Is An Oil Change Necessary?

Regular oil checks are an essential part of overall car maintenance in order to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Car oil lubricates all the moving parts inside your engine but also cleans, cools and protects your engine to prevent seizing. It acts as a lubricating layer between moving metal parts including the crank, bearings, con rods, cylinders and even the turbocharger.

Whether you drive short or long distances between work, home or university, your car oil breaks down over time. When it does, the lubricating properties deteriorate leaving your engine susceptible to overheating. As a vehicle owner, your goal is to change your car oil before it breaks down and causes expensive and unnecessary engine problems.

So in a nutshell, an oil change is not only necessary, it is vital for effective car maintenance. The next step is knowing when to change your car oil and at Elite Garages, our professional and friendly staff are here to help.

How Do I Check My Oil?

Open the bonnet of your car and locate the dipstick which is easily identifiable as it is ring-shaped and protrudes from the engine. Remove the dipstick all the way and wipe with a clean cloth for a clear reading. Put it back into the engine and remove once again for a more accurate oil level reading. Most dipsticks are marked in two places to identify the minimum and maximum levels but always check your vehicle manual if you need additional information. To maintain optimum performance, the oil level should not go below the minimum mark and you should also not overfill the engine.

How Often Should I Change My Car Oil?

While many mechanics recommend changing your car oil every 6,000 miles, it greatly depends on how you drive, how old your engine is, and where you live. Vehicle manufacturers often recommend 6,000 miles and even longer intervals of 10,000 miles if you use special synthetic oil.

If you drive an older car, oil changes are generally based on mileage and involve two types of maintenance schedules. The first is for cars driven in “normal” conditions while the second refers to “severe conditions” which includes the following:

  • Predominantly short trips (5 miles or less)
  • Driving in extreme climates (hot, cold, or dusty)
  • Sustained stop-and-go driving
  • Transporting heavy loads or towing a trailer

For the majority of drivers, changing the car oil every 6,000 miles would probably be just fine. There are some service centres that will always recommend an oil change but if you drive under normal conditions, it is not necessary. Be wary of spending your hard-earned money on oil changes and other maintenance work that your car may not even need.

Signs Your Oil Needs Changing

One of the first things many of us will notice is the dashboard warning light. Your car manufacturer would have set it to remind you at the correct interval that your car oil needs replacing. This is different to the oil pressure light which indicates that you are driving with insufficient oil. If you see the light with dripping oil, safely pull over and switch off your engine immediately to avoid permanent damage.

A visual oil colour check is not foolproof but it can provide you with some idea of the overall condition. If the oil on the dipstick is very dark or have turned almost black, it’s a first sign you need an oil change. When left unchanged, your car oil will gather more particulates which can cause a build-up of gunk in the engine. Another important aspect is the oil consistency. The best way to check is to take a bit of oil from the dipstick and rub it between your thumb and forefinger. If you can feel any granules or grit, you may need an oil change.

While driving more or longer distances may not necessarily require an oil change, you should consult your vehicle manual first. Some manufacturers and service centres recommend changing the oil every 6,000 miles but with better synthetic engine oil, it is possible to increase the intervals.

If you notice that your oil level keeps dropping below the minimum mark after topping up the oil, your car might be in trouble. This can either indicate an oil leak or that the oil is no longer doing what it is supposed to and an oil change is needed.

Lastly, pay close attention to engine noise. If it’s making more or different sounds than before, it could mean an oil change is imminent. Old car oil doesn’t lubricate as it should and if left unattended for too long, some of the moving parts will start grinding against one another. This can result in major damage to your engine and subsequently other car parts as well.

Car Maintenance With Elite Garages

If you see the oil warning light on your dashboard and don’t know what to do, contact your local branch. Elite Garages’ trained technicians can carry out a free oil check and identify any potential issues. When you need an oil change, we only use the oil that your vehicle manufacturer recommends.

We always offer our customers full transparency, no hidden costs and the highest level of customer service you would expect from a family run business. Whether you’re a business owner, student or enjoying retirement, we provide better value than dealerships without compromising on quality and efficiency.

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