Hands pouring oil into a funnel as part of an oil change

7 Warning Signs that It’s Time to Change Your Oil

Posted on by Gregory Wiesen
Categories: Oil Change, Oil Change & Essential Maintenance

Picture this: you’re out for a drive, enjoying a gorgeous, sunny spring-time day and relaxing a bit behind the wheel—all the stress of day-to-day life slipping away as you become one with your vehicle. That’s when the grinding begins—a loud, primordial sound that seems like it comes from the dawn of time, ushering in a new age of chaos and despair. But it’s not some unimaginable terror making that noise, it’s your engine, grinding and screeching horribly. You forgot to get an oil change, ignored the warning signs, and now your wonderful day is a monstrous ruin.

How do you avoid this terrible fate? Simple, listen to your vehicle and know when it is time for an oil change, then take your car, truck, or SUV to a service center and get the maintenance it needs to be done right. Oil changes are pretty quick, they’re inexpensive, and they can keep your vehicle running smoothly, so there is no reason not to get one done.

Plus, your vehicle can tell you in quite a few different ways that it is time to change your oil. Some of these are things you need to keep an eye on (or nose on) and check for yourself from time to time, but some of them are things your car will do to let you know it needs an oil change. Getting this routine maintenance done can save you a lot of time and money later on, so keep these things in mind.

The First Sign: Low Oil Level

These first two warning signs both require a little active participation on your part, but we promise they will be easy. You should regularly check the level and appearance of the motor oil in your engine. To do this, open the hood of your vehicle and find the dipstick that is in your engine for the oil level—you will only see the end of it, usually a loop or handle.

Make sure your vehicle is off and has cooled down before you do this, and also ensure you are parked on a level surface, not on an incline. Pull the stick out from the engine and use a piece of paper towel or old rag to wipe it off. Then plunge it back into the engine and pull it out again, this will give you an accurate read of your current oil level.

The dipstick will usually have two lines, and your oil level should fall between them—as long as it is, then you’re fine. If you are too low, then you should add some oil to your engine—use the same kind of oil that is already in it. If you notice that your oil is low repeatedly in a short period of time, then you may have a leak so you should come to Kings Quick Lane to have your oil changed and your engine checked for a leak.

The Second Sign: Oil Appears Dirty

While you are checking the level of your oil, you should also take a moment to look at the oil and its appearance. Oil in good condition is mostly clear, though tinted with a sort of amber coloration—you should be able to see through it pretty well. If the oil is very dark or black and hard to see through, or you notice a lot of gunk and solids in the oil, then it is dirty and needs to be replaced.

Dirty oil does not lubricate the parts of your engine properly. By getting an oil change when you notice it is dirty, you can avoid much more serious issues.

A mechanic is cleaning the dipstick to check the oil in a vehicle.

The Third Sign: Smoke from Your Exhaust

When you start your vehicle and you are driving, keep an eye out for any smoke that might come from the back of your vehicle. It is normal to see some white vapor coming out of your exhaust, especially when the weather is cold. If you see gray or black smoke, however, then that is a severe warning sign of an issue.

This can commonly be caused by oil that is burning because your engine is too hot or there is a leak. Either way, you should get to our service center immediately to have the engine looked at, and your oil changed. If there is an excessive amount of smoke, you may want to have your vehicle towed rather than risk a fire.

The Fourth Sign: Strong Smell of Oil

You should never smell oil or gasoline while you are driving your vehicle. If you do notice the smell of oil, often mixed with the smell of gas, then that is a warning sign of a serious issue with your engine. Again, this can be indicative of an oil leak or other problem with your engine. Come to Kings Quick Lane right away—make sure you drive with your windows down to keep fumes out of the cabin of your vehicle or have your car towed if the smell is dangerously strong.

The Fifth Sign: Loud Engine Noises

As a driver, you should know what your vehicle normally sounds like—pay attention to this sound when you get a new vehicle so you are familiar and comfortable with it. Strange and loud noises from your engine can be a serious warning sign of a lot of different issues. Loud noises or knocking from your engine can mean the parts are not lubricated properly, which often indicates the need for an oil change.

The Sixth Sign: Oil Change or Check Engine Light

Depending on your vehicle, you have either a single check engine light, or both a check engine and oil change light on your dashboard. When either of these lights is illuminated, it is a warning sign from your vehicle that something is wrong or that it is time for routine maintenance. If you see one of these lights illuminate, then bring your vehicle to Kings Quick Lane right away so we can figure out what’s happening and make sure your vehicle is safe and secure.

You may have heard jokes or watched scenes in movies where someone keeps driving while ignoring a check engine light for days or weeks. We assure you, the reality of this is much less hilarious and much more expensive and dangerous. Take your check engine light seriously and act on it right away.

The Seventh Sign: Mileage Reminder

One of the most common signs that it’s time for an oil change is simply keeping track of when you had your last one and how long you should wait for your next one. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will tell you exactly how long or how many miles you should go between oil changes. Assuming there are no other issues and signs indicating you need an oil change, once that time has passed or you have driven that many miles, then come to Kings Quick Lane for an oil change. Even if everything else with your vehicle is in great condition, the oil simply breaks down over time and needs to be replaced.

Come to Kings Quick Lane and Get Back on the Road Fast

Don’t wait for disaster to strike or for a problem with your engine to become catastrophic. A quick and inexpensive oil change can keep you safely on the road and help you avoid much more costly repairs or service in the future. At Kings Quick Lane, our professionals are factory-trained to keep your vehicle in good running order. Call today to make an appointment, or stop by and we’ll get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

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