You’re probably familiar with the rule of thumb that you should change your oil every 3 months/3,000 miles. While you might be wondering if regular oil maintenance is really that important, we’ll show you why maintenance schedules such as this exist. Although your car won’t self-destruct if you miss regular service by a few days, it could hurt it in the long run.
First, let’s look at the basics of your engine. In order to provide power, your engine relies on a series of metal-on-metal processes, from the piston to the crankshaft. Though every part of your engine is milled and polished to near-perfection, oil is still needed to ensure everything runs smoothly. Without it, friction can cause wear and tear, as well as excessive heat, which leads to a shorter lifespan and expensive repairs for your car.
Regular oil changes make sure that fresh oil is circulating throughout your engine. If you don’t get an oil change every so often, dirt will accumulate in the system, and oil will lose precious chemical components like detergents, dispersants, and rust-fighters. Don’t worry – missing your maintenance schedule by a day or two is no big deal; however, the days can add up quickly, leading to serious problems down the road.
Worried about environmental impact? Most modern motor oil is made from recycled and synthetic sources. Plus, changing your oil regularly tends to maintain performance and fuel economy, as well as lower emissions.
For owners that want to extend the life of their car, increase performance, and avoid expensive repairs, something as simple as regular oil changes can really make a difference.
We’ve gone over why it’s important to get regular oil changes, but there’s also some maintenance you should be doing between oil changes. Every few hundred miles, you should be checking your oil level.
Checking and potentially refilling your oil is a simple way to help your car run smoothly. It’s easy and convenient to do it at a gas station, where you’ll have access to buy more oil if necessary.
Make sure you’re parked on a level surface. With the engine turned off, pop the hood.
Look for the dipstick that says “engine oil.”
Pull on the handle (see photo to the left) and a long stick will come out with oil on the end of it. Using a paper towel, wipe off the end of the stick, reinsert it into its home, then pull it out again.
Now take a reading of the dipstick. Most dipsticks have markers on them to indicate how much oil you have. If your car’s oil level is below the “Full” marker, head in to buy some oil.
The dipstick should also have lines or dots to indicate how many quarts of oil you need. If the oil line doesn’t reach one of the dots, you’ll need one quart of oil, and so on.
Make sure to check your owner’s manual and purchase the correct type of oil.
Once you’ve purchased your oil, you can refill the tank. Near the dipstick, you’ll find a knob that says “Engine Oil.” Remove the knob and pour as much oil as necessary into the tank, being careful not to overfill it.
Replace the cap, close the hood, and go about your day!
Checking and adding oil to your car is a simple task that can save you money in the long run!
The Role of Your Oil Filter
Because motor oil is constantly running through your engine, it starts to accumulate small metal particles and other materials that wear down the engine’s surface. This is where the oil filter comes in—oil is forced through it, and it catches the particles so that the oil stays clean for longer.
Of course, getting regular oil changes is still important. Oil filters become less effective over time, and oil gets dirty. How often you should get an oil change depends on your vehicle and how old it is. Check with your dealer or your owner’s manual to find out what the suggested interval is.
You should regularly check your oil to make sure it’s not too dirty because even if it’s before your mileage interval, seriously dirty oil should be changed. If you have a fairly new car, checking your oil about once a month should be fine. If it’s low, just pour a little more in, making sure it’s the right kind of oil for your car, as suggested by your manual.
You could also have problems with your oil filter getting clogged. If you notice poor performance, a low oil pressure gauge, dirty exhaust, sputtering, or metallic sounds from the engine, you should get your oil filter checked immediately.