Blog Car Care Advice 11 Glaring Signs You’re Overdue for an Oil Change (+FAQs)
Car Care Advice

11 Glaring Signs You’re Overdue for an Oil Change (+FAQs)

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If your beloved car isn’t performing as well as it used to, you may wonder if it’s a car battery, oil leak, or low transmission fluid issue. But, sometimes, the problem is simpler than you think.
You may be overdue for an oil change!

Your engine oil is vital in lubricating engine parts so your car can run smoothly. So, when you miss a regular oil change, you may experience poor engine performance.

How can you tell if your car is overdue for an oil change?

In this article, we’ll explore overdue oil change symptoms and discuss some burning questions about oil changes.

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Let’s begin.

11 Symptoms You’re Overdue for an Oil Change 

A car’s engine relies heavily on engine oil to perform at peak levels. Without a regular oil change, engine performance can deteriorate and shorten engine life. 

But sometimes, life happens, and you miss your scheduled oil change. We get it. 

Catching the issue of an overdue oil change early can save you the hassle and money of serious engine repair down the road. So, here are some overdue oil change symptoms to watch out for:

1. Your Oil Level Is Low

When the oil level in your engine is optimal, your vehicle operates in predictable ways. But a low oil level causes increased friction in your engine and can lead to permanent damage.

You can manually check your oil level by popping your car’s hood and pulling out the dipstick. Wipe the dipstick, put it in again, and pull it out to see where your oil level is. 

An oil change can replenish your reserves and safeguard the car engine if the oil level is low.

Note: A low oil level can also result from an oil leak. It’s best to contact an auto repair mechanic if you often face low fluid levels.

2. Your Oil Change Light Is On

The oil light is a warning light that lets you know something is wrong with your oil pressure or quality. You may also see an illuminated warning light or check engine light.

If you see an illuminated check engine or oil light, immediately shut off your engine and call a mechanic. Engine oil issues are dangerous to the moving parts of your engine, so a quick oil change can save you a lot of trouble.

3. You See Dirty Oil on the Dipstick 

Over time, motor oil collects particles and grime as it moves through your car engine. This collection of impurities turns motor oil into a dark, thick color.

If you notice dirty oil on the dipstick, you might be overdue for an oil change. A batch of clean oil can help your car engine return to its former glory.

4. You Notice a Burnt Oil Smell 

Sometimes, low oil levels, dirty oil, or an oil leak may cause issues that result in a burnt oil smell coming from your vehicle.

You may need to change your oil if you’re driving and notice a burning smell from your car. A new inventory of fresh oil will go a long way in combating the problem.

5. You Face Reduced Fuel Economy

There are several reasons for reduced fuel economy, such as an oil leak or old oil.

Regardless of which, you should get your car checked by a mechanic.

How does old oil reduce fuel economy?
Old oil affects the engine components, which means your vehicle utilizes more fuel to offset the drop in engine efficiency. 

6. You Hear Unusual Loud Noises

Nowadays, cars barely make any noise when in motion. So, you may be overdue for an oil change if you hear loud, unusual, or rattling noises.

How come?
The noises may be caused by increased friction in your engine due to low engine oil levels or decreased oil pressure. A simple oil change may remedy the problem.

7. Your Engine Stalls

Your car should take you from point A to B without hassle. If your car’s engine stalls or seizes up when driving, you may need to schedule an oil change.

The stalling may be caused by old oil or low oil levels, which a simple oil change may fix.

8. Your Engine Overheats

Engine overheating is a significant issue for any car owner looking to avoid severe engine repair. Overheating can occur when engine parts are not properly lubricated, and experience increased friction. 

There’s an increased chance of additional friction and overheating when you’ve skipped regular oil changes.

9. Your Car Produces Dark Exhaust Fumes

Clean exhaust fumes from your vehicle indicate that your car’s engine is in tip-top condition. However, dark exhaust fumes can indicate an issue with your oil that requires attention. 

10. You Have Trouble Shifting Gears

Shifting your gears should be easy. But if you have trouble performing this action, you might have low engine oil and transmission fluid levels or a clogged oil filter.

A mechanical tune-up can ensure that you get an oil change, transmission fluid replacement, and a clean oil filter.

11. You Don’t Recall Your Last Oil Change

If you can’t pinpoint the last time you had an oil change, you’re probably in need of an oil change appointment.

If you don’t drive often, the essential elements in engine oil will disintegrate due to its short oil life. In other words, the oil will go bad and lose its effectiveness. As a car owner, always keep up with your regular oil change schedule.

Now that we have a clear idea about overdue oil change symptoms, let’s explore some common queries about oil changes.

4 FAQS about Oil Changes

Here are answers to common questions you may have about oil changes:

1. Why Do I Need an Oil Change?

When you don’t frequently change a car’s oil, it becomes dirty and thick. The reduced quality of the oil’s essential elements leads to several issues, including:

Following your oil change schedule can help eliminate these problems. The motor oil will lubricate engine components, reducing friction and preventing poor engine performance.

2. How Long Can I Drive Before Needing an Oil Change?

Cars can usually go a 5,000 – 7,000 mile interval before they require an oil change. In addition, vehicles that use synthetic oil can go a 10,000 – 15,000 mile interval before they need an oil change.

But, your car’s oil change interval depends on several factors, such as driving habits, oil type (conventional oil, synthetic oil, or synthetic blend oil), and vehicle age.

To be safe, check your owner’s manual or contact a mechanic for guidance on when you need an oil change.

3. Does an Overdue Oil Change Affect Acceleration?

Yes, an overdue oil change can negatively affect acceleration.

Here’s the thing:
If the engine oil becomes dirty or hits low levels, the engine doesn’t get sufficient lubrication. This leads to decreased engine performance, impacting acceleration as your car becomes more sluggish.

4. What Causes Oil Pressure to Decrease?

Common causes of low oil pressure include:

Remember, if your car has low oil pressure, the engine will suffer through increased friction and damage. That’s why it’s essential to have a mechanic assess the situation immediately if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. 

Final Thoughts

A vehicle that is overdue for an oil change manifests its need for fresh oil in several ways. You may notice dirty oil, engine overheating and stalling, and even a burning smell.

Neglecting your oil change schedule can have disastrous effects on your engine and lead to permanent damage. That’s why sticking to the correct oil change interval helps avoid future mishaps.

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