“Every three months or 3,000 miles” — that’s probably how often you were taught to change your car’s oil. But the truth is that those numbers are outdated and better suited to older cars. Modern automobiles, especially those manufactured in the past decade or so, can stomach far more road wear and general usage than your dad’s old Ford Pinto or Dodge Dart. Realistically, you probably won’t need an oil change until about six months after your last one.
Still, that doesn’t mean modern cars are super-machines. And the more you drive them, the more maintenance they need. Stop-and-go traffic, extreme temperature fluctuations and poor road conditions can all do damage to your car’s oil reserves, and oil plays a crucial role in keeping your engine lubricated so it won’t overheat and shut down. So, how often should you change your oil? When you see any one of these three warning signs, you’d better get your car into a auto repair services shop immediately.
The dreaded “Check Engine” service light
We often fear our car’s dashboard notifications because we consider them nuisances that we simply don’t have the time to deal with. But when the “Check Engine” or “Change Engine Oil” light flicks on, you can’t ignore it because it’s inconvenient. Motor oil helps keep your engine cool, and the sooner you change it out, the more functionality your car will have both on and off the road.
Unusual rattling or clunking noises
How often should you change your oil? The most common telltale sign of impending car maintenance tends to be the call of the wild heard under the hood of most older autos. One of motor oil’s biggest jobs is to reduce the noise level inside the engine by reducing friction between moving parts. So the more noises you hear (and the louder they are), the more likely it is that you’re in need of an oil change service.
Black, dirty oil inside your engine
If you’re more of a DIY auto junkie, try your hand at extracting your engine’s oil yourself. Fresh, healthy motor oil should be slightly translucent and honey-colored, so if your oil is black and spotted with dirt, it’s definitely time to change it out. You can do this yourself or bring it into a service shop, but the best oil changes tend to be the ones performed by auto experts. The best part about motor oil? It’s recyclable, so save your old oil in a can and bring it into a shop for professional cleaning.
Now that you’ve become a pro in the field of engine oil maintenance, it’s important not to neglect the other essential parts of your car as well. When you check your oil levels, check your tire pressure and your fuel lines, too. New tires often go hand-in-hand with other custom vehicular updates. Now, how often should you change your oil? You should be an expert in that field by now. Great references here.