If there is one maintenance process you should be familiar with, it is changing your oil. Throughout your vehicle's life, you will change the oil more times than you will perform any other maintenance task. You may know how to change your oil, but, just as important, is knowing when it is time for an oil change. Here are some signs that you may need to change your oil:
When you look in your owner's manual, there should be a manufacturer recommendation for how often to change your vehicle's oil. The amount of miles will vary depending on the type and year of the vehicle.
Checking the quality of your oil is a great way to see if it needs to be changed. Oil has a sort of golden color to it when it is clean. But as it is used, it becomes dirty and it darkens. It may even contain particles. Dark oil with particles is usually a sign you need an oil change.
Sometimes, as you are driving down the street, you may notice your car is making abnormal sounds. Those sounds could be an especially loud (but regular) engine noise, or it could be what is called a “knocking sound.” Both of these sounds can be indicators that you need an oil change soon.
If your dashboard warning lights come on—particularly the check-engine or low-oil-pressure lights—then you may need to change your oil. Occasionally, these lights can come on because of something else, but they are generally a good gauge of when things are going wrong.
Regardless of how you determine an oil change is needed, make sure to get them in accordance with your owner's manual. The right amount of clean oil is essential to keeping your vehicle running smoothly.