How to check if your car needs an oil change

When the oil change warning lights up, or you reach a certain amount of kilometers, it is imperative that you get fresh fluids as soon as you can. Motor oil is a lubricant that helps your engine function smoothly. Over time, it gets contaminated with dirt. This can cause several harmful effects or could lead to a complete seizure of the engine. Notably, Changing your car’s oil diligently will also save you money in the long run because rebuilding your car’s engine if something does go wrong down the line is costlier than religiously maintaining your automobile.  So how do you know when it’s time to change or replenish your car’s oil?

The quick answer is to bring your car to the nearest dealership for Preventive Maintenance Service (PMS) every 5,000 to 10,000 km or every 3 to 6 months, whichever comes first and depending on the vehicle. In case you can’t visit the dealership that often, here’s a quick way to gauge if you need to pour in a few liters to get your car serviced.

Before proceeding with the inspection, make sure the engine is cold or has been off for at least 15-minutes. Search for the oil dipstick which may vary depending on the engine’s layout. 

For safety, wear gloves and gently pull out the dipstick and wipe the oil off on a clean rag then put it back in. If it doesn’t slide in, try to rotate the dipstick to allow it to naturally bend according to the pipes curve.

Pull the dipstick

Pull the dipstick out again and check the oil residue at the end of the stick. See if the oil build-up starts an inch or two from the end. If so, this means that the engine still has sufficient oil in it. On the other hand, if it’s less than an inch then you’ll have to add more oil. In addition, most dipstick has an indicator (Add-Full) which would enable you to gauge if your car’s running low on oil. 

Check the color of your oil

The color of the oil and its texture can also be a sign that you’re either good to go or need to change it. First thing is to check if its color is close to a golden brown, which will indicate that it is fresh motor oil. If the oil is too dark or black, then it’s time to change.

You can also rub a bit of oil in between your index finger and thumb. If it leaves a dirty smudge, head over to the nearest dealership to get the oil replaced as soon as possible. This process is a simple do-it-yourself check that'll help you determine if your car needs to change its oil.  

Regardless of your oil’s condition, following your car’s PMS is a must in order to keep it in pristine condition. Plus, it should also save you from voiding your brand new car’s warranty, therefore, providing a vehicle with a coverage period of 2 to 5 years, or even up to 10 years. This is all dependent on the manufacturer’s policy as well. 

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