Ammstar Mercedes-Benz Blog

Are short drives worse for your car? A Mercedes specialist in Melbourne explains!

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Have a trivia night coming up soon? Need some conversation-starters for an upcoming party? We’ve got you covered!

Did you know…

While they may sound completely ridiculous, each of these sentences are actually 100% true!

Here’s another one: did you know that short drives are actually worse for your car than long ones?

“Wait, what?”

It sounds ridiculous, we know. Take it from us however, it’s the truth – if you only use your car occasionally or take it on short drives, you may be inadvertently damaging it.

And our Mercedes specialists in Melbourne are here to explain why!

Why’s that? How short drives can damage your car

The answer is simple: short drives delay the time it takes for your engine to reach operating temperature, which may result in excess wear.

Both petroleum and diesel powered engines alike are designed to operate at specific temperatures – this ensures maximum efficiency while keeping emissions within an acceptable legal range.

While many modern vehicles have several controls in place to assist with getting your engine to operating temperature faster such as decoupling the engine coolant pump or delaying the fuel injection timing, short and more frequent drives expose your engine to more cold starts, more often!

While you may not notice anything in the short term, however a host of symptoms may start to appear after a few years that could result in an expensive repair bill!


Engine oil’s primary job is to keep moving parts inside your engine lubricated. Without it, the friction created by metal components rubbing together would cause them to heat up, wear out or completely seize in just a few short minutes!

Oil Dilution

When your car first starts up, the fuel system is slightly enriched for a variety of reasons. This includes preventing the engine from stalling, a bit like an old fashioned choke – electronically controlled of course!

A negative side effect of this action is the additional fuel ends up mixing with your engine oil in the engine crankcase.

This slightly dilutes the oil with fuel, making it a little less effective and thinner. Repeated cold starts continually add to this resulting in higher oil consumption, which leads to the oil over circulating.

Oil over-circulation

Modern European vehicles have extended oil change intervals – in some cases up to 30,000 kilometres. Imagine the condition of the oil if those 30,000 kilometres were made up of several years of daily trips to the local shops and back (see above).

Even fully synthetic oils break down eventually, and with less oil in the engine the more it circulates, getting used over and over again around the engine.

Premature Engine Wear

High-end brands like Mercedes-Benz in particular are highly engineered. They have been designed for use in a variety of climates and under different conditions.

But what happens when oil dilution and over circulation occur? Quite simply, things will start to wear out.

Here are a few telltale signs to see if your engine is on its last legs…

Blowing smoke

You may not see it, but the people driving behind you will!

A cloud of blue smoke might be an indication your engines piston rings have worn, causing engine oil to enter the combustion chamber. Another indicator might be the panels on the back of the car may be covered in a thin layer of, you guessed it, oil!

Oil Consumption

Even though you may not see smoke there still may be some wear on the aforementioned piston rings, causing an oil warning message to appear on the dash.

Topping up may be a temporary solution, but with reduced oil circulation comes degraded oil which compounds the problem and creates even more engine wear.

The only long-term fix is an oil change – and not just any oil, but one that’s appropriate for your Mercedes-Benz!

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Sludge build-up

For those that like to look under the bonnet, you might notice that with the oil cap removed you might be able to see the upper part of the engine known as the valve train.

An engine that has a sludge build up on top of the valve train is a clear indication that the oil has degraded. In our experience, it can often be too late to recover at this stage.

Even with repeated oil flushing, the sludge and built-up particles can end up blocking an oil gallery (essentially oil supply pipes), giving your engine the automotive equivalent of a heart attack.

A blocked gallery will reduce the flow of engine oil – this can result in bearings or moving parts running dry and seizing up.

Protect your Mercedes by taking it to a Mercedes specialist in Melbourne

As the owner of a Mercedes-Benz, it’s only natural that you look for ways to keep your engine in tip-top condition.

Want to know what you can you do to prevent your engine wearing out too early? Take it to a Mercedes-Benz specialist in Melbourne, that’s how!

We believe the best way to maximise the life of your engine and car is to service it when it is due, by time or kilometres, whichever comes first.

In most cases for drivers doing low kilometres and short trips, that means once per year. This ensures your oil is working as it should – if your engine has any oil leaks, fix them, as a reduction of oil will result in greater circulation.

At Ammstar, we believe that every car with the three-pointed star deserves the very best service, whether it’s your daily driver or if you only ever take it out to grab the groceries once a week.

Our Mercedes specialists in Melbourne don’t just know what they’re talking about – they also speak your language.

Having an oil consumption problem, leaking oil or service display is showing your car is overdue for a service?

Get in touch with Ammstar’s specialist mechanics today:

Alternatively, click here to book an appointment online.

2019-10-23T22:30:30+00:00May 3rd, 2019|News|