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How To Know When It's Time To Change The Oil In Your Car

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Modern car engines have become so complicated that it's not always easy to do maintenance chores like changing the oil yourself. If you don't work on your car frequently, you may feel at a loss as to what's going on inside the engine, but fortunately, modern cars have computer systems that alert you when it's time for maintenance and when something is wrong.

While you may remember your father's or grandfather's old car having the oil changed on a strict schedule, times have changed. Cars can often go longer between oil changes, and they might even be on a variable schedule. Here are some tips for knowing when it's time to take your car in for an oil change.

Read The Instruction Manual

There is no set number of miles for an oil change that applies to every make of car. Read your car's manual to find out the frequency recommended by the car manufacturer. You'll probably see two recommendations. One is for normal driving, and the other is for driving under severe conditions. Severe driving conditions involve things such as driving on steep mountain roads, doing mostly congested city driving, and pulling a boat or camper. If you drive under severe conditions, the car manufacturer will probably recommend more frequent oil changes.

Rely On The Oil Life Monitor

If you have a newer car, it probably has some sort of system that monitors your oil. It may trigger an alert once you reach the number of miles recommended by the car manufacturer for an oil change. The alert light reminds you when the change is due, so you don't forget. More sophisticated systems don't rely on actual mileage. Instead, they factor in the condition of the oil as well as your recent driving habits to alert you when you need to change the oil.

These are variable systems that may recommend oil changes more frequently than other times independent of the number of miles you put on your car. Mileage isn't always the most important factor to consider for an oil change. For instance, if your car sits in the garage all the time, it still needs regular oil changes even if it has very low mileage. That's because the oil may degrade over time just from age.

Check The Condition Of The Oil

You can always check the condition of the oil with the dipstick to see if it is low or if the oil is in bad shape. The oil should always be fairly clear and thin. When the oil is dark, thick, or has a burnt odor, it's time to take it to the shop for a check. Also, if you seem to be using a lot of oil, it could be a sign of a leak that needs to be found and repaired.

Several things affect how often you need to change your oil, such as the age of your car, the model car you drive, your usual driving conditions, and even the type of oil you use. If it seems confusing, then talk to your mechanic for a recommendation. It's important to keep your oil clean, so your car's engine is protected.

While you don't have to change the oil as often as your grandfather did in his car, you don't want to put it off too long. Your mechanic can give you a reliable schedule to follow and even affix a sticker on your car to remind you when the change is due.

Contact a company like M & R Automotive Service Center Inc for more information and assistance.