Motorists have been warned about making false economies when it comes to lubricating their car engines by ExxonMobil and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

They say that some drivers are buying the cheapest engine oil – or trying to save money by delaying routine maintenance – but they could end up paying more in the long term.

A new study of 1,000 UK drivers conducted on behalf of Mobil 1 engine oil has revealed that over two-thirds (65%) of respondents admitted to buying engine oil on price alone. The same number again (64.9%) said the oil hadn’t been changed in their car in the last 12 months, and a further 29% didn’t know whether it had or not.

The research also revealed that less than half (45%) of motorists were aware of their car’s manufacturer-recommended oil service intervals, and 15% said they will be trying to cut back on car maintenance and servicing in order to save money in the tough economic climate.

Commenting on the study’s findings, Dan McGoldrick, field marketing UK, Nordic and Benelux for ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants, makers of Mobil 1, said: “It is vital that drivers don’t just buy on price alone, as doing so could lead to major repair bills in the future.

“Choosing the right oil for your engine means that both the lubricant and the engine itself will last longer, so you’re saving in the long run. Mobil 1 is designed to help provide exceptional cleaning power, wear protection and has the potential to improve fuel economy and save consumers money in the years ahead.”

Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy at the IAM, added: “Apart from lubricating the engine, oil has the important job of absorbing harmful by-products given off by the burning fuel. Changing the oil gets rid of these waste products, but if an oil change is missed, the oil gets saturated and cannot absorb any more, so the by-products start to damage the engine, forming sludge to block the oil passageways and increasing engine wear by eating away at the metal.

“Oil change intervals can be anything up to 20,000 miles, the equivalent of driving from London to Sydney and back. Neglecting an oil change after such huge distances might save a few pounds in the short term, but the increased wear and lack of protection from worn out oil will knock mile after mile off the engine’s life and pound after pound off the car’s value.”