A regular oil change routine is at the center of vehicle maintenance. Several factors guide this routine. That’s why it is best to keep an eye out for signs your car’s oil needs changing.
It is understandable to overlook or miss this task if you are unsure when to change the oil. So, grant yourself a pat on the back for remembering to change your car’s oil and continue reading!
Know When It’s Time to Change the Oil
Even if you have a strict schedule for your car, different reasons can alter the need for oil changes. Age, increasing mileage, and extreme climatic conditions are some examples of such reasons. You may wait too long to change the oil despite your schedule, which isn’t healthy for your car.
How do you know that it is time for an oil change? Here are some indicators.
1. Smoke from the Exhaust
Usually, the release from your car’s exhaust is mostly invisible. However, it does have a mild smell to it. Anything more than these suggests that the oil requires a change.
Blueish or tinted smoke seeping out from your car’s exhaust is a sign that something is amiss.
Blue smoke results from oil seepage into the engine, where it burns up with the fuel. The engine will be low on oil too. You cannot rule out the possibility of an external oil leak either, causing it to drip onto the exhaust system.
Keep in mind that while blue smoke indicates a need to change the oil, gray smoke points towards an incorrect fuel to air ratio.
It’s relevant to note that, unlike diesel engines, gasoline engines do not produce heavily colored smoke.
2. Dark or Dirty Oil
New oil is usually a rich golden color, though it depends upon the weight too. However, after a while and following usage, it naturally starts turning dark or dirty. It’s usually because of the heat it has to experience each day. Additionally, the accumulation of dust and debris also contributes to this difference.
It is advisable to check the dipstick regularly to keep track of the oil’s color over time. If you pull the dipstick to discover dark oil, it’s time to change it! An additive like Marvel Mystery or Seafoam is also a good option.
3. Low Oil Level
All car owners need to check the level of the oil regularly. Once a month is a decent frequency for oil level checks.
Most oil dipsticks have marks to indicate full and safe levels. You will need to top off the oil if it’s falling below the safe range. However, if you’ve arrived at your oil change mileage, it’s critical to change it. Failure to do so can permanently damage your engine.
The oil dipstick is home to the most common signs your car’s oil needs changing.
4. Greater Mileage Than Usual
Have you just enjoyed a long road trip? If you drive your vehicle over a longer distance than usual, you need to change the oil. It is always a good idea to consider using some of the better high mileage oils.
A greater mileage is one of the most overlooked signs. Long drives put the engine and the oil under strain.
Prolonged use of your car means that the engine temperature remains high for a longer time. As a result, the oil also degrades faster. It accumulates grime and dirt quicker and rapidly loses its lubrication abilities.
Remember to change your oil before taking a long car trip and right after you return.
Vehicles with high mileages need more frequent oil changes.
5. Strange Engine Noises
Motor oil’s job is to lubricate your car’s engine so that all its parts work smoothly. When the oil requires a change, you may begin to hear strange noises from the engine.
Poor quality oil may cause the engine to make clinking or ticking sounds while the car runs. These sounds are due to inadequate lubrication that causes metal-to-metal contact.
Here are some oil-related reasons for engine noises:
- The oil is old
- It has lost its viscosity
- The thickness and consistency of the oil has changed
- The oil has lost its original texture
These differences in the oil are signs your car’s oil needs changing.
Note that these engine noises are not identical to engine knocking. That is the result of an incorrect fuel to air ratio.
6. The Oil Check Light Is On
There are quite a few lights and indicators on the dashboard. However, keep an eye on the oil check light. It’s the most evident of all the signs your car’s oil needs changing.
The oil check light is red and usually in the shape of an oil can.
If it comes on while driving, it’s safe to pull over and turn off the engine. The oil check light indicates issues like a faulty pump too.
The light also comes on if the oil pressure in the engine is not optimal. It is dangerous to keep driving in such a case. So, seek out a professional as soon as possible.
If you have a newer car, your dashboard may also consist of a reminder light. It will come on as a routine reminder to change your oil after certain mileage points.
7. Excessive Shaking while Idling
When your engine needs an oil change, the friction is higher than usual. It affects the quality of your ride.
When your vehicle is idling, you may experience unnatural vibrations or shaking.
Try not to idle until you have changed the oil.
8. Engine Overheating
You may not consider overheating as part of the signs your car’s oil needs changing. However, if the oil is low or old, it will affect the engine coolant’s ability to deal with excess heat.
The coolant temperature will begin to rise if the oil level is below the safe mark. You will have to top it off or change it altogether. Check the coolant level too.
It is highly important to pay attention to the condition of your car’s oil. Make sure you take it for servicing from time to time.
In addition to the manufacturer’s recommendations, watch out for the signs your car’s oil needs changing. You will dodge engine damages if you stay on track with timely oil changes!