An oil change and tune up is a critical part of your car maintenance plan. Yet, opinions can sometimes vary regarding how often these need to be done. While older cars often required frequent oil changes, newer models can sometimes go quite a few miles between tune ups. You can use this guide to help you determine the appropriate oil change schedule for your vehicle.
Watch the Mileage
For years, mechanics recommended oil changes for cars to occur about every 3,000 miles. Now, modern engines and lubricants allow you to drive for longer between oil changes. Since the recommendations for scheduling oil changes can vary significantly from one type of car to another, it is best to check your owner’s manual to find out when you need to schedule a visit to the auto service center.
Consider Your Driving Habits
As a general rule, your car may need more frequent tune ups if you drive in extreme conditions. For instance, towing large boats or trailers behind your vehicle generates higher levels of heat in the engine that cause the oil to get old faster. Off-road vehicles, those that operate in extremely cold or hot climates, and commercial trucks are all vehicles that may need to be tuned up on a more regular basis. Always let your mechanic know about your driving habits so that they can adjust your vehicle maintenance schedule accordingly.
Check the Fluid Level
For the most part, the oil should remain at about the same level between changes. However, you may find that it begins to go down if other parts of your engine begin to wear out. Periodically check the oil level to make sure that there is not a leak in the system that requires repair. You can also assess the color of the oil during this check. If it is dark or looks like sludge, then your car is due for an oil change right away.
Pay Attention to the Dash
Modern cars have computerized systems that include dashboard warning lights that let you know when something is wrong. Today, most cars have two lights that pertain to the oil. The first one simply lets you know when our car has hit the right amount of miles for an oil change. The other signifies a drop in oil pressure, which could be a sign of a serious problem. Since driving your car with little to no oil has serious consequences for the engine, you should avoid driving the vehicle until it is repaired if the low pressure warning light comes on.
Note How Your Vehicle Drives
A car that has bad oil may begin to sputter or make noises as you drive. You may also notice a need for a tune up if the car misfires or the engine fails to turnover during the initial start up. Since a tune up can include services such as changing the spark plugs and sensors, your car may give off warning signs as the time gets close to schedule these repairs.
Keeping up with your car’s maintenance needs prevents more serious issues from developing, and your car relies on oil to keep the engine cool and all of the metal parts moving smoothly. Work with your mechanic to create the ideal schedule for maintenance for your vehicle, and set up a system such as an alarm on your calendar so that you know when to schedule the next tune up.