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Signs You Need an Oil Change ASAP

​​​​​​​Signs You Need an Oil Change ASAP​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Do you drive in fear of your dashboard’s service warning lights? 

Do you avoid getting basic maintenance done on your vehicle for way too long? 

Are you so traumatized from the time your dad made you change your own oil that you don’t even know how to gauge your car’s oil level? 


Continue reading to learn how to measure your own oil level with a dipstick, how to tell if you’re overdue for an oil change, how long you should go between oil changes, and some tips for keeping your engine running happily for a long time.  


Signals from your vehicle that it may be overdue for an oil change or in need of service: 


  1. Dark, dirty, or stinky oil present: When you check your oil, it should be brown or black in color. If you see any other color or debris, it’s mucky, or emits a burning smell, your oil is likely very low.
    1. Need help navigating a dipstick? Keep reading to learn how to navigate testing the health of your car’s oil. 
  2. Low oil: A low oil reading is the #1 indicator that your car needs to get an oil change. 
    1. However, if your vehicle consistently has low oil, it may be time to have a conversation with your mechanic about identifying a root cause or explanation for your predicament.  
  3. Weak fuel efficiency: Your tank of gas isn’t seeming to take you as far as usual. The source could be a past-due oil change.  
  4. Dark exhaust smoke or burning oil smell: The presence of either of these symptoms can be a strong indicator of a problem with your vehicle.  
  5. Stalling engine: You know it when you hear it. A temporarily or continually stalled engine can be a sign that your car needs an oil change.  
  6. Presence of Service Warning Lights: Whenever a service light appears unexpectedly on your dash, it may be a good time to consider getting your vehicle serviced. Make sure to let your mechanic know what specific warning lights were present for you. 


If your car is emitting any of these critical warning signs, Do Not Pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to a diagnostic appointment. 


Still unsure if you need an oil change? 


Personal indicators that you may need to schedule an oil change appointment soon: 


  1. Oil Change Golden Rule: You’ve driven past the typical 6-month range, or you’ve driven 5,000+ miles since your last oil change.  
    1. Pro Tip: You can usually find information about your last oil change on a sticker on the top left corner of your windshield. It’ll either tell you the date and mileage of your last oil change OR it’ll provide the mileage and date of your future oil change.  
  2. Newbie Driver: You’re new to handling vehicle maintenance all on your own and you’re just not sure how oil changes work for your specific car. 
  3. The Dad Principle: Your dad is hounding you about when your last oil change was. If you have no clue, with love, we’d suggest booking an appointment sooner rather than later.  
  4. Hot! Hot! Hot!: You notice that your car’s engine is beginning to run a little hot – always take note when this happens and consider heading to the mechanic if it persists or escalates.  
  5. Hybrid Drivers: If you drive a hybrid, you still need to get your oil changed regularly. It’s recommended that Hybrid drivers should generally follow a regular oil change schedule: twice a year or every 5,000 miles. 


So, as a test… How long you can go between oil changes? 


Answer: 6 months or 5,000 miles! 


So, now that we’ve established some warning signs that you’re due for an oil change, let’s establish some good habits for oil changes going forward.


Best oil change practices for every car:


  1. A Pre-Vacation Necessity: Change your oil before taking your car on a long road trip so it doesn’t become an issue down the line. No one wants a car malfunction during the family beach vacation. Grandma would never let you live it down.  
  2. Required Reading: Research the best kind of oil for your specific make and model. For example, some Sport models require a different type of oil that is often a bit more expensive. This specific kind of oil tends to last drivers about 7,500 miles versus the usual 5,000-mile oil change range. So, we recommend looking into your vehicle’s preferred oil maintenance routine.  
  3. For Sedentary Vehicles: If you don’t drive your car very often or won’t put 5,000 miles on your car for a LONG time, make sure you’re remembering to change your oil every 6 months regardless. This is something folks with a “bonus car” should keep in mind. 
  4. Be Proactive: Avoid waiting for the dashboard light to get your oil changed by setting a 6-month or 5,000-mile reminder. This keeps your car running in tip-top shape. Though our car’s built-in sensors are helpful for remembering routine maintenance, it’s best to not wait until your car’s oil change light comes to life on your dash.  
  5. A Dipstick Isn’t an Insult it’s a Tool: Check your oil once a month or so with a dipstick. You want to check the MIN/MAX or L/H (Low/Hot) oil level indicators on the dipstick to give you a clear reading. If the oil lands at or below the minimum marker, then your car probably needs an oil change. If the oil marker lands between the Min and Max, your oil level is A-OK.  
    1. Pro Tip: Make sure your car is totally cooled off and is parked on level ground before testing your oil. This will help you to safely get the most accurate dipstick results.  


Still have a lingering question about your car's oil?  


If so, feel free to contact a professional auto technician online today. Or you can head over to McCarthy Jeep RAM Chrysler Dodge of Lee’s Summit today to enjoy some of our luxurious amenities while we chat or service your vehicle. It’s our pleasure to provide the KC community with the top-tier customer service and automotive expertise we’re famous for.  


At McCarthy Jeep RAM Chrysler Dodge, we’re proud to offer the best automotive sales and service this side of the Mississippi. Visit us Monday through Saturday at 1051 SE Oldham Pkwy, Lees Summit, MO 64081 or call us anytime at 816-434-0674 to speak with one of our many skilled representatives.