Signs That Indicate Your Car Needs an Oil Change

Tires plus technician cleaning off oil dip stick

When it comes to taking care of your car, regular oil changes are essential for maintaining a healthy engine. Neglecting this crucial service puts your entire engine at risk. The challenge, however, is knowing when it’s time for an oil change. With our busy lives, we often overlook the signs. If your vehicle has been acting up lately, pay attention. Here are six telltale signs that indicate it’s time to get an oil change as soon as possible.

1. Unusual Engine Noises

Motor oil plays a vital role in lubricating your engine’s parts, ensuring smooth and efficient operation. Old oil loses its lubricating properties, leaving your engine vulnerable to friction and unnecessary wear. If you hear knocking, grinding, or even a loud roaring sound coming from your engine, it’s a sign that your vehicle is overdue for an oil change. Ignoring these noises can lead to long-term damage. Stay on top of regular oil changes to reduce the risk of engine malfunction and premature wear.

2. Burning Smell Inside the Cabin

While some smells in your car are normal, the scent of something burning is not. Motor oil not only lubricates your engine but also helps regulate its temperature by keeping it cool. When the oil gets old and dirty, it fails to perform this crucial function. As a result, you may experience a sharp burning smell inside the cabin. In some cases, this smell could indicate an oil leak, which can lead to expensive repairs if not addressed promptly. If you detect a nose-wrinkling odor inside your car, it’s time for an oil change.

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3. Changes in Oil Consistency

Some signs that you need an oil change require a bit more effort to identify. Fortunately, you can visually inspect your oil from the comfort of your driveway. Here’s how:

  • Wait for the engine to cool down and then open the hood.
  • Locate the oil dipstick (refer to your owner’s manual if necessary) and remove it from the oil reservoir.
  • Wipe the dipstick with a paper towel, reinsert it, and pull it out to observe the consistency and color of the oil.

If the oil appears translucent and yellowish, it’s in good condition. However, if it’s dark, that’s usually okay too, as oil tends to darken with engine use. Pay more attention to the consistency. Over time, oil accumulates dirt and debris, becoming grittier. If your oil feels thick and grainy, it’s a sign that you need an oil change.

4. Low Oil Level

Allowing your oil level to become dangerously low is a major issue. Going too long between oil changes can deplete your oil, leading to an increased risk of breakdowns and permanent engine damage, especially in hot weather. While checking your oil’s consistency, pay attention to the level as well. The dipstick will indicate whether the oil is low, good, or high. If you notice that your oil level is on the low side, schedule an oil change as soon as possible.

5. Dashboard Warning Lights

Some vehicles have specific dashboard lights that indicate when it’s time for an oil change. In other cases, a “Maintenance Required” or “Check Engine” light may illuminate, which can also signal other issues. To be safe, bring your car to your nearest Tires Plus location for a free courtesy check. Our technicians will diagnose the issue and advise you on whether you need an oil change or any other service. Remember, we’re here to offer advice, not pressure you.

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6. Adhering to Manufacturer Guidelines

If you’re unsure how often to change your oil, follow your manufacturer’s recommendation. Oil change intervals can vary significantly depending on your vehicle’s make and model. Consult your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for the best oil change interval for your car. Car dealerships may also send reminders via postcard or email to ensure you stay on schedule. While you don’t have to go back to the dealership, it’s beneficial to heed this helpful reminder. Additionally, check the inside of your windshield on the driver’s side for a reference sticker from your last oil change provider.

When Should You Get an Oil Change?

If you’re uncertain about whether you need an oil change or what type of engine oil is right for your vehicle, Tires Plus technicians are here to help. We make caring for your car hassle-free. Find our best oil change coupons online and visit your nearest Tires Plus today for expert advice and a quick oil change. For more information about automotive maintenance and other topics, visit 5 WS.

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