What is an oil change?
An oil change is a car repair process that involves removing used oil in your car’s engine to replace it with fresh oil. Engine oil is a lubricant, allowing the parts of your vehicle to operate without overheating or stopping.
Without a working oil filter, debris and particles are able to pass through, darkening and thickening the oil. This stops the oil from absorbing the heat required to lubricate the engine. Left unchecked, thick oil and a faulty oil filter can cause serious engine problems.
When should I replace the oil in my car?
Oil changes are a part of routine maintenance on your car, and are recommended to be completed every 5,000-7,000 miles, though it’s important to check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see how often you should be changing your oil.
Here are some common symptoms that occur when it’s time for an oil change:
Knocking/ticking sound: Oil helps your engine run effectively and when oil is old, the engine starts to make a knocking sound while engaged, or a ticking noise when starting. These sounds are alerting you of a potential oil change requirement.
Irregular oil textures: One sure way to determine if you need an oil change is to test it. If you remove the dipstick and the oil is dark and grimy or low, you need to complete an oil change.
Warning lights: Oftentimes, if you’re low on oil or are in need of a change, a warning light will appear on your dashboard to remind you. Also located on your dashboard is your engine code, which a mechanic will review to determine if you need an oil change.
Exhaust smoke: This is one of the more severe cases, but sometimes exhaust smoke can come from the exhaust pipe to signal poor oil conditions.
Vibrations in idle: Abnormal vibrations when in idle mode can also be attributed to low or old oil.
How often should oil be replaced?
Oil change intervals vary, depending on your vehicle and the oil you use. With newer models, the recommended time frame is every 5,000-7,000 miles. However, if your vehicle uses synthetic oil, it can typically last for a longer period of time, allowing you to travel up to 7,500-15,000 miles before needing an oil change.
Keep in mind: Most manufacturers also request that you change your oil filter every time you have your oil replaced to keep contaminants from entering your car’s engine.
Can I replace my oil myself?
Yes, you can complete an oil change yourself—in fact, it’s a fairly simple process and you will save yourself the labor fees at service centers. In addition to oil and a new oil filter, to complete an at-home oil change, you will need a wrench (to remove the drain plug), an oil filter wrench, oil drain pan, funnel, gloves, and a car jack.