Although some car owners consider changing the oil to be the single most important thing they can do to take care of their vehicle, many people delay this task. Failure to change the oil regularly can cause serious engine damage.
Oil is designed to reduce friction between moving parts within an engine. When you have quality oil that is doing its job properly, it means the components of your engine are working well without rubbing together and causing corrosion.
Over time, though, oil becomes contaminated and loses its viscosity. In a word, it gets dirty. And when that happens, it loses its ability to prevent friction—which means the components of your engine will literally be wearing each other down, causing erosion and potentially significant mechanical failings.
What are common signs of oil leaks?
One indication that you have gone too long without an oil change is the presence of an oily puddle under your car. If the fluid is brown and greasy-looking, it’s engine oil; if it’s pink or green or orange, it’s transmission fluid; and if it’s clear, it’s coolant. Many vehicles today have shielding underneath, which will most likely catch the leak before it hits the ground. That can hide a potentially major oil leak.
If your engine is covered in oil, it’s a good indication that there may be leakage issues. Check the fluids in your vehicle and look for signs of leakage. If oil appears to be leaking from several areas, you should have the vehicle inspected by a professional as soon as possible. Finally, if oil is leaking onto hot surfaces, it could burn and produce an odor.
What are the causes of oil leakage from the car?
An engine oil leak is usually caused by worn or defective engine gaskets or oil seals. If the oil seals and gaskets are old and dirty, they may erode and allow oil to leak out. A leak could also be due to neglecting to change your oil for a long time, leading to internal engine damage.
Damaged Oil Gaskets or Pans
Due to their placement at the bottom of the engine, oil pans and gaskets can be easily damaged by road debris. Holes that result from rough roads can lead to an oil pan leak. The pan’s gasket usually suffers a lot of wear and tear or can also get damaged, leading to an oil gasket leak.
Oil leaks may occur if one of the gaskets that keep oil inside is improperly installed. This can happen when the oil pan gasket or valve cover gasket is over-tightened, or when tightness is not evenly distributed. Another cause of a leak could be the improper attachment of the oil filter; this is because oil flows continuously through it, so if it’s loose, you will experience a leak there.
Bad Rings or Valve Seals
Leaking gaskets or rings can also be contributing to your car losing oil. However, if there are no holes in your gaskets, the oil will not make it outside the engine, so you won’t notice it, as it will get burned up in the combustion process.
Regardless of the specific cause for your car losing oil, it is urgent to stop an oil leak immediately so take your vehicle to the Meineke shop. Following an oil leak, you may encounter a burnt oil smell followed by blue smoke and ultimately some major damage to your engine. Do not delay in addressing this issue.
How Often Should Oil Be Changed?
The question of when to change the oil in your car is an important one that can only be answered with a fair amount of uncertainty. The color of the oil will change almost immediately after it has been put into your vehicle, so there is no way to tell through visual inspection alone if it needs changing.
To avoid a major oil leak, it is best to change your oil as frequently as the manufacturer recommends. The manufacturer’s recommendation is made to keep your car running for a long time; you can find out what this recommendation is by looking in your owner’s manual, visiting the manufacturer’s website, or calling the service desk at your local dealership.
If you have no reason to doubt any of these sources, then there is no harm in getting your oil changed too frequently—though this can take a toll on your wallet. There is no need to have the oil changed more regularly than what the manufacturer recommends.
Do not wait until you see signs of oil leak, or the “low oil” light comes on–if this happens, it is time for an oil change. The light almost certainly means that whatever oil is left in your engine has lost its ability to function properly, which means your engine is undergoing a great deal of wear and tear.
How Many Miles Between Oil Changes?
It’s best to follow your manufacturer’s recommendation for oil changes. Some auto owners just take their cars in for oil changes every five to six months, but this does not take into account the seasons in which the vehicles are driven more or less than usual. The standard for older vehicles was often no more than 3,500 miles, but newer cars can often get 7,000 to 10,000 out of a single oil change.
Again, the critical thing is to look at your manufacturer’s recommendation, and not to delay getting the oil changed as needed, hopefully before your light comes on or you see oil leaks staining your driveway.