Changing the oil in your car regularly is one of the best ways to extend your car's life and to ensure that your vehicle is performing at its best. Engine oil lubricates parts inside your engine. Over time, if the oil is not changed, it becomes dirty and the consistency changes. This causes your vehicle's performance to drop or possibly stop the vehicle from running.
When there is not enough oil in the engine, it means the oil pressure is low and not enough oil is being circulated by the pump. If the oil light comes on, stop your vehicle and shut off the engine.
Look at the color and consistency of your oil. Engine oil should be golden brown in color and mostly transparent. It should not have debris, dirt or lumps. If your oil is dark and course, the oil needs to be changed.
The owners manual for a vehicle normally lists the recommended oil change intervals. Vehicles that take a synthetic blend oil typically have a 3000 mile interval. Synthetic oils have a 5000 mile interval and some other oils can last up to 10,000 miles. Therefore, paying attention to the mileage since your last oil change will help you determine if it needs to be changed.
On newer vehicles, the oil replacement light/maintenance light will come on when the oil change is due. The light is set to come on after the manufacturer's recommended oil change interval time.
It is beneficial to check the engine oil in your car often. If the oil level has gone below the minimum mark on your dipstick, it means your engine parts are not being lubricated as much as they should be and it needs to be replaced. Little to no oil on the dipstick can indicate that there is an oil leak or your vehicle is burning an excessive amount of oil. On high mileage vehicles, burning oil can occur due to piston rings wearing down and not allowing small amounts of oil to go into the combustion chamber, which then is burnt up and spit out as smoke.
Another indicator of needing an oil change is if you notice your engine is noisier than normal. When the oil is old and is not lubricating as is should be, the engine may begin to grind and cause damage.
Lastly, if you see exhaust smoke coming out the tailpipe or smell oil inside your car, stop the car, shut of the engine, and have it looked at. This is an indication that there is an oil leak and the oil is burning into the exhaust area.
Changing your oil yourself or having it serviced is important. It is cheaper to pay for oil changes than to pay for the damage that not changing your oil can cause.