Keeping your vehicle in prime condition and ultimately roadworthy isn’t just up to your mechanic, every motorist must do their bit to ensure essential car care is completed. Routine maintenance can save you lots of time and money, reducing the risk of breakdown and subsequent expensive repair work and recovery, and changing your engine oil is a vital part of this process.
Engine oil is integral to the operation of any vehicle, and within the modern combustion system it has many roles. In addition to keeping engine components well lubricated, oil draws heat away from the combustion chamber and prevents carbon and other substances from amassing within the engine itself. Unbeknown to many changing your engine oil is simple, but for those unsure about the basics our servicing experts have compiled an essential guide…
How often should you top up engine oil?
An engine oil check should be part of your regular weekly checks for your vehicle. Your car’s manual will give guidance, but typically you will have a dipstick showing the optimal level of your engine oil. If it is below the dipstick’s minimum level, this is the time to top up. You can also check for any warning signs that the oil may need changing (more on this below).
How often should I change my engine oil?
Whilst it’s common knowledge that a vehicle service is required at least once a year or every 12,000 miles, many motorists just wait until the oil warning light appears on their dashboard before taking steps to change or top up their oil, but you don’t have to wait until this point to change your oil.
Generally, vehicles which use conventional motor oil require a change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, whilst those using synthetic oil need changing up to every 7,000 miles. Extended range oils can go even longer without a change and last up to 10,000 miles before replacement is needed. How often an oil change is required however depends on how and where you drive as those in warmer climates or motorists who regularly encounter high volumes of traffic may need more frequent changes.
Are there any tell-tale signs that a change is needed?
There are tell-tale signs that indicate that it’s time for an oil change, and watching out for these will ensure that you don’t push the limits of your particular vehicle.
You may require an engine oil change if:
- The appearance of your oil is black and gritty
- Your engine sounds louder than usual
- Your check engine light just won’t go away
- Your oil levels drop.
Which engine oil is right for my vehicle?
There are so many types of engine oil out there that buying the right one for your vehicle can be difficult. Your vehicle handbook will provide all the information you need regarding the specification of engine oil that is suitable for your car. Labelled as ACEA or API specifications, the details provided will correspond with the label on the oil container, however if you are still unsure you may want to contact the parts department of your vehicle’s manufacturer for assistance.
Getting started with an oil change
While many choose to enlist the help of a qualified mechanic to complete essential maintenance like engine oil changes, with the right equipment you can do this yourself. Once your vehicle is safely and sufficiently jacked using a jack stand and your cold engine has been warmed by letting your vehicle run for five minutes, find the plug underneath your vehicle and pull out to drain the old oil. Your old oil filter will then need to be removed and replaced, ensuring that the rubber gasket is removed with it, this may need to be peeled away from the engine. Once the new filter has been hand tightened and the plug added, you can then go under the bonnet to add fresh oil.
Refill the engine with oil using a funnel to prevent spillages and simply pour the new oil in. The old oil can then be recycled. Finish by running your vehicle, waiting a few minutes until the oil light goes off, and use the dipstick to check the oil levels. More oil may need to be added if necessary.