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5 Signs Your Car’s Engine Oil Needs Changing

It’s the lifeblood of your car, but it rarely gets the attention it deserves. Without engine oil, we quite simply aren’t going anywhere. This viscous liquid lubricates and cleans vital moving parts that would otherwise seize up and suffer serious (and expensive) damage. Despite its key role, most car owners leave its maintenance to the general car service, which (at best) occurs once a year. The reality is, however, that your engine oil may have stopped performing as required long before that 12-month check-up comes around.  

Why You Should Consider In-Between Oil Change Services

How often should you have your engine oil replaced? The internet will provide you with a range of answers. The correct one depends mostly upon your driving, and if you live in the city, it’s probably more often than you think. Here’s why.

If your driving consists mostly of short trips and lots of starting and stopping (typical city driving), your engine probably isn’t generating enough heat to boil off accumulating condensation. This condensation causes oil to break down faster.

These shorter trips also put more strain on your engine than longer drives at higher speeds. This means the oil collects more debris from moving parts, breaking it down quicker and thinning it out.

By the time the typical 12-month service comes around, your engine oil is no longer doing its job, and vital components have spent months unprotected, grinding into each other and suffering serious damage. The expense of an in-between oil change at around the six month mark is pennies compared to replacing compromised parts that simply needed some fresh oil.

Now let’s take a look at some tell-tale signs that you’re overdue for an oil change service.

5 signs that mean you need an engine oil change/service

  1. The Oil Change light is on. Cars are intelligent, so pay attention when they communicate. If the change oil light comes on, it means there isn’t enough oil in the system. Usually this means it has been a long time between oil changes, and whatever oil is left is probably degraded and useless anyway. In the worst cases, the check engine light will come on, indicating that vital parts are now experiencing damage. Get thee to a mechanic, pronto.

  2. Exhaust smoke. We’ve seen it and we’ve smelled it, and it’s always a sign that something needs attention. Dirty, dark smoke coming from the exhaust can be caused by several issues, one of which is an oil leak. Get it checked.

  3. Dirty oil. Engine oil starts off as a beautiful, clean, amber fluid. Over time, it accumulates grit and debris from the engine and slowly darkens. Check the dip stick: if the oil is so dark you cannot see the stick through it, it’s past time for an oil change service.

  4. Knocking sounds. As we’ve explained, engine oil lubricates moving parts and protects them as they bump and grind into each other. If you hear odd knocking sounds coming from the engine, it could mean the oil is no longer doing its job and your engine is slowly tearing itself apart.

  5. Smelly oil. The smell of burning oil usually means there’s not enough in the system and the engine is overheating, causing the oil that remains to burn. Get it drained and replaced.

  6. Sludge inside the engine.  When you open the oil filler cap and can see awful black or brown solidified sludge, that’s not good.  Oil that is stressed by contaminants and oxidation, or if it has to work longer that it was really designed to, will break down into a gel that sticks to your engine parts. As the gel or sludge sticks, there is less good oil to circulate and do its protective job.  A sludge contaminated engine is being damaged every minute it’s operating. Sludge can also block up oil galleries and pipes, resulting in loss of oil pressure. This lack of oil pressure and flow can cause catastrophic component failures like worn timing chains and bearing failures.

Keep your engine in good health with in-between oil change services

There’s nothing more important to the health of your car than its engine oil. Fortunately, it’s relatively inexpensive and will always do its job if replaced in a timely manner. If you have noticed any of the signs above, or it’s been longer than six months since it your engine oil was changed, book in with BM Tech for an oil change service. Your car will be grateful.

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