How to Know When Your Vehicle Needs an Oil Change

Ideally, you know your vehicle needs an oil change when you’ve reached the date or mileage on the windshield sticker from your last oil change. But, stickers get smudged or removed, people get busy, and all of a sudden, your vehicle may be well overdue for an oil change. If you have no handy sticker or built-in maintenance light to prompt you to visit Quanz Auto Body for an oil change, there are other ways you can tell the time has come.

Oil Change Dash Indicator

Most modern vehicles have indicators programmed to illuminate as manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedules approach. So, your vehicle may tell you when it’s time for an oil change by lighting up your “Check Engine” or “Check Oil” or “MAINT REQD” signal.

Never ignore your dash indicators. If you’re not sure what these lights mean, you can get the codes read at any local auto parts store or Quanz Auto Body.

Visual Inspection of Your Oil

One of the easiest and most obvious ways to determine if your vehicle is ready for an oil change is to assess the condition of the oil. All you need is to know how to pop your hood and where to find the dipstick. To visually inspect your oil once you’ve located the dipstick:

  1. Pull the dipstick out and wipe clean with a paper towel
  2. Reinsert the dipstick all the way into the oil reservoir
  3. Pull out and note the color of the oil

If your oil is black, thin and/or has tiny particulate in it, it needs changing. If your oil is an amber color, it’s clean, so you have a while to go before your next oil change.

Characteristic Sounds and Smells of Old Oil

Because it’s so easy to do a visual inspection, there’s really no reason not to do one. Still, there are other indicators that your vehicle needs an oil change that do not require lifting the hood, such as:

Louder engine noise

Your engine generates power through the synchronized motion of dozens of moving parts, nearly all of them metal. When your oil is old and dirty, it allows more friction between these moving metal parts, and that creates more noise than what you usually hear when you run your car.

Burning smell

If there’s metal-on-metal scraping in your engine, the excess heat is likely to burn off any oil that’s left in the chamber, and you’ll smell it.

It is possible that your vehicle may need an oil change sooner than expected if it’s leaking or burning oil (i.e. allowing oil into the piston chamber to be combusted with the fuel-air mix). In that case, you may also notice bluish smoke in your exhaust.

Oil Changes Are Better Done Too Early than Too Late

The health of your engine depends on adequate lubrication. While you don’t want to waste money on too-frequent oil changes, it’s better to err on the side of caution rather than risk untimely engine wear and the expensive repairs that entails. But, when you bring your car to Quanz Auto Body, you never have to worry about your engine or your budget.

If you bring your vehicle to us, our ASE-technicians will honestly assess whether or not your car needs an oil change. If you don’t, we’ll let you know so that you can decide if you want to go ahead with service or wait…and we’ll tell you how long we think you can wait. Contact us or visit our Westside location for your routine vehicle maintenance.