It’s Time for a Change: 5 Top Signs You Need an Oil Change

speedometer with check engine light

Trying to figure out if you need an oil change or not? 

Having enough oil—and oil that’s still clean enough to keep your engine healthy—is an essential part of good car maintenance.

Whether your goal is to keep your car problem-free before you return it from the lease, or you want to get 250,000 miles out of your vehicle, oil changes should be a priority.

In this article, we’ll review the 5 top signs you need an oil change.

1. The Check Engine Light Came On

If there’s a light on your dashboard that you haven’t seen before, it could mean it’s time for an oil change. Your vehicle may detect that the oil in your car is no longer keeping the engine clean or cool enough, and the light will illuminate.

If this happens, you can pull the dipstick out of your car to see if you have enough oil (and change it yourself if not) or change the oil at a local auto body shop, like Provo Car Doctors, to have them look at it.

2. The Oil Looks Dirty

Clean oil is important for keeping your car’s engine at a suitable temperature. When grime and sludge build up in your car’s oil, it has a harder time cooling down while it’s driving. Chronic overheating can lead to much more expensive damages to your vehicle over time.

When you pull your dipstick out and see brown, or overly thick oil, it’s time for a change.

3. It’s Been 3,000-5,000 Miles

Most cars need an oil change every 3 to 5 thousand miles—more (closer to 8 or 10 thousand miles) if you’ve got synthetic oil in your car.

If a business is changing your oil for you, take a look in the top left-hand corner of your windshield. There should be a sticker there that tells you when the next time you need to get an oil change is, and that number is usually 3,000 miles from your last change.

4. You Smell Oil

If you smell oil, there may be a leak somewhere in your car. This likely means oil is burning off your engine as it heats up, which is something that you should get fixed ASAP.

When you take the car in, let the service person know that you’re smelling oil. They may be able to tell you where the leak is and fix it right there if it’s small enough.

5. Your Car Isn’t Starting

Believe it or not, newer cars tend to have more of a problem than older cars with starting if the oil is old.

Besides your oil getting old, smelling, or turning a dark color, you may also be running out of oil. Your car not starting is a sign that your car is, indeed, low on oil. 

Signs You Need An Oil Change: Wrap Up

There are several other overdue oil change symptoms, but the 5 tips on this list are signs you need an oil change.

Getting it taken care of sooner rather than later will save you money now and in the future, as it keeps your car healthy and running smooth.