Five Signs it’s Time to Change Your Oil

Changing the oil in your car is one of the best things you can do to keep it running for a long time. If you fail to do this, you may notice some significantly larger problems within your car – problems that cost a lot of money to fix. To keep this from happening, it’s important that you change your oil at regular intervals.

However, we all get busy, and sometimes we forget to change the oil on time. But if you notice any of the 5 signs below, don’t wait any longer to change the oil, as they are a sign that something is wrong with your car.


A Dashboard Light Comes On

First, many cars are equipped with a dashboard light that will turn on when it’s time to change the oil. In older cars this may be the check engine light, but newer models have upgraded in-car technology, including a dedicated warning light. According to this Hutchinson KS auto body shop, “Many of today’s vehicles are equipped with an Oil Life System (OLS). This system interprets your vehicle’s speed and engine temperature and continuously monitors operating conditions-which helps determine when it’s time for an oil change…As soon as you notice your vehicle’s OLS light illuminate, you will know it’s time for service.”

Too many of us drive around with warning lights on, telling ourselves we’ll get to it eventually. Don’t wait for the problem to get worse – if you have a warning light on your dashboard on, get it checked out sooner rather than later.

Dark or Dirty Oil

One of the best ways to tell if it’s time to change the oil is through a visual inspection. Pop open your hood and pull out the engine oil dipstick. Examine the bottom of it and see what the oil looks like. If it’s a very dark color, or if it looks like there is dirt or other debris within it, it’s time to change the oil. While you’re there, you can also see if you’re low on oil. Performing this check every few thousand miles will go a long way, and it only takes a few minutes.

Loud Engine Sounds

Have you been noticing some loud sounds coming from your engine while you drive? If so, the issue could be needing an oil change. This is one sign that you won’t want to ignore, because engine troubles can be very expensive to change. The cost of an oil change is minimal in comparison, so don’t let this sounds go unattended for longer than you must. Listen for the engine running louder than normal, or for any loud clangs coming from that area.

Smoke from the Exhaust

The next sign you’ll want to look out for is smoke from your exhaust. If you’re driving along and there is a dark cloud of smoke coming from behind your car, this is a sign that something is wrong. However, don’t confuse this with steam. Most cars will produce some steam on a cold morning. When the cloud is a dark grey though, this is smoke, so get it taken care of as soon as you can.

The Smell of Oil

Finally, the last sign that you need an oil change is when you can smell smoke within the cabin. Not only is this an unpleasant smell, but it’s a sign that there’s an issue with the engine. A simple oil change may be all you need in order to get your car running right again, and to remove that unpleasant smell from inside your car.

How to Change Your Oil

To change your oil, you have two major options – doing it yourself, or getting someone else to. If you want to do it yourself, prepare for a messy, but rewarding job. You’ll some basic tools, like a car jack, jack stands, and a funnel. To learn more on how to change your own oil, you can check out this guide.

For those of you that don’t want to do it yourself, take it to a trusted mechanic. This method is a bit more expensive, but you’ll know that the job gets done right. Most mechanics will also use this time to inspect the rest of your car, so you can be alerted if there are any more issues.

Whichever method you choose, just make sure you do it as soon as you detect any of the signs above. Preferably you’ll get your oil changed long before there are any issues, but the signs above can be your last line of defense. Keep an eye out for them, and once detected, make plans for an oil change as soon as you can.

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