When it comes to vehicle maintenance, there’s no service you’ll need as frequently as an oil change. It may seem inconvenient, but oil changes are essential for extending the life of your engine and keeping it well maintained.
Oil breaks down and becomes dirty over time, losing its ability to keep all the moving components within the engine properly lubricated. This creates friction, with harsh metal on metal contact that can cause engine damage. Since fresh oil reduces friction, it also helps keep the engine running cooler. Another reason regular oil changes are important? By removing the old oil and replacing the filter, it removes dirt, dust, and other particles that can lead to the accumulation of engine sludge.
Traditionally, oil changes were recommended at every 3,000 – 5,000 miles, but most new vehicles now run on synthetic oil, which should be changed every 5,000 – 7,500 miles. It’s always best to refer to your owner’s manual to find the recommendations for your specific make and model. Or, give our friendly service advisors a call and they can look it up for you.
So, if you aren’t sure how long it’s been since your last oil change, how can you tell it might be time? Here are a few signs:
- Excessive vehicle exhaust – Modern vehicles have little to no visible exhaust, so if you see smoke trailing behind your vehicle, it could be an indication that your motor oil is too old to work properly. However, it can also be caused by engine problems like cracked gaskets, so it’s recommended you schedule an appointment to have the issue addressed as soon as possible.
- A knocking sound while driving – As previously mentioned, motor oil lubricates the engine so that all parts are able to work together smoothly. When the oil becomes thin, old, or gritty from debris, it can cause a knocking sound in the engine while the vehicle is in motion.
- Ticking sounds when starting the engine – When you start your car, the engine immediately begins to circulate the oil. If the oil is dirty, this can take more time and effort than it should. You might hear a ticking noise from the valves while the engine warms up.
- Low oil level or dark oil – Checking your oil at home is a great way to keep an eye on your oil and catch potential problems. If it’s been too long since your last oil change, your oil levels might read below the minimum. Clean oil is a translucent amber color, so if you notice your oil seems dark and gritty, it’s definitely time for an oil change.
- Shaking while idling – Increased friction in your engine can cause changes in the way your car feels- especially while idling. You may feel an abnormal amount of vibration or shaking motions.
An important thing to remember is if you’ve recently taken a long road trip, you’re putting more miles on your vehicle that you normally would. That means your oil change will be due sooner than if you were driving your normal mileage. Another consideration? Older vehicles often need more frequent oil changes, so even if you’ve kept up with the recommended schedule, this can change over time. Our service advisors can offer you recommendations on the best schedule for your vehicle based on its make, model, age, and mileage.
If it’s been some time since your last oil change or you’ve noticed any of the above signs, give your closest Gurney’s Automotive Repair a call or request your appointment online.