person checking oil in car

Car Maintenance 101: How to Tell if You Need an Oil Change?

As a car owner, there are many things you need to do to ensure that your car is running at its optimal levels. One of the things you need to do is change your car’s oil on a regular basis. 

The question is, when will you know that your vehicle needs an oil change? Are there signs to look out for? The answer is a bold and unflinching “yes!”

Without further ado, here is how to tell if you need an oil change. 

How to Tell if You Need an Oil Change

There are several signs to look for to determine whether or not you need an oil change. If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, you probably need an oil change. 

Is Your Oil is Dirty?

The best way to ascertain the quality of your oil is to simply take a look at it. You can check oil by removing your oil dipstick, wiping it off, putting it back in, taking it back out and inspecting the color of the oil that appears. 

When in good shape, oil will possess a yellow-brown color. When it’s past its prime, it will possess a dark brown color, or maybe even a black color. If your oil is brown or black and difficult to see through, it’s probably time that you make a change. 

Is Your Vehicle is Making Knocking Noises? 

Do you keep repeatedly hear knocking noises when you’re driving? If so, your vehicle could be experiencing a number of different problems. However, if you haven’t changed your oil in a while, a lack of fresh oil is the most likely culprit. 

Oil-related knocking occurs because your engine is not being properly lubricated. Your oil has become old and deteriorated, and is allowing for too much friction between the moving parts of your engine.

The result? An annoying, banging noise. 

Are Your Alert Lights On?

The easiest way to determine whether or not your oil needs changed is to look for alert lights. If a “check oil” light has popped up on your dashboard, you need to inspect for the quality of your oil as soon as possible. While there’s a chance that your vehicle has encountered some other problem, it’s most likely that your oil is needs changed. 

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Note, though, that this is not the only sign you should look out for. Usually, “check engine” lights will not appear until oil is well past its prime. At this point, your oil will likely be black, sludgy, and entirely incapable of providing the lubrication that your engine needs. 

A “check engine” light is just an indication that your oil requires instant attention. 

Is Excess Smoke is Leaking from Your Vehicle’s Tail Pipe?

Another one of many signs your car needs an oil change is that excess smoke is leaking out of your exhaust pipe. While there should be fumes coming out of your tailpipe, there shouldn’t be any dark gray or black smoke. 

Excess smoke leaking out of your exhaust could be indicative of a number of different problems, only one of which is deteriorated oil. In any case, it would be wise to have your vehicle inspected by a professional.  

Does the Interior of Your Vehicle Smell Like Oil? 

Under no circumstances should the inside of your vehicle smell like oil. If it does, you should have it checked out by a professional mechanic as soon as possible. 

While deteriorated oil could be the culprit, there could also be a range of other problems with your car. Act now before your vehicle experiences irreparable damage. 

What is the Importance of Fresh Oil?

So, what is the importance of fresh oil? Why does motor oil even need to be changed in the first place? The truth is that automobiles need fresh oil for a few different reasons. 

The primary reason that fresh oil is needed is that lubricates the moving parts in the car’s engine. By adding lubrication to the valves, pistons, and other components within your engine, you allow them to function more efficiently and for a longer duration of time. In essence, by adding oil, you prolong the life of your engine. 

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Because oil reduces the friction of the moving parts in your engine, it also prevents engine overheating. By keeping the heat of your engine at a reasonable temperature, you prevent your vehicle from breaking down unexpectedly. 

You’ll also find that changing your oil on a regular basis allows for greater gas mileage. While the difference won’t be substantial, it will usually end up saving you some money throughout the use of the vehicle.

Interested in more about what happens when you don’t change the oil? Read more here.

Is There a Mile Limit for Oil?

In the old days, it was recommended that you change your oil after every 3,000 miles of driving. In fact, many quick-stop oil change facilities still recommend this, even indicating so with the stickers that they place on the bottoms of windshields.

However, in most cases, it’s not necessary to change your oil this often.  Generally, it’s recommended that you change your oil for every 5,000 to 10,000 miles you drive. 

If you accumulate your miles over a number of short trips, you should err around 5,000 miles. If, on the other hand, you accumulate your miles over primarily long trips, you could probably suffice with a change every 7,500 to 10,000 miles. 

In any case, you should keep an eye on your oil, checking on it every month or so. If it’s displaying any of the signs reviewed above, you should start thinking about changing it. 

Find More Vital Vehicle Information 

And there you have it. That’s how to tell if you need an oil change. Make sure to keep an eye on the signs so that you can keep your vehicle running right at all times. 

Looking for more vehicle information? If so, you can find it right here at Certified Master Tech. Our website has all kinds of information on automobiles, helping you to be a vigilant and responsible vehicle owner. 

Browse some of our other auto maintenance information now!