17 Jan Engine Oil: How to Check it, When to Replace it…
Your vehicle’s engine is a complex system of components. These components are all moving parts, working together, and all require a generous amount of lubrication from oil to function. Engine oil helps to lubricate, but it also helps to keep the engine cool and to clean the moving parts of any errant debris in the system—debris and particulate cause friction, and friction causes wear to the engine components. When the engine oil is dirty or when there isn’t enough oil present in the system, the engine will begin to break down and wear prematurely. Dirty engine oil will not immediately cause the engine to seize and quit working, but the damage will be progressive and difficult to determine before it’s too late. So, that makes a quick check of the engine oil an absolute necessary responsibility, and it also makes it imperative to change the oil at regular intervals.
To be vigilant, it’s best to check the engine oil with every other fill up. If you’re someone who fills your gas tank whenever it’s half empty—a good practice, but more on that another time—then check the engine oil every three or four times to the pump. To check the oil, pop the hood and locate the oil dipstick (There’s usually a graphic in the plastic cap of the dipstick, but if you’re uncertain then check the manual for the location). Remove the dip stick and wipe it free of oil with a towel—those paper towels outside gas pumps are perfect for the job. Put it back in and then remove it. the oil level should show on the dipstick and indicate the amount of oil left in the engine. Also, check the color of the oil. Brown and black indicate various levels of clean to dirty oil—the darker the dirtier. But if the oil is milky white, or if you notice metal fragments within it, it needs to go to your mechanic immediately.
You should change the oil in your vehicle at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer. Don’t let changes lapse by more than a few hundred miles. Dirty oil in the tank will only continue to degrade the engine and its components.
Engine oil is important, and knowing when to change it is a practical skill that every vehicle owner should know and understand.