For vehicle owners, regular oil changes are an essential auto maintenance task that helps ensure a car’s engine will run smoothly for years to come. Changing your motor oil regularly helps remove dirt and particles from the engine and lubricate it, resulting in improved performance, lower emissions, and better fuel economy.
Oil plays an integral role in keeping your engine running both efficiently and safely, but as important as it is to get regular oil changes, it’s just as crucial to check on the condition of your oil before each change. Doing so allows you to identify any auto problems that may be present beneath the hood while they’re still minimal.
Reasons to Inspect Your Oil Before an Oil Change
Inspecting your oil before an oil change is a wise preventive measure that can help you to avoid potential issues with your vehicle’s engine. Properly monitoring the condition of oil in your car, truck, or SUV can alert you to any existing problems while they are still small and easily remedied. This helps keep your automobile running smoothly, safely, and efficiently.
Oil Filter Issues
Oil that is too dark or has a burnt odor can indicate an oil leak or a clogged oil filter. If this problem is not identified and addressed in time, it can lead to more serious issues, such as oil sludge build-up in the engine. Oil sludge will cause your car’s oil to become less effective at lubricating the engine’s various components; this could eventually cause them to wear out prematurely.
Fuel Injector Issues
Inspecting oil before an oil change helps identify any unusual odors like gasoline being present in your oil. This could be caused by a leaking fuel injector or fuel injector seal, which requires prompt attention from a qualified auto service professional. Otherwise, the problem could lead to an oil-fuel mixture that is less effective at lubricating your engine and can create a dangerous build-up of pressure in the oil system.
Oil that contains metal shavings or other debris is indicative of an underlying issue with parts such as the oil pump, oil pan gasket, or valve cover seal. All these problems need to be addressed before they get worse and possibly cause even more damage to your engine.
How to Inspect Your Car’s Oil
Inspecting oil is a relatively easy process, and there are a few practical steps you can take to check the oil in your car.
- First, pop the hood of your vehicle and locate the oil dipstick. Wipe it off with a clean rag or cloth, then re-insert it into its tube. Pull it out again and check the oil level on the dipstick; it should be between two marks on the dipstick showing “safe” levels of oil.
- Next, check for oil leaks around any hoses or gaskets that connect to the engine block, as well as any loose connections that could result in oil seeping out. Pay special attention to areas around the oil filter and oil pan gasket, which are often sources of oil leaks.
- Finally, look at the oil itself. Your oil’s color should be amber or yellow; if it’s black, that means the oil is burning off and needs to be changed. Check for any debris as well as the oil’s smell – if it has a gas-like odor, that could mean there’s a fuel injector leak.
If you notice any of these oil issues, it’s important to take your car to an auto service professional right away for further inspection and potential repairs.