Delaying routine vehicle maintenance can lead to expensive repairs. A discerning eye should enable you to notice signs that will tell you when it's time for an oil change.
Brand new oil has a caramel color when you first pour it into the reservoir. The color will change gradually over the miles and weeks that elapse. When the lubricant begins to look black in color and you see small particles mixed into it, it's time for an oil change.
Oil is crucial for engine lubrication. Without this lubricant present and doing its job, engine parts will begin to grind on each other. This friction will produce noises that you will be able to hear when the engine is running. You might hear a knocking sound. Some people also hear a growling or rumbling sound that continues to build as time goes on.
When the dashboard begins to illuminate with warning lights, it's time to take steps to resolve these issues. Depending on the age of the vehicle, you might see the check engine light or another gauge that illuminates to tell you that something is amiss with the lubricant.
A car consumes lubricant as is runs. Gradually, the oil level will fall. This occurs because the lubricant is not working effectively, so the car uses more of it to ensure smooth operation. Low levels of lubricant indicate that's it's time to change it. Do not just pour more lubricant to restore the engine to the recommended level.
Cold temperatures cause vapors to exit the system through the tailpipe. However, anytime you see actual smoke exiting the tailpipe, this indicates a problem. An oil change would be an easy fix. More difficult solutions could require work to the head gasket or a cylinder.
Most manufacturers recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles. Although controversy abounds regarding this mileage recommendation, it's important to set a regular schedule for this maintenance. Even if the lubricant still looks clean at 3,000 miles, it's beneficial to change it on a regular schedule.
Skipping oil changes can result in serious issues. Without this lubrication, parts will rub on other parts. This friction can cause the vehicle to overheat. Left unresolved, overheating can even lead to the melding of parts to each other. A clean filter also provides the important service of filtering dirt away from the engine where it could cause damage. Without this regular maintenance, car parts will wear prematurely. The worst case scenario would be total engine failure.
This type of maintenance is probably one of the easiest things for owners to perform themselves. If you don't want to do the work yourself, a mechanic can take care of it for you in just a few minutes.
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