Everything About Engine Oil: How to Check, When to Change, When to Add

Keeping up with regular oil changes in your vehicle is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways of keeping your vehicle running smoothly. Engine oil is responsible for lubricating a large majority of the fast moving parts of the engine, it is used to cool internal engine components, can remove sludge from the engine, and even help improve the vehicle’s gas mileage. It is important to know that most newer vehicles have an oil monitoring system that keeps up with the mileage since last oil change as well as accounting for personal driving habits to protect your vehicle from damage due to not having the oil changed regularly.

The recommendation for how often the engine oil should be changed used to be every 3,000 miles or every 3 months (whichever comes first) but with technological improvements consumers can go longer between oil changes without risk of damaging the engine. There are a couple of different options available for newer vehicles: conventional oil is closest to what used to be put into vehicles, vehicles manufactured to use this type of oil can go 5,000-7,5000 miles between oil changes while synthetic oil is a somewhat man-made oil that allows consumers to go up to 10,000-15,000 miles between oil changes without causing engine damage.


Most newer cars come with manufacture’s recommendations to use synthetic oil in the vehicle due to the increased amount of time allowed between oil changes as well as the fact that not only is synthetic oil a better performing oil it is also better for the environment due to the fact that it produces fewer emissions. Engine oil should be checked at least once a month with the dipstick (found under the hood, usually with a yellow or orange handle to the left of the engine) to check for proper oil level and color.


It is easy to check the engine oil, simply follow these steps: once the engine has had a proper amount of time to warm up (approximately 15 minutes) park the vehicle on level ground, turn off the engine and allow a few minutes for settling of fluids, remove the dipstick and wipe clean with a rag or other old cloth, reinsert the dipstick and wait a moment before removing the dipstick to check the oil level. The oil level should not be below the minimum line found on the dipstick, if it is then oil needs to be added to the engine.


While checking your oil it is also important to note the color and consistency of the oil, if it is black and gritty it is recommended to change the oil as soon as possible. If the oil has metal shavings in it the recommendation is to take it to an automotive repair facility to have the vehicle checked out because metal shavings could indicate a serious internal engine problem.

Engine oil changes do not have to be complicated, if your vehicle is in need of an oil change you may be able to do it yourself or take it to an auto repair facility and have them do it for you. If you decide to do it yourself be sure to use the correct oil and filter recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, which can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual.

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