What to Look for When Checking Your Motor Oil

Whether you know much about cars or not, it's very easy to check your motor oil using the dipstick under your hood. If you don't know where to find it, consult your owner's manual for instructions.

If you are good about getting your oil changes done when they are due, then there rarely should be an issue with the oil levels or quality. However, it's still worth taking a few minutes every few weeks or so to check the oil that's in the reservoir. It can tell you a lot about the health of the engine and it's just a smart thing to do if you care about your vehicle.

Here are a few things to look for when checking your engine oil, according to the Northern Delaware auto repair experts at Fox Run Auto:

Oil Level

The first thing to look for is the oil level. The dipstick will have markers to show you the desired level range. If there is a little too much, it's usually not a major cause for concern. However, an excess of oil could be a sign that it is not being distributed properly into the engine. If it is too low, that is definitely something to be a bit more concerned about. You may just need to top it off or it could mean there is a leak somewhere in the system. Or, it means the oil is getting used up more than it should. Whatever the cause, a low oil level is something worth getting looked at by a professional mechanic.

Oil Color

Fresh, healthy oil will usually be a light brown/gold color (it can vary from brand to brand and from weight to weight). Some lightweight synthetics may look almost clear on the dipstick. If it is dark or discolored in any way, then it's probably time for an oil change and an inspection to make sure that there aren't any problems that need to be repaired. Milky oil is a common sign of radiator coolant (antifreeze) leaking into the engine's compression chambers, which is definitely an issue you will want to get resolved.

Oil Consistency

Beyond just the color, another way to know that there is a problem with the oil is to look at the consistency. It should be nice, translucent and viscous. If it is thick, sticky or has any noticeable dirt/debris in it, then the oil and oil filter need to be replaced as soon as possible to prevent engine damage. The oil is there to keep fast-moving engine parts lubricated and cool while the motor is running, so bad oil can lead to bad things. If you ever notice any metal shavings in there, you will certainly want to get your vehicle checked out by an auto shop sooner rather than later.

Oil Smell

Motor oil typically has a fairly neutral smell that also may vary depending on the type (synthetic blends will smell a bit different than standard oils). If if it smells burnt or strongly like gasoline, then it could be the sign that there is a problem or it's due for an oil/filter change.

The point is that it's very easy to check your oil periodically. And, if you ever notice anything that you think is out of the ordinary, it's wise to schedule an oil change and preventative inspection. A lot of people take oil changes for granted, but we do them for a reason. If the oil isn't fresh and doing what it is supposed to do, you can be facing serious engine problems and costly repairs. 

For all your oil change and engine inspection/repair needs, call Fox Run Auto in Bear, DE at (302) 597-9205 or schedule your service appointment online.


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