Just like we live off of food and water to survive, your vehicle needs to be replenished with oil in order to run smoothly and efficiently. It keeps your engine parts lubricated, reduces wear and tear, and ultimately minimizes the heat within your vehicle. Periodically checking your oil is just as important as the oil change itself. You should check how much you have left during the process and if your oil contains any contaminants.
Your oil shouldn't "go anywhere" as if it is low, it is either leaking externally, internally, or being burned. Some newer vehicles, like some newer Subaru models, have technical service bulletins (TSB's) from the manufacturer stating that there is a normal amount of oil that the vehicle will "consume" or burn at a specific mileage interval. An example would be 1 qt of oil burned every 1,000 miles driven. If the vehicle holds 6 qts of oil, and the manufacturer knows that it burns 1 qt every 1,000 miles, and they recommend doing an oil change every 7,500 miles driven, then technically the vehicle would burn through the 6 qts of oil before it's next recommended service interval. This is why it is very important to check your oil (especially on newer vehicles) regularly, topping off the fluid as necessary, between oil changes. This is also why many repair shops are still recommending to replace the oil on either a 3,000 mile interval or 5,000 mile interval depending on if the vehicle calls for a full synthetic oil or a semi synthetic blend.
How Often Should I Check My Oil Levels?
We advise that you check your oil levels at least once a month. To make it easier, you can check it every time you fill up your gas tank. Especially with these summer months, we especially encourage you to check your oil before going on any road trip.
Checking your oil is an easy process that doesn't require any additional tools. Here are the steps to inspecting your oil:
- Make Sure Your Engine is Cool. Let your vehicle cool down before poking around. It is best to check the oil in the morning before the car has been turned on for the day. That way, all of the oil will have run back down into the oil pan.
- Make sure the vehicle is on level ground. If the vehicle is on a driveway or other uneven surface, it can skew the readings on the dip stick.
- Open the hood and prop the hood up so that you can have easy access.
- Locate the dipstick. The dipstick is almost always yellow and found near the engine.
- Pull out the dipstick and wipe it off with a towel first. Then proceed to reinsert the dipstick all the way and then pull it out again to examine the residue of oil on the dipstick.
- Proceed to observe the oil level. There should be two marks on the dipstick indicating the maximum and minimum amount of oil to operate. The oil you see should fall in between these marks and determine if you should add more. A good rule of thumb is that if the oil is below the minimum line, add a qt. Also, always make sure that you are adding the specific oil that your vehicle calls for.
- Check the color of the oil. The oil should be a light brown or tan color. If the color is darker in color or black or milky looking, then that means your oil has been contaminated or has run through it useful life. You will need to get it replaced.
Checking your oil is a simple process that every vehicle owner should know how to do and execute regularly. At Pickering's Auto, our trained mechanics can give you a thorough inspection and make the best recommendation on oil type. If you need assistance in regards to an oil change, our team of professionals at Pickering's Auto is ready to help! Call us today or schedule an appointment online today!