10 Signs You Need an Oil Change

Looking for signs your car needs an oil change

10 Signs You Need an Oil Change

Getting your oil changed on a regular basis is a simple way to improve your vehicle’s performance and extend its life. This simple service usually takes less than an hour and can have a profound impact on your vehicle. Most car owners use the time and distance sticker inside the windshield as the only signs your car needs an oil change. This can be a problem because your car has clear signs you need an oil change. But how do you know when you need an oil change other than the sticker? The time and mileage suggestions are only suggestions that your car needs an oil change. Paying attention to what your car is telling you can prevent engine damage and increase performance. How do you know when you need an oil change? Easy! Here are 10 signs you need an oil change.

How Can You Tell When You Need An Oil Change

  1. Dark or Dirty Oil

Dirty or low oil is a sign you need an oil change

One of the most obvious signs you need an oil change is dark or dirty oil. Clean oil has an amber color to it and is free of any dirt, sand or any other contaminants picked up along the road. It’s common for the darkening of oil over time but when it is dark brown/black or has any irregularity to the texture, it’s time for an oil change. Regularly checking the composition of your oil will help prevent damage to your engine from old or dirty oil. Here is a helpful video to learn how to check your oil if the process is new to you, watch this.

  1. Loud Engine Noises

The reason you put oil in your car in the first place is to lubricate the engine. This promotes a healthy engine and is why car manufacturers recommend changing your oil every 5,000 miles. Without the proper oil, metal on metal grinding can occur. If ignored, this can lead to knocking or even loud noises from your engine. This is a clear sign of low oil or signs your car needs oil.

  1. Oil Change or Check Engine Light

Perhaps the most obvious oil change sign is the oil change or check engine light on your dashboard. If you’re not checking your oil regularly (you are, aren’t you?!) perhaps you won’t hear the engine before you see the light. Any time your oil change light, check engine light or however your vehicle indicates a need, immediately take care of it. Now is not the time to hold off and hope it goes away on its own. Addressing the light now can help prevent something more serious from occurring and costing you more money down the road. Each manufacturer is different so make sure to check out more specifics for Subaru, LexusHonda and more.

  1. Exhaust Smoke

There is a difference between car vapor coming from your vehicle in cold weather verse exhaust smoke. Cold weather vapor is much more translucent and will quickly disperse. Car exhaust is much thicker, sometimes looking blue or grey and smells like oil. This can be the sign of something more serious however checking your oil is a great way to begin diagnosing the problem.

  1. The Smell of Oil Inside Cabin

Follow your nose to detect this sign your car needs an oil change. Similar to exhaust smoke, smelling oil inside of the vehicle cabin is another sign your car needs oil or an oil change. Sometimes the oil smell can be hard to detect vs the smell of gasoline. In any case, if you can smell engine fluids burning inside your vehicle, it’s time to make an appointment at the shop for a diagnosis.

  1. Overheating

Your car engine pumps oil throughout to help lubricate engine parts to prevent friction as it does its job. When your car needs an oil change, the oil is no longer doing its job and metal to metal friction can occur. Like rubbing your hands together, more friction means more heat. Like other gauges on your dashboard, remember to keep an eye out on engine temperature as increased heat is your car telling you it’s working too hard.

  1. Low or Falling Oil Level

technician tops off car that needs an oil change

Not having enough oil is just as bad as having old or dirty oil. Once again, regularly checking the health and depth of your oil can help prevent damage to your engine. This oil change sign your car needs oil is easy to assess and has an easy solution. If your oil is clean, a simple top off can do the trick to bring your oil to the recommended level. If you notice over time that your oil level frequently is low despite repeated leveling, you probably have an oil leak which over time can cause problems for your car or truck.

  1. Poor Fuel Economy

Knowing the signs you need an oil change is all about noticing minor changes in your vehicle’s performance. When your engine is not properly lubricated it can no longer perform at an optimal level. Your vehicle has to work harder to produce the same speed or power resulting in reduced fuel efficiency. This can be harder to detect than some of the other signs. Fortunately, most cars now have modes measuring fuel efficiency so if that’s not your normal mode, check-in time to time as reduced fuel efficiency is one of the signs your car needs an oil change.

  1. Ticking Sounds When Starting

The moment you turn your engine on, oil is moving throughout the various parts. When your oil is dirty it can take longer and more effort to move. This can sometimes cause ticking noises while the car engine is warming up. The ticking comes from valves inside the engine working harder to move the dirty oil. So turn down the volume of the stereo before turning your car off so when you start it up next time, you can listen for this oil change sign.

  1. Shaking While Idle

Your car shaking while idling is another sign your car needs an oil change. Old or dirty oil thickens and does not allow the oil to do its job of lubricating the engine parts. This metal friction can create vibrating or shaking if bad enough during the ride. This sensation is more apparent while idling so if you have this problem, avoid idling as much as possible and make an appointment for a diagnosis.

Signs You Need an Oil Change

Learning how to know when you need an oil change is a great skill for any car owner. Keeping your engine performing at its best promotes higher efficiency and longer life. Regularly checking your oil is a great and simple way to help maintain your vehicle. Paying attention to these 10 signs you need an oil change can help ensure the health of your engine and avoid expensive repairs in the future.  If you notice any of these oil change signs or are not sure how to tell if you need an oil change, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable staff for more information and to schedule services.

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