Often overlooked by some vehicle owners, getting your car’s oil changed is an easy, simple service, but it’s arguably one of the most important parts of vehicle maintenance. The oil in your car’s engine acts as a cooling agent and lubricant for its moving parts, preventing the parts from rubbing together and becoming damaged due to friction. Engine oil also acts as a filter, removing sludge and varnish from your car’s internal workings. When the oil gets older, it loses its lubricating and cleaning properties and the engine parts grind together, often causing long-term damage. Failing to get your car’s oil changed can, therefore, have disastrous consequences, both on your engine and on your bank balance!
We’ve compiled a list of 6 simple ways to tell when you need to get your car’s oil changed, to help you keep on top of this essential element of vehicle maintenance.
Before You Start…
Before you begin, you’ll need to check your car’s oil level (do this when the engine is cold, ideally at least 10 minutes after you switch the engine off). To do this you will need to open up your car’s bonnet and look for the dipstick (tip – it will look like a ring-pull). Pull out the dipstick and give it a wipe on a clean cloth so that the oil level reading will be as clear as possible. Then put the dipstick back in and take it out a second time and check the reading. The dipstick should be marked with a “maximum” and “minimum” oil level. Never let the oil level get below the “minimum” mark, and beware of overfilling the engine above the “maximum” mark.
Then look out for the following signs that the oil needs changing…
1. The Colour Of The Oil
When you pull the dipstick out, check the colouring of the oil residue. Fresh engine oil is transparent, and the colour is amber or honey. The older the oil is, the darker it gets as it collects particles from the engine, eventually resulting in a thick, black substance. If your oil looks less transparent or if you can see clear signs of black particles, then it’s probably time to book your vehicle in for an oil change.
2. The Consistency Of The Oil
The consistency of the oil on your dipstick can also give you a hint that it needs to be changed. Take a little oil and rub it between your fingers (it’s dirty work, but it could save you a pretty penny in the long-run!). If the oil feels grainy in texture and is not as smooth as it should be, then this is also reliable sign that the oil contains particles from the engine and therefore needs to be changed.
3. Your Oil Replacement Light Is Engaged
It might be that your vehicle has an engine oil replacement warning light installed that will automatically alert you when the oil in your engine is due to be changed. Mainly found in more modern vehicles, this handy internal system will need to be reset each time your oil is changed to be effective. Older systems rely on time and mileage to estimate when your oil will need to be replaced, but the latest technology analyses a range of vehicle operating conditions to accurately measure when the oil quality will begin to deteriorate.
4. You Notice Increased Engine Noise
Clean, fresh engine oil acts as a barrier to stop the engine parts of your vehicle rubbing against each other. As the oil becomes older it’s less effective at lubricating the engine meaning its parts begin to grind together, causing damage and increasing the noise of the engine. If your engine sounds louder, angrier and generally unpleasant all of a sudden, then it might be time to book your car in for an oil change. Look out for any metallic sounds too, like ticking.
5. You’ve Noticed Your Engine Oil Level Dropping
If you’ve recently put fresh oil into your vehicle but have noticed that your dipstick shows that the oil levels have dropped significantly, then this might mean there’s something wrong. When the engine oil is not doing its job properly and has lost its lubricating qualities, the engine uses more of it to try and keep up and keep the internal parts working. Consequently, the oil levels drop more rapidly, so this is a sure-fire way to tell that you need to replace the engine oil.
6. You Can’t Remember When You Changed It Last…
If you simply cannot remember the last time that you changed your oil, then logic and reason say that you should probably get it replaced. It’s important to keep to a schedule when it comes to oil replacement, to make sure your vehicle is running at optimal efficiency and to keep your engine healthy. If you can’t remember the last time you did it, it’s not a great sign and you’ll need to check it out.
If you’ve followed this guide and are still unsure whether or not you need an oil change, contact Sinspeed and we will check this for you. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the signs and gamble with your oil levels, as failing to replace your engine oil when needed can lead to long-term damage to your engine that will cost you dearly further down the line.