How Often Should You Check Your Engine’s Oil
Checking the oil life on a vehicle is one of the easiest tasks you can perform on your vehicle, but if it is neglected for a significant period of time, the engine can overheat and you will be at risk for eating the bill on a multiple thousand dollar repair job. Because it’s easy to avoid having to pay such a high price, there’s no excuse for not checking the oil on your vehicle periodically.
When You Should Check the Oil
It’s a good rule of thumb to check the oil on a vehicle at least once a month to ensure that it is frequently the right color and at a proper level. It is very common for engines to lose oil over time due to slow leaks, and there’s essentially know way of knowing this without periodically checking the oil. Likewise, engines are made to burn through oil over time. Engine oil does not last forever, and if it is left inside of the car for too long, it could have unfortunate effects on the livelihood of the engine.
Things to Note When Checking the Oil
When checking your oil, there are a few things you should most definitely look out for. Fresh oil that is still good for the engine will appear amber in color, but the more it ages, it will turn black.
Black or nearly black oil is bad for the engine and should be replaced as quickly as possible. Additionally, if the oil level is too low, more must be added as soon as possible.
There will be times when it will be imperative that you check your oil for problems immediately. For example, if the oil light is burning or blinking, it’s a good idea to check it as soon as possible. This light could indicate a problem with the oil quality or life.
You will know that your engine has little or no oil when you hear a clunking noise coming from your engine. Very little or no oil will cause the engine’s metal parts to touch without lubrication, causing overheating, grinding, and eventually a breakdown.
How to Check the Oil
You can avoid a problem with your vehicle breaking down due to poor oil life by checking the oil on a normal basis. Checking your vehicle’s oil doesn’t take long at all, and it is easy for practically anyone to do it.
Start by making sure your engine is on level ground, popping the hood of your car, and searching for the oil dipstick handle. Rear-wheel drive vehicles tend to have dipsticks near the middle, next to the engine. All-wheel drive vehicles have dispticks that are typically located towards the front of the engine. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with a lint-free, spotless rag.
Insert the dipstick into the pipe and pull it out once more. You will notice two lines or dots towards the bottom of the stick that indicate minimum and maximum levels of oil. If the oil film doesn’t exceed the minimum line, your car needs more oil. If it rests between the two extremes, the oil level is fine.
Next you need to consider the color of the oil. As previously stated, fresh oil is amber in color. Dirty oil is very dark or black in color and it needs to be changed as soon as possible to avoid damage to the engine.
If you can’t get to a mechanic for quite some time, buy a quart of your engine-specific oil to tie your vehicle over until you can get a proper oil change.