How to tell if your car needs an oil change

Friday 16th April 2021

what oil do i need for my car

Regular oil change appointments can help to extend the longevity of your vehicle, improve the safety and enhance its overall performance. But, how can you tell if you need an oil change? Our guide highlights the most common signs to watch out for, and how to change car oil.

Signs you need an oil change

It can be difficult to determine when your car oil needs changing. That’s why it’s important to recognise the below signs you need an oil change, so you can act quickly.

Oil change light on dashboard

One of the first indicators that you might need your oil changed is from an illuminated oil change light on your dashboard – which is common in most modern vehicles. Once this has appeared, you will need to check your oil level by popping the bonnet, removing the dipstick, cleaning the dipstick and returning the dipstick to the oil cylinder to measure how much oil then appears on the clean dipstick.

Increased mileage

Your odometer often indicates when is best to get an oil change – with recommendations suggesting your car will need an oil change every 3 months, or every 3,000 miles. This is beneficial to know, as this means you’re likely to keep an eye on your odometer to ensure your vehicle is as safe as possible. Oil is also a component which is checked during your car service – so ensure to book in for interim and master car services when you can.

Loud noises from engine

When the fluid starts to break down in oil after natural wear, it then doesn’t lubricate parts as well – meaning you could be likely to hear a louder engine noise. Gradually, this would increase to become a knocking or rumbling noise if the oil level has not been resolved, which indicates your vehicle is in vital need of an oil change.

Smoke from your exhaust

Have you noticed any smoke being emitted from your exhaust pipe? This could suggest that there might be an oil leak in your engine. It’s normal for a translucent vapor to come out of your pipe, especially if the weather is colder than usual, but smoke can indicate problems with your engine. If you suspect this is happening, consult a professional for immediate repair.

Oil smells in your vehicle

If you ever get a whiff any oil smells while driving, this is a warning sign that there might be an oil leak in your engine – especially if the odour is strong. You may also smell oil smells mixed with the scent of exhaust fumes – but this would mean that your vehicle might be overheating, which can cause serious damage to your car. If you notice any oily smells, consult a professional immediately for an oil change.

Colour of the oil

If your oil is a dark and dirty colour, this could indicate it’s time to change your oil. Car oil is generally an amber colour – but after a while, this naturally darkens and becomes dirty from the particles that it collects from the engine. In order to know what colour your engine oil is, it’s recommended that you check the condition of your oil every month.

How to change car oil

If you’ve experienced any of the above signs and know it’s time to change your oil, the first thing you need to do is determine what engine oil you need for your vehicle. This is likely to be either mineral oil, semi-synthetic oil or synthetic oil – however, it’s important to familiarise yourself with what these oils actually mean, so read up on this in our detailed guide above.

Once you’ve determined which car engine oil you need, you can then begin the process of changing your oil. If your car’s oil filter is accessible, you can save money by doing this yourself at home – however, it is recommended to book in with a professional to change your oil. Our specialist oil supplement section has you covered – where you can book in for an oil service appointment at your local Formula One Autocentre.

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