There’s a basic premise of vehicle maintenance: Take care of your car and it will take care of you. In other words, stay on top of all routine upkeep—including tire rotations, battery replacements, wheel alignments, and the like—and it will ensure your vehicle keeps running safely and efficiently.
One of the most important forms of vehicle maintenance is the oil change. If you don’t have your oil and filters changed at a regular interval, it could lead to engine failure! As such, it’s important for all vehicle owners to understand the oil change basics. To that end, here are a few answers to commonly asked questions.
Oil Change FAQ
How often do you need to have your engine oil changed?
There’s no one answer to this question; it just depends on the make and model of your car. The best way to find out how frequently you need the oil changed is to consult the owner’s manual. In it, the vehicle’s engineers—the people who know your car the best—will offer their recommendation. If you don’t have the manual, you can always call the local dealership service department and they’ll let you know.
What kind of oil does my engine need?
Again, the answer varies, and you can find out either by checking the manual or by asking at the service center. It’s important to get the right kind of engine oil, as the wrong kind may lead to malfunctioning or inefficiency.
What are the signs that I’m overdue for an oil change?
If you wait too long to get your oil changed, your car will probably let you know! Here are some of the telltale signs that you’re ready to have your engine oil changed.
- The oil light is illuminated. If your dashboard has an oil light and it becomes illuminated, that means there’s something wrong—likely, you need to have your oil changed. In older vehicles there may not be an oil light, so you may need to pay attention to the Check Engine light.
- You have smoke coming from your exhaust pipe. There’s always going to be some translucent vapor escaping from your vehicle’s tailpipe. If you have thick grey or blue smoke, that means there’s an issue, and you need to take your car in for servicing ASAP.
- Your engine oil is dirty or dark. You can always use your dipstick to verify both the amount and the quality of your oil. If it has dirty flecks in it or appears dark in color, that means you’re due for an oil change. (Clean, healthy engine oil should be honey- or amber-colored.)
- You hear odd noises. If you hear your engine making a knocking or scraping sound, that means your oil isn’t doing its job, and you need to have it checked on.
If you have any additional questions about your engine oil change or general vehicle maintenance, don’t hesitate to contact your local dealership or service center.