There’s a running joke amongst car owners and on the Internet how getting an oil change is one of the most important things to maintain a car but it is one of the least things people actually pay attention to. Only bona fide car lovers regularly get their oil changed while others wait until their car requires fixing.
Why Change Motor Oil?
But why change motor oil in the first place? What does motor oil do for a person’s car that makes it such an important aspect requiring regular attention?
Motor oil has two main purposes for the car:
- It lubricates the engine parts – lubricating the engine ensures that there is no excess friction. When the engine parts start rubbing against each other without any lubrication they can overheat and eventually break down.
- It cleanses the engine – the engine is filled with dust particles and other sedimentary dirt that can build up over time. Too much dirt and the engine will fail to work.
After several thousand miles, the motor oil gets thick with dirt and heat. It will no longer be able to properly do its job and this is why the oil needs to be drained and replaced with a new supply. Changing motor oil is a simple means of keeping your engine in tip-top shape.
Is It Expensive?
This will depend greatly on two options: will you change your oil on your own or will you ask the professional mechanics to do it for you?
Changing oil on your own is pretty simple but you will need several tools for the job such as a few wrenches and a car jack. You’ll need to be a bit more acquainted with your vehicle and you need to know what kind of motor oil you vehicle uses.
Some motor oil products are pretty affordable, sometimes going as low as $15 per bottle. Others are more expensive and can cost you $40. You need to know what type and what grade of motor oil you need to buy.
If you’re going to the experts, you can expect to spend a little bit more. Luckily, Firestone, Walmart and even Jiffy Lube prices aren’t that high. You may also want to try domestic auto shops found in your town in case you don’t want to go the bigger companies.
Charges for servicing and oil change can cost from $20 to $70, depending on the motor oil you need. That amount also covers their labor and time doing the job.
How Often Will You have to Change Motor Oil?
There’s a popular myth flying around that you need to change motor oil every 3,000 miles the car has driven. This isn’t accurate at all because each vehicle is vastly different from the next. How each engine type uses motor oil is different.
One car could drive 10,000 miles before it needs an oil change while another car might need servicing only after a meager 4,000 miles on the road. Luckily, you don’t have to guess. The manual your vehicle comes with tells you exactly when your car needs servicing.
Other than that, there are a few signs and symptoms to let you know if you need to drive in for an oil change or if you can still kick in a few miles.
Signs and Symptoms That It’s Time for Servicing
How can you tell that your car needs an oil change? The first way to tell is to pop your car hood open, open the oil filler cap, and visually inspect what the oil is like. Clean oil is amber or yellow-brown in color and it should be very slippery to the touch.
When the oil is dark, murky, and looks like it’s filled with all sorts of dirt then you will need to get it changed. This especially applies when you’ve been driving well over 3,000 miles on the road. 5,000 to 7,000 miles is generally the sweet spot when you should go in for an oil change.
The other sign that you need to get an oil change is your car’s heat. There is a meter on the car’s dashboard showing whether your car’s temperature is dropping before normal. When the indicator drops and you feel your car overheating too quickly, you might want to bring it in to change oil.
Lastly, there is the oil change indicator light. For most cars, it’s a big bright red light that turns on when the oil needs to be changed. There are a lot of metrics that the car observes, such as the total number of miles driven since the last oil change, vehicle temperature, over all speed averages, and more.
This system has been honed and perfected since the 1980s and it is very reliable. Once that light checks red you need to bring the car and have a specialist verify if you need to change oil or not.