One of the most important basic car maintenance activities is getting an oil change. For most cars, the longevity and performance of the engine is directly related to the engine oil. However, this is one of the most confusing maintenance activities for car owners. There are a ton of recommendations for how often engine oil should be changed and what kind of oil should be used, so it’s easy to see how consumers get confused about when to change their oil. Here are some suggestions from our expert mechanics on the best schedule for changing your engine oil.
Check Your Oil Levels
This is a great first indicator that your car may be due for an oil change. Periodically checking your oil levels and the clarity of your engine oil can tell you a lot about the timing of your oil change. For many car owners, this seems like a scary task, however checking your engine oil is relatively simple. Each car has a handy dipstick designed to tell you how much oil is in your engine. To check your oil level, turn off your car, and open the hood. Locate the oil dipstick. Pull out the dipstick and wipe any oil using a paper towel or rag. Replace the dipstick and pull it out again. Your dipstick will have some way to indicating oil level. It might be a pinhole, the letters L and H or an area of crosshatching. If the level in your engine is outside of the indicated area, it’s probably time for an oil change. You can also check the clarity of your oil. Dirty oil will be black or cloudy, so if your oil isn’t clear, this is another indication your car is due for an oil change.
But How Often?
If your oil level is fine, and your oil stays pretty clean, you probably want to get on a good routine of oil changes. There are some general suggestions about how often oil should be changed. The simplest answer here is to follow the vehicle manufacturer recommendations for changing engine oil. Many newer cars will tell you when it’s time, but if your car doesn’t, check the owner’s manual. This recommendation may change however as your car gets older, or if you drive a lot. If you are a heavy driver, you may want to replace your engine oil more frequently. On the flip side, low miles may mean you change your oil less frequently. No car however, should have fewer than two oil changes per year. This will significantly increase the life and performance of your engine.
What’s the Best Oil to Use?
If you are changing your own oil, there are tons of options from high mileage oils, synthetic oils, high performance oils, and regular engine oil. The type of oil you select should be based on how frequently you drive, the age of your car, and any special conditions that your car may be exposed to. No matter the type of oil you select, make sure you choose the right weight of oil for your engine. This information can be found in your car’s owner’s manual. If you chose to take your car to a mechanic for regular oil changes, it is important that you give the mechanic plenty of information about your normal driving conditions. This will allow them to put the right oil in your car, for the best possible performance. Your mechanic will also replace your oil filter, air filter and top off other fluid levels at the same time they change your oil. This routine maintenance will keep your car running well for as long as possible.
Changing your oil is an important part of car ownership. This simple task can make your car run great and last for as long as possible. If your car needs an oil change or if you aren’t sure how often your engine oil should be replaced, Car Guys Auto Center is here to help. Our vehicle experts will give you honest information about maintenance schedules that are right for your car. To schedule an appointment for an oil change or to learn more about our complete car care services, call us today at (586) 285-4444.