If you are someone who owns a car or is planning to have one, knowing how to check engine oil life is a lifesaver. Car engines have lots of moving parts; as these parts move at high speeds, the force of friction creates heat. This is where the motor oil comes in to lubricate and reduce friction, absorb heat, and keep the engine clean. This is crucial to keep the parts working effectively together without causing overheating and, in turn, protect the engine. But over time, motor oil breaks down, making it less effective in lubricating the engine and absorbing heat. That’s why checking your car’s oil and quality is essential.
Checking the quality and level of oil in your car is one of the simplest things a car owner can do to maintain and extend the life span of the engine parts. These days, engine oil comes in various forms, from conventional to fully synthetic oil. Most modern cars use fully synthetic oil that the manufacturer recommends; please check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to know the exact type of oil to be used. (This can sometimes be written under or on the oil cap).
1. How To Check Engine Oil Life By Yourself:
1.1. Getting Started
Make sure to turn off your car’s engine and wait a few minutes for it to cool down; do not burn yourself on any hot engine parts. Make sure to be parked on level ground.
1.2. Locating Dipstick Under The Hood
Open your front hood and locate the dipstick. This will typically be colored in yellow or orange and found on the left side. (Something to note is that automatic cars have another dipstick under the hood for the transmission fluid but typically at a different location in the hood.)
1.3. Remove The Dipstick And Clean It
Pull the oil dipstick out and wipe off the oil with a paper towel or wipe with a piece of rag. Now reinsert the clean oil dipstick into what is generally referred to as the oil tube. Make sure to push to the end to ensure you reach the oil pan.
1.4. Checking Oil Level And Making Sure There Is Enough Oil
Pull the dipstick out again and check your oil level; dipsticks have indicators at the tip showing the maximum and minimum levels. Check your oil levels by seeing where the oil is between the maximum and minimum level indicators; if it is somewhere in the middle, then your oil levels are good. If the oil is below the minimum level, then you need to either fill and top up your engine oil or have it changed altogether.
2. What If Your Car Does Not Have A Dipstick?
Then you might be driving a newer model with indicators on your dashboard that tell you how much life is left for your oil, the oil level, or when it’s time to get an oil change. These oil life monitoring systems track your mileage and use various data points from your car to estimate when you require to change your car’s oil.
3. When To Change The Engine Oil?
Once you have checked how much oil you have in your vehicle, you need to check how long before you need to replace your motor oil. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your engine oil every 5000 kilometers to 10,000 kilometers or every six months.
This interval has become significantly greater over the past decade, with more vehicles using fully synthetic oils than conventional oils that break down much faster than their fully synthetic or semi-synthetic counterparts.
4. Types Of Oils:
Conventional Oils: These are made from natural resources and are generally inexpensive.
Semi-Synthetic Oils: These are a hybrid of conventional and synthetic oils to create a blend that tries to provide customers with the best.
Fully Synthetic Oils: These are made entirely in labs and factories and are highly refined, providing the most consistency. These are overall considered much better for vehicles and recommended by manufacturers.
5. Things To Also Consider As Drivers:
You must also take into consideration your driving styles and driver habits; for people who do not make long trips where you hold high speeds for prolonged durations, you might be better off getting your motor oil changed every 3 months rather than the recommended 6 months since the engine doesn’t get a chance to get hot enough to boil off any condensation that might have accumulated causing the oil to break down faster. Also, maximum wear and tear occur when starting your car and if you are driving in stop-start traffic.
Older vehicles with a higher mileage must change their oils even sooner to prevent oil leaks. Do keep in mind always to consult your owner’s manual to know the exact interval of oil changes and services and what is best recommended for your vehicle, as all vehicles vary from one another.
6. Tips To Determine Your Next Oil Change:
- If you drive in stop-start traffic for short commutes around the city, the recommended oil change interval is 5000kms or 3 months, whichever comes first.
- If you drive on highways and for long trips and generally have a high mileage car, the recommended oil change interval is 10,000kms or 6 months, whichever comes first.
- In general, no matter your vehicle’s driving style and use case, you must change your oil every 6 months.
7. Quick Tip On How To Determine Oil Life:
Suppose you don’t know how many kilometers you have driven and when you got your last oil change, then there are some common indicators that you can check that’ll tell you the life of your oil, such as the oil color, the viscosity, and the feel of the oil.
Good oil is typically a clear golden, amber, or brown color with a good flow, although follow caution as color is not an accurate indicator of oil life. You can also feel the oil once you have pulled it through the dipstick; if the oil feels gritty, murky, and rough, it might be time to change it; your oil must feel smooth and velvety regardless of its color. If your oil is dirty and milky, you might have a possible coolant leak in your vehicle. If you find particles floating in your oil or metal shavings, this can be an early indicator of internal damage to your engine.
Follow these simple steps to ensure that your vehicle’s engine has enough lubrication and is running at its optimal performance. It’s a good idea to check your oil once a month before any long journey you plan to embark on. If you found this article helpful, kindly subscribe to Icy Tales for more daily life posts. Also check out Revving Up Your Mental Engine: 6 Hobby Ideas for the Car Enthusiast on Icy Tales.