5 Things to Know About Oil Changes for Your Car

 

Oil to your car is like water to our bodies; it keeps us running. Understanding when and how often your car needs an oil change, what type of oil your car needs and more is vital to keeping your car happy and healthy in the long run.

 

Today, we’re going to look at some things you should know about oil changes to your car that will hopefully help clear all the misinformation and doubt you may have.


1. When should you change your oil

Picture shown mechanic pouring lubrication oil into engine system.  Image from:  Your Mechanic

Picture shown mechanic pouring lubrication oil into engine system.

Image from: Your Mechanic

Before we start, we should preface this with one thing that can answer a lot of these questions below. You should always consult your car owner’s manual to be completely sure. Don’t make an assumption based on previous oil changes or older cars you may have owned because cars have evolved over the years and the timing has too.

 

Nowadays, many cars have an automatic alert on the dashboard to alert drivers that it is time to change the oil. These systems are able to monitor the number of kilometers travelled and adjust accordingly to give a fairly accurate reading. You should make sure to change your oil if such an alert appears.

 

2. How often should you check your oil

Image from:  Team Autocare

Image from: Team Autocare

It’s recommended to check your oil level at least once a month. Be sure to get repairs done at the first sign of a leak.

If you’re using a dipstick,  make sure the car is parked on level ground. If the engine has been running, be aware of potential hot spots under the hood. With the engine off, open the car’s hood and find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out from the engine and wipe any oil off from its end. Then insert the dipstick back into its tube and push it all the way back in.

Pull it back out, and this time quickly look at both sides of the dipstick to see where the oil is on the end. Every dipstick has some way of indicating the proper oil level, whether it be two pinholes, the letters L and H (low and high), the words MIN and MAX, or simply an area of crosshatching. If the top of the oil “streak” is between the two marks or within the crosshatched area, the level is fine.

But if the oil is below the minimum mark, you need to add oil.

Pay close attention to the oil’s color. It should appear brown or black. But if it has a light, milky appearance, this could mean coolant is leaking into the engine. Look closely for any metal particles, too, because this could mean there is internal engine damage. If you see either of these conditions, get the car to a mechanic for further diagnosis.

If everything is okay, wipe off the dipstick again and insert it back into its tube, making sure it’s fully seated. Close the hood and you’re done.

 

3. How often should you change your oil

You may have heard of the every 5,000km or every 3 months rule, but since the advancement of engines, that level has changed. Now automakers are making engines that are capable of oil change intervals at around 10,000km-12,000km range, and up to 6-12 months per oil change interval.

 

Remember, even if you don’t drive your car around a lot, your oil still needs to be changed. Oil becomes less effective as it ages, and by not getting the engine warm enough, excess moisture that forms in the engine will not be removed, which can lead to shorter engine life.


4. Choose the right oil for your car

Image from:  Vivcore Energy

Image from: Vivcore Energy

In many newer models, the weight of your car’s motor oil is printed on the cap where you add oil.  You have to make sure you know what is recommended by your automaker before heading to the mechanic for your oil refill so that you can control the cost. Synthetic oil is not necessary, so you should always consult your owner’s manual to be absolutely sure.

5. Synthetic oil or conventional oil?


Synthetic oil is designed to be more effective at resisting breakdown and withstanding high temperatures. Because of this, one oil refill can cost up to 4 times as much as conventional oil. However, because synthetic oil has a high resistance to breakdown, it lasts longer, and can also help prolong the life of your engine. Ultimately, it boils down to the usage of your car. Cars that are used in countries with extreme temperatures (like winter or extreme summer heat) should opt for synthetic oil as it won’t be as easy to breakdown the engine. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in engines that build up sludge. This residue, formed when oil breaks down, can block the flow of oil, leading to the quick death of an engine. Synthetic oil helps to reduce sludge buildup, helping to extend the engine’s lifespan.

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