7 Tips About Your Car and Its Oil

September 11th, 2020 by

A closeup shows a hand using a rag to check the oil level on a dipstick.

If you have owned a car for any length of time, then you have heard about the oil in your vehicle’s engine and the need for an occasional oil change. Even if you don’t have a car, you’ve probably heard of oil change service and having to occasionally check the oil in a vehicle – it’s referenced in plenty of movies and TV shows, or simply in everyday conversation. Proper car maintenance goes beyond simply getting your oil changed when you get a reminder in the mail or a phone call, however, and it’s very important.

We’re not going to pretend like vehicle maintenance is glamorous, but proper maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your car running great and to extend its lifespan. These aren’t the kinds of things you’re born knowing, however, so it’s easy to not know what to do and when. Today, we’re going to take a moment to help you out with some tips to keep your vehicle in the best condition possible. And if you have any questions or need oil change service, then come visit our Joliet dealership just or give us a call.

#1 – When to Check Your Oil

Checking your oil level is easy to forget since it’s something you probably don’t think about. After all, the oil in your engine is doing its thing every single day, and as long as all goes well, there are no problems. When something goes wrong, however, it tends to go very wrong and can be a major issue (and expense).

That’s why it’s so important to check your oil fairly frequently. To be safe, we often recommend checking your oil level once a month – yes, that often. This might seem like overkill, but checking your oil every month makes it a lot easier to find when something is wrong, like low oil levels, before it creates a major problem for you. Once you get in the habit of doing this, it will be easy, and it only takes a few minutes.

#2 – How to Check Your Oil

The proper way to check the oil in your vehicle depends on the model of your car, truck, or SUV. Some vehicles, particularly luxury models, have electronic oil monitors that do not allow for a manual inspection of your oil level. But most vehicles have a dipstick that goes down into your engine, which you can use to manually check your oil. Take a look at the driver’s manual for your vehicle to figure out the right way to do it.

If you have a model with a dipstick, then make sure your vehicle is parked on even ground, not on an incline, and have the engine off – it’s best if it’s still cool. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, then insert it and pull it out again. Looking at the dipstick, there will be an indication of where the oil level should be at – if it’s there, then you’re good. If it’s low, then you need to add some oil for proper engine operation.

The oil light is lit up on a car's information cluster, indicating that oil change service is needed.

#3 – Recognize Your Oil Level Warning Light

Checking your oil is all well and good, but you should also be mindful of when your vehicle tells you that something is wrong. There’s a very high chance that one of the warning lights on your dashboard is specifically there to let you know when you have an issue with your motor oil. Your oil light will usually look like a small lamp (think the kind that a genie comes out of, not the kind on your end table) with a drip coming out of it.

If you see this light come on, then it usually means you are low on oil. Perhaps you have forgotten to check your oil recently, and this is a good indicator that you need to add some more. If you know you had enough oil in your vehicle very recently, and suddenly find that you’re low, then you could have a leak, so be careful.

#4 – Watch Out for Leaks

Oil leaks can be quite nefarious since you might not even notice them until you end up unexpectedly low on oil. One of the best ways to be mindful of the possibility of an oil leak is to check your oil level regularly. If you find that you are routinely low on oil – either during a check or due to your oil light coming on – then it’s quite likely you have a leak somewhere.

You can also keep an eye on any parking spot you frequently use, inside your garage or elsewhere. If you notice oil on the ground, pay attention to whether it’s an old stain or seems fresh and still wet. Any time you notice oil where you’ve been parked – or regularly park – that’s a sign that you may have a leak and should consider head on over to our service center to get it looked at.

The oil light is lit up on a car's information cluster, indicating that oil change service is needed.

#5 – When to Change Your Oil

Even if you do everything right, you’ll still need to change your oil on a fairly regular basis. Simply by doing its job, your motor oil will get dirty, which makes it work much less efficiently. Oil will also break down over time, so you need to get it changed regularly even if you don’t drive much. By changing your oil on a regular basis, you ensure new, clean oil is in your motor, properly lubricating your engine’s moving parts.

In the past, the conventional wisdom was to change your oil every 3,000 miles or every three months, but that is no longer the case. Vehicles are made to be more efficient, and motor oil is engineered to work better and last longer than before. Getting your oil changed too often is quite wasteful and is not particularly good for your vehicle. The best way to know when to change your oil is to look at the owner’s manual for your car. Find what it says and follow that schedule – though if your oil light comes on or you have a leak, then you should take your vehicle in right away.

#6 – Conventional vs. Synthetic Oil

We could spend a lot of time just discussing conventional vs. synthetic oils and which one you should choose, but we’ll keep it simple (at least for now). Conventional oil is fairly inexpensive and works okay, but it doesn’t last as long and is less effective. Synthetic oil is more expensive, but it keeps your engine running better and can actually help clean your engine while you drive.

This means that synthetic oil is the better choice. While there is also the option of choosing a conventional-synthetic blend, and some drivers even alternate between conventional and synthetic oil to save money, you are better off sticking with full synthetic. It may cost a bit more, but that extra money is a small price to pay to keep your car in the best condition possible.

#7 – The Importance of Motor Oil

So now that all is said and done, why should you care anyway? Your engine is very hot and filled with moving parts rubbing against each other. Motor oil keeps those parts moving smoothly instead of grinding against one another. Running an engine without enough oil is a quick way to turn it into a very large, heavy, and expensive paperweight. If you are ready for your next oil change, then come visit us at Thomas Nissan today, and we’ll get you back on the road in no time.

Posted in Oil Change Service