Regular oil changes are essential for keeping your car on the road and running at its best. In this guide to getting an oil change in Austin, we’ll cover the consequences of neglecting oil changes, discuss how frequently you should change your oil, highlight signs indicating the need for an oil change, examine different types of oil changes and oils available, and shed light on what can happen if you use the wrong oil.
1. How Long Can You Go Without an Oil Change in Austin?
Admit it; you have definitely wondered this! The very unsatisfying answer is that your car’s manufacturer is the best judge of how often the oil needs to be changed. We always encourage checking the owner’s manual for the recommended oil change interval. Of course, some circumstances (such as the Austin heat) make changing the oil more frequently necessary.
Once the oil is worn out or too old, it no longer works. This happens over time, regardless of the car’s mileage. Some newer cars have electronic oil monitors, while others require manual checks using the dipstick. Monthly inspections (which you can do yourself) are recommended even if the vehicle is not driven regularly.
Hybrids may have different oil change requirements, so following the manufacturer’s guidelines is the way to go. You can’t judge based on mileage since just because the car is traveling doesn’t mean the engine is in use.
2. What Happens to Your Car if You Don’t Change the Oil?
So now you know how often you should be getting an oil change in Austin. Next, you may wonder what will happen if you…don’t. There are a few possibilities, all of them expensive.
Vehicle warranties are based on the assumption that you’ll care for the car properly. If you don’t, the manufacturer likely won’t honor the warranty. Oil changes are one of the most basic maintenance tasks you’ll have to deal with as a car owner, so don’t let it be the thing that voids your warranty!
But what actually happens to an engine when you skip oil changes? It’s nothing good. Over time, old oil turns into sludge, affecting engine performance and causing decreased fuel economy.
If you continue to drive, you’ll begin to damage the engine. Insufficient lubrication due to neglected oil changes can result in your engine overheating, leading to engine seizure or blown gaskets.
3. Signs You Need to Change Your Oil
At this point, we’ve established that you need to change your oil. Suppose you don’t have an electronic oil monitor in your vehicle. In that case, you’ll want to learn how to get the information from a dipstick.
A dipstick is a simple tool that enables you to measure the oil level in your engine. Here’s a basic guide on how to read a car’s dipstick:
- Park your car on a level surface and ensure the engine has been turned off for a few minutes. This allows the oil to settle back into the oil pan.
- Locate the dipstick. In most cars, the dipstick is a long, slender metal rod with a loop or handle on one end. It’s usually located near the front of the engine. It has a brightly colored handle, often in yellow or orange, for easy identification.
- Pull the dipstick out of its tube. Wipe it clean with a lint-free cloth or paper towel to remove any oil residue.
- Reinsert the dipstick back into its tube completely, then pull it out again.
- Observe the oil level on the dipstick. The dipstick has two marks or indicators that show the minimum and maximum oil levels. These marks can be represented by “MIN” and “MAX,” “L” and “H,” or simply two lines. The oil level should fall between these two marks.
- Examine the oil on the dipstick. Besides the oil level, you can also assess the condition of the oil. Fresh, clean oil typically has a transparent amber color. Does the oil appears dark, dirty, or have a milky consistency? It may indicate the need for an oil change or other engine issues.
- If the oil level is below the minimum mark, you will need to add oil. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or look for the oil filler cap under the hood to determine the type and grade of oil to use. Add oil gradually, rechecking the level with the dipstick until it reaches the recommended range.
Let’s say you don’t diligently check your car’s dipstick every month. Here are a few signs that the oil needs to be changed:
- Engine Noises: Knocking or ticking sounds can indicate inadequate lubrication.
- Exhaust Smoke: Abnormal smoke from the exhaust pipe may indicate oil-related issues.
- Vibrations and Warning Lights: Abnormal vibrations during idling and the illumination of the check engine or oil change light are indicators that an oil change is necessary.
If you notice any of these, make an appointment with a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.
4. What is the Difference Between Synthetic and Conventional Oil?
Synthetic and conventional oil are two types of engine oils with distinct characteristics. Synthetic oil is chemically engineered in a laboratory, offering superior performance and longevity compared to conventional oil. It is designed to provide better lubrication, reduce friction, and withstand extreme temperatures.
Synthetic oil has a more consistent molecular structure, which allows it to flow smoothly and provide optimal protection for engine components. It also has a longer lifespan, making it ideal for drivers who take shorter trips or live in regions with harsh climates. You’ll probably want to consider synthetic when getting an oil change in Austin but check with a trusted mechanic to be sure.
On the other hand, conventional oil is made from natural crude oil and undergoes minimal refining processes. It still provides lubrication but breaks down faster, especially at high temperatures. Conventional oil is often recommended for older vehicles or those with less demanding driving conditions.
While it’s generally recommended to stick with one type of oil, occasional swapping between synthetic and conventional oils is unlikely to cause significant issues.
Ultimately, the choice between synthetic and conventional oil depends on factors like the vehicle’s age, driving habits, and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Consulting your owner’s manual or seeking advice from a trusted automotive professional can help determine the most suitable oil for your car’s needs.
5. What If I Use the Wrong Oil in My Car?
If you use the wrong oil, your car will probably let you know about it. Here are a few things you might notice:
- Starting Issues
- Burning Smell
- Unusual Engine Noises
Just like driving with old or worn-out oil, continuously driving with the wrong oil can cause severe damage to your vehicle’s engine. You could find yourself with an expensive repair bill, so it’s best to be sure you’re using the correct oil for your car. When you get an oil change in Austin, be sure to check with your mechanic to determine the best oil for the climate, your driving style, and your vehicle.
Regular oil changes are a crucial part of vehicle maintenance. By following the manufacturer’s recommendations, being aware of the signs that indicate an oil change is necessary, and using the appropriate oil for your vehicle, you can ensure that your engine operates smoothly and efficiently. Don’t underestimate the impact of timely oil changes in preserving the life of your car and avoiding expensive repairs in the long run. Fortunately, getting an oil change in Austin is quick and easy. Schedule an appointment with us today to take care of yours!