If you aren’t a car lover, motor oil may just seem like another fluid you have to top off now and again but can otherwise ignore. In reality, it’s essential for keeping your engine running.
Car oil serves three main functions. It keeps your engine cool, flushes away corrosive particles, and lubricates the moving parts. If it stops doing any of those things, your engine could suffer massive damage.
What happens if you avoid getting an oil change for too long, and how do you know when it’s time to get one? To find out, keep reading for all the oil change basics you need to know.
What Happens if You Don’t Get an Oil Change
Going too long between oil changes can quickly wreak havoc on your car’s engine.
As mentioned before, oil flushes corrosive particles out of your engine system. Over time, these particles build up and reduce the oil’s effectiveness. Old oil also begins to break down at a chemical level, making it an ineffective lubricant.
If you never get your oil changed or add more, your engine could run out of oil entirely. In either case, the result is the same: your engine parts can corrode, jam, and even build up so much heat that they smoke or catch fire. The result is a totaled engine that, much of the time, isn’t worth repairing or replacing.
Signs You Need an Oil Change
Aside from watching your mileage, here are a few signs that it’s time to change your oil right away:
- The oil is dark brown, black, or gritty when you check the dipstick
- Your oil levels keep dropping (this may require further repairs)
- Engine noises
- “Check engine” light stays on
- Your car shakes when it idles
If you ever get to the point where your “check oil” light comes on, stop driving. The only place you should take your car at this point is the closest mechanic’s shop.
How Often Should You Change Your Oil?
Even if you know how to change the oil on your own, do you know how often you should be doing it?
The number one factor in oil change frequency is the type of motor oil you use. Fully synthetic oils last the longest, followed by hybrid synthetics. Conventional motor oil is the least expensive option, but it also needs to be changed the most.
Other notable factors include:
- The age of your car: cars need more frequent oil changes as they get older
- How often you drive: the higher your annual mileage, the more often you should change your oil
- The climate: extreme cold and heat can both increase your need for oil changes
Your mechanic considers all these factors when they recommend a date for your next appointment. As long as you follow their instructions and check your oil levels regularly, you shouldn’t run into problems.
Don’t Neglect Regular Car Maintenance
Getting your oil changed on schedule may seem like a hassle. Even so, the consequences of only topping off low oil or ignoring it entirely aren’t worth a missed appointment. Keeping up with regular maintenance like oil changes extends the life of your vehicle and helps you avoid costly car repairs.
Whether you need an oil change, brake check, or another service, the mechanics at Dependable Car Care in Ventura, CA have your back. Give us a call or schedule your appointment online to take advantage of complete neighborhood auto services you can trust.