made about engine oil. It’s important to keep an eye on the engine temperature gauge in your vehicle’s instrument cluster. The engine temperature gauge let’s you know how hot the engine is at any moment while you’re operating the vehicle. The engine (and engine oil) will work most efficiently during sustained driving in its normal operating*** temperature range which, depending on your vehicle make and model, may be anywhere from the 1/2 marker up to the 3/4 point on the gauge.
Have you ever heard the term ‘severe driving habits?’ One severe habit is the chronic operation of a vehicle for short trips. This means that the car is being ‘cold started’ frequently, yet the engine infrequently reaches its normal operating temperature. Nor does it stay there for an extended period of time – which many engines require to be efficient. Specifically at low engine temperatures, elevated amounts of un-burned fuel, acidic gases and excess water that didn’t get hot enough to vaporize and exit through the exhaust may also be deposited in the engine – potentially increasing oil consumption and corrosion. While the base oil won’t wear out, the protective oil additives may need to be replaced sooner. Please note that many vehicle manufacturers do include recommended or required maintenance intervals for Severe Operating Conditions.
Both leg wax and engine oil have ‘use by’ dates to guarantee effectiveness. Does the company that produces your leg wax know for sure the exact date when it will suddenly stop working? Nope. But there are a lot of variables that can degrade the effectiveness of leg wax and engine oil. Most automakers require the replacement of engine oil due to time OR due to mileage, whichever comes first. For quality control and warranty purposes, manufacturers set ‘use by’ parameters so that they can guarantee uncompromised products we will love…or perhaps love to hate? RRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiipp! OUCH!
— Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave questions in the comments section and I’ll respond as quickly as possible.
Coming Soon: Brake Fluid is Kinda like a Margarita on the Rocks with Salt…
*** If you’re a Mercedes-Benz owner please keep in mind that the engine temperature gauge reads in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. It’s a normal vehicle characteristic for the temperature reading in the instrument cluster to show above the halfway point on your Mercedes-Benz.