An oil change is the most important maintenance service for your car. Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. It provides vital lubrication for fast-moving parts inside the motor. If the engine oil is old, it won't work as well. If the oil level is low, it will cause significant problems that could lead to major engine damage. This is why the oil and oil filter need to be replaced periodically to keep your vehicle healthy.
Many of us depend on our mechanic and/or our car's computer system to tell us when each next oil change is due. You may have a little sticker on your windshield with the mileage for your next service, which is usually 5,000-6,000 miles from your previous oil change. For some older cars, that interval may be only 3,000 miles. For some modern vehicles, it may be as high as 10,000 miles between services. However, it's important to understand that mileage isn't everything. You may need to get your oil changed sooner than expected or maybe you don't need it done as soon. It all depends on the vehicle and a number of other factors.
Here are some telltale signs that your vehicle is overdue for an oil change:
1. Low Oil Level
It's a good idea to get in the habit of checking your oil regularly. Use the dipstick under your hood and it should only take a few seconds. If you measure your oil and it is low, then you may have an oil leak or are just due for an oil change service.
2. Dark/Burnt Oil
In addition to the oil level, you will also want to check the quality of the fluid. If it is dark, thick and/or smells burnt, you'll want to get your oil changed as soon as possible to avoid engine problems.
3. Warning Lights
Many modern cars have specific service lights to let you know when an oil change is due. Some are using sensors that are monitoring oil levels or engine performance. Others may just have a mileage set by the mechanic who last serviced the car. A bad oil situation may also trip the check engine light or the oil pressure light. Either way, pay attention to your warning lights and take care of maintenance/repairs as needed.
4. Excess Exhaust Smoke
An increase of exhaust smoke (especially if it's darker than usual) can be a sign that the engine is low on oil. It could also be an exhaust/emissions system problem.
5. Engine Overheating
An engine can start to overheat if it doesn't have enough clean oil running through the system. Again, an overheating engine could also be a cooling system issue worth getting inspected.
6. Engine Performance Issues
Low or old engine oil could cause some noticeable performance issues in your engine. You may find it hard to start up the car and get the engine to turnover. It may stall out when you come to a stop or idle roughly. You might even hear strange ticks and other noises to let you know something isn't right.
7. Burning Oil Smell
If you are driving and smell burnt oil, you may have an oil leak. Oil could be dripping out onto hot engine parts and causing the smell, or low/bad oil may be running through the engine and causing excess friction.
8. Loss of Fuel Economy
Lastly, you may notice that your car isn't getting very good gas mileage. This could be any number of problems associated with the fuel system, exhaust system, wheel alignment, tire air pressure, transmission or engine. It might also just mean you need to get an oil change as soon as possible.
These are some of the most common signs that your car may be overdue for an oil change. If you are in the Northern Delaware area, call Fox Run Auto today at (302) 597-9205 or book online to schedule your next maintenance service. We'll also perform an inspection of the vehicle's vital systems to make sure there aren't any other issues at hand.