You probably already know that when the "check oil" signal lights up on your dashboard that you're either low on oil or in need of a complete oil change. Maintaining engine oil is an excellent way to ensure the overall health of your vehicle -- after all, the oil is what keeps the engine lubricated so it can run smoothly. Engine oil works hard, though, and can pick up significant amounts of debris in the process, which can have a substantial negative impact on how the vehicle functions. Parts of the engine rub together when the vehicle is in operation, and if the lubricant isn't doing an effective job, the parts in question can erode one another.
Following are five signs that it's time to change your oil.
Your Oil Levels Are Decreasing Faster Than Usual
If your engine is burning more oil than usual, that's a sign that the existing oil isn't working as efficiently as before, causing the engine to use more. This may be a common problem for you if you frequently drive on dirt or gravel roads, if you often haul heavy loads in your vehicle, or if you practice driving habits such as rapid acceleration, jackrabbit starts, and driving fast in general. Vehicles located in areas where climate conditions are extremely hot or cold may also burn oil more quickly than their counterparts in more moderate climates. Because many parts of Canada experience significant winter cold, your oil may need to be changed more than usual if you live in one of these areas.
Strange Noises Are Coming From Under Your Hood
Be particularly aware of grinding noises -- this indicates that engine parts may not be properly lubricated. This situation should never be ignored, so take the vehicle for an oil change as soon as possible. Engine oil that contains high amounts of debris doesn't lubricate well at all, and your vehicle runs the risk of incurring expensive damages if you keep driving with dirty oil after hearing telltale noises that indicate that pistons and other engine parts are rubbing together.
The Oil Appears Dirty and Gritty
Motor oil should be transparent and honey-colored. If the oil in your vehicle appears dark and gritty with visible sentiment, it's definitely time for a change. You can probably safely wait a week or two to get the oil changed if sediment amounts are small, but if the oil is extremely murky with large bits of floating sentiment, have it changed as soon as possible. High sediment amounts can overload the oil filter to the extent that it's essentially clogged up, which can prevent the oil from accessing the vehicle's engine to provide lubrication.
The Oil Has a Burnt Odor
While you're performing a visual inspection of your vehicle's motor oil, take a whiff and make certain that it doesn't have a burned smell -- this would indicate that the motor parts are becoming heated to abnormal levels. This could be because the oil itself isn't doing its job and needs to be replaced. The most common reason for this is too much sediment in the oil that is clogging the filters and allowing only a small amount of oil to access the moving parts of the engine.
You've Been Remiss About Regular Maintenance
Although you probably know that motor oil should be changed on a regular basis, many people find it easy to put off regular maintenance procedures. If you can't remember when the last time you had your oil changed, it's a good idea to err on the side of caution and make an appointment to have it done. Having regular oil changes is one of the most effective ways of helping ensure that your vehicle lasts for a long time and experiences a minimal amount of mechanical difficulties.
Take your vehicle to professionals like those at London Tire Sales if you don't know how to change the oil yourself.