If you're searching for “how to know if engine oil needs to be changed,” below are ten important signs to look for:
- Oil level
- Oil color
- Oil consistency
- Weird noises
- Warning lights
- Driving condition
- Owners manual
- Strange smells
- Weird smoke
- Reduce fuel efficiency
One of the common regular means you must keep up with is oil changes. You need to change the oil because it goes bad over time, and it won't be able to do the expected job, which might damage the engine.
While there are some details about how often you should change your motor oil, sometimes it might not go well earlier and require replacing it before then. Therefore, it is critical for you as a car owner to understand the main symptoms indicating that engine oil.
This article provides you with ten important symptoms to watch to help you answer the question, “How to you know if engine oil needs to be changed?
Why is it important to change the motor oil?
Before we dive into the details about “how to know if engine oil needs to be changed,” it's important for you as an owner to understand the purpose of the motor oil in the first place and how critical it is to change it when it goes bad.
As you might already know, the engine has many metal components interacting. As they interact, they cause a lot of friction, leading to overheating. Since the engine must operate within a certain temperature range, it needs something to address this excess temperature so it does not overheat and get damaged.
Luckily, the motor oil is added to help eliminate friction and reduce potential situations where your engine gets overheated because of this fracture. Therefore, you must keep up with the oil quantity and quality to maintain your engine.
Unfortunately, the oil is not designed to last forever, and there will be a point where you have to change it because it either goes bad or you might need to top it off, especially if it goes below the minimum point.
Your vehicle owner manuals would have detailed information to help you understand how often you should change your motor oil and what type of oil you must choose. Everything will be different depending on your driving vehicle.
How do we know if the engine oil needs to be changed?
When your motor oil goes bad, it leads to many problems and could damage the entire engine. Therefore, you must change it before getting to certain situations where things are out of hand.
The following list summarizes the ten most important symptoms indicating a bad engine oil requiring you to change it as soon as possible:
1- Oil level
One of the easiest and first things you need to do to confirm whether you need to change your oil is to check the oil level. Typically, when the oil goes bad, it might drop because the engine starts consuming it as it runs, but it might also leak somewhere outside the vehicle.
You can follow recommendations by automotive experts to help you use the dipstick to check on the current motor oil. Your vehicle owner's manual should have details about where to find this dipstick, and you can find many resources to help you perform the oil check.
2- Oil color
Another thing you could do is to confirm that the oil is of good quality. In other words, not only do you have to keep the oil quantity, but you also need to make sure that it's working properly. Because it's not, there's no point in having as much oil as needed.
Therefore, as we check the dipstick when looking into the oil level, we must look at its color. Typically, as the oil gets older, it becomes very dark, and it collects a lot of contaminants and debris running around the engine.
This could be an initial sign to help you identify whether your engine oil needs to be changed. Your mechanic will be the final person to make the final call about what and how often you should change the oil and whether it's really to be changed now.
3- Oil consistency
In addition to the oil color, sometimes its consistency might change. In other words, an internal problem might get your oil mixed with another fluid, like the coolant; in that case, you'll see that the oil consistency is changing.
You're all consistency must stay the same to be able to operate properly and to prevent engine overheating. If oil gets mixed with anything else, it won't be able to lubricate the engine properly, and the engine might continue to overheat until it gets self-destructed.
For example, if the motor oil gets mixed with coolant, it will have a consistency more like a milkshake. You can check that by looking at the oil cap, which could help you tell whether there is a problem with the oil.
4- Weird noises
Sometimes, you will start dealing with weird noises if you forget about oil changes and ignore them for a long time. Some of these noises are more like ticking noises, and others are more severe, like banging or other grinding noises.
As a rule of thumb, automotive experts recommend never ignoring any strange noises from your car. Regardless of where these noises come from, you must address the problem immediately.
Think of these noises as just a way for your card to communicate and bring your attention to internal problems. In general, when the noises are very small and quiet, it indicates that the problem is just starting. However, as the problem evolves, the noise problem becomes clearer, and you'll notice that every time you perform a certain action.
5- Warning lights
Another thing you could look for to determine whether your engine is due for an oil change is monitoring the warning lights. The warning lights are another way for your vehicle to communicate with you and bring your attention to internal problems.
One of the first warning lights you might come across is the low oil pressure, which indicates that there's not enough oil or some oil leaks within the system. That's why you must dress as soon as possible, and sometimes you won't be able to drive your car.
Another thing you could notice is a check engine light formatting. Sometimes, it can be challenging to determine what exactly is causing this check engine light because it can be linked to many problems. Therefore, your mechanic must scan the internal computer error and confirm what's happening.
6- Driving condition
You'll see it's not operating properly when you drive a car with bad engine oil. In other words, coming to feel that the car is stressed out might translate into a loss of power and other troubles.
That's why you have to keep an eye and ear on your vehicle's behavior to monitor for any changes. This could help you identify the problem before it gets complicated and the repair costs are very expensive.
7- Owners Manual
You can refer to your vehicle owner's manual if you cannot confirm whether your engine oil needs to be changed with these symptoms. The manual will have detailed information about what type of oil to use, how often you should change the motor oil and more details.
You can't rely only on that as the main source of information about whether you should change the oil because sometimes problems require an immediate oil change.
8- Strange smells
Another thing you should look for when you suspect your engine needs an oil change is the weird smells. Sometimes, monitoring some weird burning smell might indicate something burning or getting hot inside the engine.
9- Weird smoke
If the oil is getting bad because of a problem of mixing it with the coolants, you'll see other symptoms, like some visible white exhaust smoke coming from the tailpipe. This is not a common situation; if it happens, you must check what's causing the problem before changing the motor oil.
10- Reduce fuel efficiency
Finally, reduced fuel efficiency is another common symptom indicating that your engine might need an oil change. When the engine is stressed out and it's not receiving the right lubrication, it might think that it needs more fuel, and that's why we'll lead it to consume more fuel than it should.
How to know if engine oil needs to be changed: Final Thoughts
When your motor oil goes bad, replace it immediately to avoid many complications. Understanding how often you should change the motor oil is detailed in the vehicle owner's manual. Still, sometimes, you might experience certain symptoms that could help you confirm a need for an immediate oil change.
This article highlighted ten important symptoms that could help answer the question, “How to you know if engine oil needs to be changed?” If you confirm these symptoms, your mechanic can double-check and change the motor oil to get your vehicle going again.
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