Signs Your Car Needs Oil Change
Signs Your Car Needs Oil ChangeSigns Your Car Needs Oil Change

Changing your engine oil might not be the most exciting part of owning a car, but it's definitely necessary. Overused oil loses its cooling and lubricating properties, leading to increased engine wear and overheating. Lack of timely maintenance and neglecting the oil change interval are some of the most common reasons for engine failure.

Overdue Oil Change Symptoms

Here are the signs that let you know you're overdue for an oil change: 

  • The oil change light is on
  • The consistency and color of the oil has changed
  • You have exceeded the oil change interval
  • The engine is knocking, overheating, or you smell burnt oil

The Oil Change Light is On 

The most evident sign that you're overdue for an oil change is your car's built-in monitoring system. An illuminated oil change or check engine light shouldn't be ignored. It's often an indication that there is not enough oil in the system or that the oil has degraded beyond its service life and needs to be changed.

The Consistency and Color of the Oil Has Changed

You can get a good sense of the oil's condition by checking its consistency and color. New engine oil has a clear, amber color and should be somewhat see-through and smooth. As it ages, it becomes darker due to the by-products of combustion and the contaminants it absorbs. Eventually, it turns a dark brown or black color with a gritty or thick texture. These changes are an indication that the oil is saturated with contaminants and can no longer protect your engine.

Although the oil's consistency and color can give you a clue, you can't accurately assess the condition of the oil by sight, so follow the manufacturer's recommendations for oil change intervals even if the appearance of the oil doesn't look deteriorated.

You Have Exceeded the Oil Change Interval

Most car manufacturers specify a recommended interval for changing the oil. This interval is based on the standard lifespan of engine oil under normal driving conditions, taking into account factors like the type of oil (synthetic, semi-synthetic, conventional), driving habits, and environmental conditions. When you reach this recommended interval, you're using the engine oil beyond its intended lifetime. Continuing to use old oil can lead to increased engine wear, reduced efficiency, and more serious mechanical issues. Adhering to the recommended oil change intervals is a fundamental aspect of vehicle maintenance.

Engine is Knocking, Overheating, or You Smell Burnt Oil

The engine oil has a dual role: to cool and lubricate the moving parts of the engine. When the oil is contaminated and overdue for a change, it has most likely lost its lubricating and cooling properties. When the oil fails to lubricate the engine, the moving parts do not slide past each other as easily as they should. This increased friction can manifest as a knocking sound and could overheat the engine. By this stage, the engine's control unit should have already turned on the oil light, signaling that an immediate oil change is necessary to reduce engine damage.

How Often Should You Change the Engine Oil

It's best to follow the recommendations in your vehicle owner's manual regarding oil change intervals, as these vary depending on your vehicle's year, engine, and the motor oil your car uses. For instance, conventional and synthetic oils require different change intervals. Synthetic oil is more resistant to breakdown and usually lasts longer than conventional oil. Also, if you drive in dusty or sandy conditions, or if you often tow a trailer, you should change your oil more often.

In case your car uses synthetic oil, be sure to have an oil filter engineered for use with synthetic oil. Ideally, your oil filters should have an extended life to match that of the synthetic oil. Otherwise, the filter might fail before reaching the oil change interval.

With FRAM Ultra Synthetic® and FRAM Synthetic Endurance™, the quality of your engine oil will be maintained for longer. These filters are designed for extended life and high filtration capacity, ensuring peak performance throughout the life of the engine oil. However, even with these advanced filters, regular oil changes are necessary. The chemical composition of the oil degrades over time, requiring periodic maintenance to ensure the engine is lubricated.

By recognizing these overdue oil change symptoms, you can proactively change the oil before it leads to reduced engine performance or damage. 

Questions? We're here to help. Reach out the FRAM specialists for product and maintenance support.


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