Checking the levels of oil in your vehicle is essential if your car is going to continue running smoothly. After all, engine oil is vital to lubricate the engine’s moving parts and to protect, cool and clean those parts so the engine doesn’t seize up. However, it’s essential to change your engine oil regularly since the lubricating properties won’t last forever. With time, the oil will become dirty and this causes the chemical makeup to change so it becomes less effective. So, how do you know if it needs to be changed?
Checking The Color
One of the first signs that your vehicle requires an oil change is that the color of the engine oil has changed. Fresh oil will be transparent and light brown in color when you pull the dipstick out of your car’s engine. However, over time, it will turn darker. Eventually, it will look black and thick. If yours has lost its transparency, you should definitely change the oil since it will probably contain particulates that may cause residue to build up in your engine.
Checking The Consistency
While you’re checking the color of your engine oil, you should check its consistency too. Rub your finger on the dipstick to take a small amount of oil off it. Rub the oil between your finger and thumb. If it feels coarse and gritty, this is an indicator that contaminants are in the oil and that it’s time for a replacement.
How Far Have You Traveled?
If you regularly use your vehicle for long journeys and have high mileage, it could be time to replace your oil. Your car’s owner manual will tell you after how many miles your oil will need changing and you should follow this advice.
Is The Dashboard Light On?
If you have a modern car, a light will usually appear on the dashboard if it’s time to change the oil. This reminder light is set to the manufacturer’s own recommended interval for oil changes and will need resetting after changing the oil. Don’t confuse it with the dashboard light that indicates low oil pressure. The low oil pressure light looks like an oil can and if it appears, stop your car and turn off the engine as quickly as possible to avoid damage.
A Dropping Oil Level
If you have topped up the engine oil but you’ve found that the levels keep dropping, there may be a problem. Over time, the engine oil will lose its ability to lubricate the engine properly and therefore the engine will need to use more to keep the moving parts running smoothly. If your engine needs frequent top-ups with oil, there may be a leak or the oil may need to be completely changed.
Is The Engine Noisy?
When you’re driving, remember to listen in to the engine noise. If yours is noisier than usual, the oil could require replacing. Old engine oil that has lost its ability to lubricate will allow the engine’s moving parts to grind against each other and this could result in serious damage. It’s always wise to take your car to a garage if you find that the engine is making more noise than usual to get the engine checked and to get the oil changed.