Oil changes may be a simple service appointment, but the oil that’s swapped out is one of the most important liquids in your vehicle. Changing your oil regularly is the single best thing you can do to increase your vehicle’s lifespan. The oil in your vehicle is needed to prevent friction in the engine, but also to clean, prevent corrosion, and remove dangerous impurities. The challenge comes in knowing when you can just top up your oil and when you need to take it in for a full oil change. Changing your oil too often can be a strain on your wallet, while waiting too long between oil changes can be extremely damaging to your car. Read on for four signs you can watch for that will let you know it’s time to make an appointment and get your oil changed.
In more serious instances, you might see your check engine light or your oil pressure light come on. Both of these are indicators that your engine is at high risk for damage, so it’s best to get it into the shop as soon as possible to diagnose the issue.
2. Dark, Thick Oil
Clean oil is a light amber colour. Over time it will start to darken and thicken as it collects particles from the engine. It’s recommended that you check the condition of your oil once a month. That way, you can keep tabs on the color and consistency of the oil and know when it needs to be switched out. To check your oil, remove the dipstick from your engine, wipe it off, and put it back. Remove the dipstick again and if you can see the stick through the oil, you’re fine. If levels are low you can top it up with some fresh oil. However, if you can’t see through the oil, or notice that it seems sludgy, it’s time to schedule an oil change.
3. Loud Engine Noises
The oil in your vehicle provides a thin barrier between engine parts that protects against metal-on-metal contact and gives you a smooth, quiet ride; however, once the oil starts to break down it can’t lubricate as well so you’ll start to hear a lot more noise coming from your engine. Ignoring this early warning sign will eventually lead to loud knocking or rumbling noises. This is a sign that the oil volume is too low and should be a reminder to you that your car is in dire need of an oil change.
4. Dropping Oil Levels
If you’ve topped up your oil but are noticing that it keeps dropping below the minimum indicator on your dipstick, it could suggest a problem. As oil loses its ability to lubricate the engine, more of it is used to keep everything running smoothly. If you continually need to top up your oil it could be a sign of an oil leak or that the oil is old and needs to be changed out.