Oil changes do not tend to be a task of car maintenance that is high up on the priority list. It is easy to overlook and forget, especially when there aren’t that many obvious, urgent signs, like your car making weird noises or foul odors to remind you. Instead, you get a peeling corner sticker with faded ink of mileage you can’t quite make out.

However, regular oil changes are vital to your car’s engine performance. Even though we may have heard it’s important to change your oil every few thousand miles, find out what goes into an oil change, why it’s important, and how to schedule service.

Why Fresh Oil is Important for Engine Function

Your car’s engine is a series of moving parts made from metal. And when parts move up against one another, they create friction and heat. Oil helps lubricate parts, allowing them to slide effortlessly against one another with no resistance. There’s a reason the saying “a well-oiled machine” means to function flawlessly.

However, a breakdown of the oil itself can have catastrophic results on your engine. Without oil, engine parts will cease to function. The friction would cause your engine’s parts to overheat, crack, fuse together, warp, or break. If you ignore your engine oil, contaminants and sludge will form in the crankcase, eat metal parts, collect fluid, and worse.

Using a Dipstick to Check Oil  

A dipstick helps you check to see if the oil needs to be changed.

  1. First, make sure your engine has been turned off for at least ten minutes.
  2. Pop your hood and locate the dipstick.
  3. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it across a lint-free cloth.
  4. Then place the dipstick back in the reservoir and pull it out.
  5. Check for an oily film on the dipstick’s end.

There are two components you need to check on the dipstick: the oil level and the oil color. If the oil level is low, you might need to add more oil. If the oil is a golden brown color with no floating bits, your oil is in good shape. If it’s a silty dark brownish black with floating particles, it’s time to bring your car in for an oil change.

How Often to Change Your Oil

The general recommendation for oil changes is every 5,000 miles or so, with a range of 3,000-10,000 miles. Have you heard the term, “Your mileage may vary?” This means it depends on your vehicle’s primary use and how frequently and far you drive your car.

People who put a lot of miles on their car due to commuting or frequent trips or those who drive older cars may need more frequent oil changes than someone with a newer car or one that is just used for local errands.

After you check your engine’s oil level and condition, you may wish to change your oil yourself. While you could do this, you need to make sure you have the proper equipment, the right type of motor oil for your car or truck, and have knowledge of legal disposal methods for the used oil.

For most people, it’s more convenient to schedule a service appointment to have trained and knowledgeable experts change your oil. You can find coupons, deals, and specials on oil changes and other maintenance services at a place near you with affordable prices.

Most places will be on the lookout for other car maintenance issues you may have overlooked if you change the oil yourself. They can recommend if you need a new air filter or other services performed, such as tire rotation or transmission flush, and dispose of the oil properly. If they find your car needs a part, they can easily order it for you.

Healthy Oil Means a Healthy Engine

Maintaining healthy oil in your vehicle means you’re extending the life of your engine. By checking and changing the oil frequently, you can enjoy your vehicle for years to come. Make sure you take the time to cover this routine maintenance before you experience costly problems.