Changing the oil in your car is usually a quick and painless procedure when performed at a modern automotive service center. Lubricating oil in your vehicle is critical to its overall health. Why do so many people wait until there is an obvious problem before changing their oil? Good, clean oil improves your car’s performance and extends the life of the engine.
Many drivers rely solely on mileage to determine when their oil needs to be changed, but other factors, such as the quality of the oil, the age of the car, and how the car is driven, also play a role. Fresh, clean oil improves the performance of your vehicle by lubricating parts and keeping the engine clean and healthy. However, the fluid degrades over time and becomes incapable of performing its functions.
When this happens, your car will most likely exhibit at least one of the warning signs listed below, signs your car’s engine oil needs to be changed:
Check engine or oil change warning light.
The car will be the most obvious indicator that there is a problem with your oil. When there is insufficient oil in the system, the oil change light in your vehicle will illuminate, so check the dipstick to see what’s going on. In the worst-case scenario, the check engine light will illuminate. This is your car alerting you that things have deteriorated to the point where the engine is at risk of damage due to faulty parts or a lack of lubrication.
Engine rumble and knocking.
The oil acts as a barrier between engine parts, preventing metal-to-metal brushing and keeping the engine quiet. The engine noise will increase if your oil is not performing properly. In severe cases, you may even hear knocking or rumbling sounds, indicating that your engine is slowly tearing itself apart due to a lack of lubrication.
Dark, soiled oil.
The color of clean oil is amber and it is slightly translucent. As it is used, it fills up with particles collected from the engine and darkens. When this begins, it will not be obvious, so you must be vigilant and check your engine oil at least once a month. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean before replacing it in the oil tank. Now remove it a second time. If the dipstick cannot be seen through the oil, it is time for an oil change.
Inside the car, there is an odor of oil.
If you smell oil inside your car, it could be a sign of an oil leak. If you smell gas or exhaust fumes, your car may be overheating. In either case, you should schedule maintenance right away.
Your car’s tailpipe will always emit some translucent vapor, but if this changes to smoke, it’s time for an engine inspection. There could be faulty engine parts or an oil leak.
If you’ve driven a lot in the last month, think about whether you need an oil change sooner than usual. Each vehicle is unique, but most should have their oil changed every 3,000 miles or every three months. New vehicles typically require an oil change every 6,000 miles or six months. Specific guidelines can be found in your owner’s manual. For older vehicles, consider high-mileage oil.
Change the oil immediately.
Oil changes are simple and inexpensive, and they are one of the most important things you can do to keep your car from premature aging. Having the proper level and quality of oil in your engine will prevent excessive wear and tear, resulting in fewer repairs down the road.