One kind of car maintenance that is very important to have done is an oil change. While this is something that can easily be forgotten throughout the year, not changing the oil can lead to engine problems that can lead to an expensive repair or replacement. Here are some things to look for to tell if you need an oil change.
The Color and Texture of the Oil
A lot can be said about the engine oil simply by looking at the oil. Use your dipstick to take a sample of some of the oil, and wipe it with a white cloth to get a good look at it.
New engine oil will have a cream color to it, but will also be very smooth. As the oil becomes more used, it will take on a cloudy texture and become slightly darker. This oil is still fine, but it's an indication that the oil is no longer new.
The oil will progressively become darker and thicker as it becomes more contaminated. It will eventually turn dark brown before turning black. While black engine oil is certainly a reason to be concerned, you should also pay attention to the texture as well. Dark oil that has a thick texture to it is very contaminated and should be replaced immediately.
The Smell of the Oil
New motor oil will run pretty smoothly through the engine, and should not produce any noticeable smell when driving your car. Be concerned if you start to smell something similar to burning fuel. These are the contaminants in oil burning up as they make their way through the hot engine, and as an indication that you need an oil change.
A faint smell of oil can also be an indication of an oil leak. Look for a puddle underneath your parked car to confirm any suspicions you may have
Your Driving Conditions
While many mechanics recommend changing the oil after 3,000 miles, you may need to change your oil less often. If you're in retirement and barely driving your car, that oil change may be able to wait until you reach 5,000 or even 7,500 miles. You only need to change the oil after 3,000 miles if you tow heavy items, drive long distances at low speed, frequently drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or drive on dirt roads that can get kicked up and contaminate the oil. When in doubt, use the color, texture, and smell to determine if the oil change is necessary.