Changing car oil is one of those maintenance aspects that are often overlooked, but really it shouldn’t be, as it’s one of the fastest and most efficient ways to keep your ride in good shape. If you’re not sure if it’s time to visit Jiffy Lube or not, here are some signs and indicators you should look for.
Change Every 3,000 Miles?
You’ve heard that before, right? Well it certainly won’t hurt to change your oil every 3,000 miles, but it’s not necessary if your car is one of the newer models. These days the acceptable level is around 4,000 to 6,000 miles, with the better cars able to do without a change until 10,000 miles. But rather than just rely on any roundabout figure, it’s much better to set a schedule and look for signs: if the signs are there, then don’t wait and change the oil.
Gritty and Black Oil
Oil’s true color is honey brown, but after a few weeks this is going to turn dark, and if you see particles in the black oil, then it’s time to change it: the last thing you want to do is overload the filter that it will affect the engine.
Engine is Getting Louder
Oil is responsible for lubricating your car’s engine, and without lubrication the parts will start grinding against each other and produce loud noises. If your car’s engine is revving up louder than before –or just producing too much noise when running- then it’s time for an oil change.
You Cannot Recall the Last Oil Change
Early on emphasis was placed on creating an oil change schedule because it’s the one thing that will assure you don’t forget to change. If you can’t even remember the last time you actually changed the oil, then do it now, write the date when you changed it and create a schedule. There are a lot of notification apps available nowadays that remembering shouldn’t be a problem.
The Check Engine Light isn’t Working Properly
To be more specific, the check engine light won’t turn off. Over time the engine consumes engine oil. That’s normal especially if the car’s being used for a while, but if it’s old the process won’t be as effective. And if that’s the case the engine will utilize more to ensure that everything will still run properly. If the level is too low, look at the consistency first because it might be time for an oil change.
Check the Exhaust Smoke
Take a look at your car’s tailpipe. If the car’s oil is in good condition, you’re not going to see anything there but vapor when the temperature is very cold. That’s the only time you should see engine vapor emanating from the tailpipe. If smoke is coming from the tailpipe, check the oil. However this could also be due to a head gasket problem or there’s something wrong with one of the cylinders.
Why Car Oil Needs to be Changed
Car engines have moving components, and these parts rub and move against one another when you’re driving. When the engine’s running, friction is generated and this produces heat. What oil does is lubricate the engine and function as a heat absorber. This allows the internal components to work harmoniously and not overheat.
As was pointed out earlier, engine oil breaks down when it isn’t changed on a regular basis. If you don’t change the oil, it will have a harder time lubricating the engine, so your car becomes more susceptible to overheating. The signs given above are indications that an oil change is necessary, but as many car owners will point out, it’s much better to change the oil regularly so it doesn’t reach this point. Oil change symptoms are just that, symptoms, and while they’re annoying, can lead to more serious problems if not acted upon.
If it’s time for an oil change, you can either change it yourself or have it serviced by a professional. While it’s possible to change the oil yourself, it’s time consuming and requires a lot of tools like jacks, ramps, a funnel, an oil filter wrench, an oil pan, a new oil filter and new oil. And as any car owner will tell you, the process can be time consuming and messy especially if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
If you don’t have time or just don’t want to mess with it, just go to a professional service provider like Valvoline and have a professional look things over, and he could probably point out other things in your car that need working on.
What it all comes down to is this: change your oil on a regular basis so it doesn’t become a problem. If you heed the signs then there shouldn’t be any long term issues. You should also read the car manual if there are any recommendations or schedules suggested.