How often should you change the oil in your car? It used to be that mechanics and car experts recommended you change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever came first. While that was necessary with the vehicles of the past, modern cars are engineered to be more efficient and durable.
How Often Should You Change the Oil in Your Car?
Not changing the oil in your car can cause the parts in the engine to wear down over time. It can also cause blockages in the passageways for the oil, which can lead to oil starvation and the engine components fusing together.
What it comes down to is the automaker’s recommendation. Each car company has a group of talented engineers who designed your car from the ground up, including the engine. They know better than anyone how often the oil should be changed. The owner’s manual will include your vehicle’s recommended oil change intervals. If you don’t have the manual, the automaker’s website will have the exact specifications.
How to Change Oil in a Car
Changing your own oil is a simple process. Before you start, gather the necessary supplies and tools:
- Motor Oil – be sure to get the proper grade for your car
- Oil Filter
- Socket Wrench
- Oil Filter Wrench
- Container to Catch the Oil
- Jack Stands
First, if the engine is cold, start it up and let it run for a few minutes to heat up the oil; otherwise some will stay trapped in the different nooks and crannies. Then, follow these instructions:
- Turn off the car and jack up the front end, supporting each side with jack stands.
- Remove the drain plug using the socket wrench. Be careful, because hot motor oil will come flowing out.
- Once the flow of oil slows to a drip, loosen the oil filter using the oil filter wrench. Before screwing on the new filter, rub some of the new oil on the rubber gasket, otherwise it could fuse to the engine and be almost impossible to remove.
- Replace and tighten the drain plug.
- From there, you need to remove the oil-filler cap on the top of the engine, place the funnel in the opening, and pour the oil inside. Clean up any spilled oil.
- Then, start the engine and let it run for a couple of minutes. Turn it off and check the oil level. If it’s low at all, add some more oil and repeat the process until the level is good.
You need to take the container of used motor oil to a recycling location, where it will be disposed of properly.
Can You Put Too Much Oil in a Car?
Yes, but not if it’s only a little too much. Filling the engine with an excessive amount of oil can cause serious damage to the engine due to foaming oil that doesn’t pump well. If the oil level on the dipstick is slightly above the maximum line, you should be okay.
This is why it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for how much oil to use. If you have any question about the actual level in your car, start with less than you think you need, and add more. Adding more is far easier than having to drain excess oil from your car.
Signs of Low Oil in a Car
The main sign that your car is low on oil is when the oil pressure light comes on. It’s usually red and is in the gauge cluster, where you can’t miss it. If that happens, you need to pull over and add oil to the engine before continuing to run the car. When the light flickers, that means you need to add oil immediately, because it’s dangerously low.
Another sign of low oil is if you check the dipstick and the level is low. You should be checking this periodically, ideally about once a month or more often if you have a higher-mileage car.
A noisy engine can indicate the oil level is low, as you hear the valves or bearings in a more pronounced manner. One of the worst signs is knocking. This can indicate you have only a few hundred feet before the engine seizes, so don’t ignore this one.