The Top Signs That Say You Need an Oil Change

Proper vehicle maintenance is a crucial practice for car owners. Most drivers know that regular oil changes are the key to having their vehicle perform at its best and most efficient. Knowing when to schedule an oil change is easy if you're always keeping an eye on your mileage. However, if you lose track of the miles, there are a few warning signs that can tell you it's time to visit your local service center near Delaware County, Center City, South Jersey, and Philadelphia.

It's never wise to ignore these warning signs because putting off an oil change for too long can lead to severe damage to your engine and its components. Repairs could total in the thousands, all because you didn't see the signs that were telling you that all you really needed was an oil change. To help you avoid these damages and costs, here are the important signs that tell you it's time for an oil change by the experts at Family Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM.

Keep an Ear Out for Strange Engine Sounds

When you drive your car every day, you're pretty familiar with how it sounds. However, if you start to hear odd sounds, that may tell you that it's time to schedule a service appointment. More often than not, these sounds can indicate that your vehicle needs oil.

Oil is a lubricant for your engine's moving metal parts. When the oil is old and less effective, these parts don't move as fluidly, and they start to rub against each other, resulting in grinding and clicking noises. If you hear these sounds, don't hesitate to schedule service right away.

The Check Engine/Oil Light Has Appeared

Among the many advantages of modern cars are the warning lights that can appear on the dashboard. Whenever a component or system has an issue, you get notified through a blinking symbol. When your check engine or oil warning light appears, it means that you should probably schedule an oil change soon to prevent any further issues or even damage. The light will either look like an engine or an oil lamp, so be on the lookout for one of these lights to appear, so you know when to schedule your service.

The Oil Has Become Dark and Gritty

As a vehicle owner, it's important to periodically check your dipstick to make sure that your oil is at the right level. During this time, you can also check the quality of your oil by wiping off your dipstick with a rag. If the oil appears to be gritty and dark, it means that it may be time to schedule your oil change.

Oil entering your vehicle has a golden amber color. Since one of its jobs is to keep the metal parts and components in your engine clean, it tends to pick up some dirt and debris along the way. Once the oil becomes dark and dirty, it becomes less effective at cleaning and lubricating your engine components.

What Happens If You Don't Change Your Oil?

A regular oil change can help keep your engine running and get maximum mileage out of your vehicle. It's simple to check your oil and doesn't take much time to have a service professional change it for you, so you can easily take the steps and not worry about what happens if you don't change your oil. However, it's important to be aware of the potential consequences of not regularly changing your oil.

The engine's pistons rapidly fire thousands of times a minute to create combustion to power your vehicle. As the purpose of oil is to lubricate an engine's moving pistons, not having oil means the engine can literally seize up and stop firing. Oil breaks down and loses its viscosity over time, which makes it less effective at lubricating the pistons. That's when you often hear noises because of the grinding wear and tear on the engine's internal parts. Over time, oil becomes dark and gritty as it wears down and picks up contaminants, and the contaminants and grit can damage your engine.

How to Check Engine Oil?

Thankfully, there are a few easy steps to check your oil to see if it needs to be filled up or changed. Your first step should be to double-check your vehicle's owner's manual to find the recommended way to check the oil because some newer vehicles don't require you to check your oil the traditional way. Once you've done so, you'll see that most engines have a dipstick that measures the level of oil in the engine.

Before you check the dipstick, it's always a good idea to make sure your vehicle is parked on level ground and that you don't have the engine running. When you've located and pulled out the dipstick, you then want to use a rag or paper towel to wipe it clean and then reinsert it. That way when you pull out the dipstick, you get a true reading of the oil level. You can then look at the dipstick, which will indicate the proper oil level. As noted, you also want to be on the lookout for whether the oil is a golden amber color. If the oil is low but of a good color, you may be OK simply topping it off.

At How Many Miles Should You Change Your Oil?

For decades, drivers were told that a vehicle's oil had to be changed every 3,000 miles. While that's no longer exactly true, there is a recommended mileage for when it's time to change your oil. Rather than every 3,000 miles, manufacturers now recommend a vehicle's oil be changed every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, or around 7,500 miles. You should check your vehicle's owner's manual, as it's vitally important to know what your manufacturer recommends.

Whether your vehicle needs its oil change every 5,000 or 7,500 miles, you may be able to assume that is around every five months. But this estimation can vary greatly depending on how often you drive and the type of driving you do, as city miles put more wear and tear on engines than highway miles. One of the main reasons your oil does not need to be changed as often nowadays is because of advancements in engine design and the regular use of synthetic oils. Engines have been designed to be more efficient, and synthetic oils maintain their viscosity longer.

Knowing When to Schedule Your Next Oil Change

Now that you know the signs that indicate you may need an oil change, how to check it, and how often it needs to be changed, you'll know exactly when to schedule your next oil change. Drivers in Delaware County, Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Center City can always schedule their automotive service with our expert technicians at Family Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM.

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Family Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

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