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Does my car need an oil change?

Your car's engine is an advanced piece of machinery, constantly working to keep your vehicle running and working properly. Engine oil is vital for lubricating all the moving parts of your engine as well as ensuring your engine won't seize up, get dirty, or overheat.

Engine oil needs changing regularly, however, and as the owner of your car, this is a responsibility that falls to you. In this blog post, we help you work out if your car needs an oil change and explain how to check your oil levels.

How do I know if my car’s engine oil needs changing?

There are several indicators to help you work out whether your car’s oil needs changing. To check the oil itself, you’ll need to open the bonnet of your car and take out the dipstick

Wipe it clean with a rag and reinsert it into the engine. With this, you’ll be able to check the minimum and maximum oil levels, as well as the quality, consistency, and colour of the oil itself.

You’ll know you’re due an oil change if any of the following are obvious:

The oil is black

When you first top up your engine oil, it will be a translucent light brown colour. Over time, engine oil starts to pick up particulates from the engine, causing it to turn black. Consistent heat cycles also cause oil to darken. If you notice that your car’s engine oil is black or darkened – it’s time for a change.

The oil is gritty and viscous (thick)

Rub some of the engine oil (cooled, taken from the end of the dipstick) between your thumb and forefinger. If you can feel coarseness or grit within it, the oil is due a change.

Although the oil filter is designed to catch engine contaminants and keep the oil as clean as possible, there comes a point where the oil simply cannot be used again.  The oil filter should always be changed with the engine oil.

The car’s oil level is dropping too fast

It’s worth checking your oil level fairly regularly to make sure they’re dropping normally. If your car’s oil levels drop more quickly than it should, your engine could be leaking, burning excessive amounts or the oil might need an urgent change.

The dashboard oil light is on

If you’re not in the habit of checking your oil regularly – get in the habit. However, if you get a little lax with your car maintenance, most modern cars will keep track of your oil’s performance and the dashboard oil light will illuminate when your car is due a change.

If your car is displaying the oil can with a drip coming from the nozzle, stop the car and turn off the engine immediately – this is the oil pressure dashboard light and only illuminates when you are driving with insufficient oil, which can lead to permanent engine damage.

Remember that it’s still worth checking your oil manually as sometimes the sensors connected to dashboard lights may not function correctly and the low oil level light will only come on once the level is extremely low.

The engine is making a lot of noise

As the owner of your car, you’ll be able to recognise when it starts making unusual noises. If your car’s engine starts to sound particularly noisy, you may need to address this by getting the engine checked out and replacing the oil.

Where can I get my car’s engine checked and oil changed?

Both of the Auto Care Group’s garages in Stockton; Teesdale, and Darlington, offer engine diagnostic checks and car servicing. Visit our service pages or book online today.