Kwik Fit | Wednesday 11th July 2018 9:15am
You might not normally pay much attention to the oil in your car, but it plays an essential role in keeping you on the roads. By lubricating the moving parts in the engine and cooling, cleaning, and protecting these parts, it helps to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly and your engine doesnít seize up.
Over time, oil picks up dirt and its chemical composition changes, making it less effective at performing its role. This is why itís so important to keep an eye on your engine oil and to replace it whenever necessary.
Keep reading for top tips to help you identify when the oil in your car needs to be replaced, and for advice on how to dispose of this liquid correctly and safely.
Is it time for a change?
So, youíve just checked the dipstick and discovered that the oil level in your car is fine. This means thereís no need to change your oil, right? Actually, this may be wrong. Of course, the oil level in your engine is extremely important, and if it drops then you need to top it up. However, this isnít the only indicator that you need to consider. Simply checking the level of oil on the dipstick doesnít tell you anything about the foreign particles and dirt that may have accumulated in the oil, and it doesnít let you know if its chemical makeup has degraded.
In order to assess the condition of the oil, you need to check its colour and general appearance. New oil is light brown and transparent. Over time as itís used, it begins to change. It gets darker and slowly becomes thicker and turns opaque. Whereas fresh oil looks similar to maple syrup, oil thatís been used for thousands of miles tends to be black and much more viscous, eventually taking on a tar-like appearance. If your oil looks like this, the chances are itís time to change it.
If youíre prepared to get your hands dirty, you can also check its consistency. Take a small amount of oil from the end of the dipstick and simply rub it between your fingers. If you notice any grit, this is another sign that it may need to be replaced.
Check the owner's manual
Itís also possible to see if you need an oil change without even opening the bonnet. Your car manual will outline the number of miles you can drive before changing your oil, so a straightforward calculation should help you to decide if you need to take action. Vehicle manufacturers used to advise drivers to change the oil every 3,000 miles, but thanks to improvements in the lubricants now used in cars, this figure is usually much higher. Furthermore, we recommend checking once a month or before long distance journeys.
Also, lots of modern cars keep track of scheduled oil changes themselves. If your vehicle does this, a warning light will appear on your dashboard when your next change is due.
Look out for tell-tale signs
There are also tell-tale signs to watch out for that could suggest your car needs new oil. For example, if your oil level keeps dropping, this may suggest you have a leak or that your oil is losing its lubricating properties and your engine is therefore using more of it to keep running smoothly.
In addition, if your engine starts to sound louder than usual, this is another hint that something could be amiss with your oil. Increased noise can be a sign that the moving parts in your engine are grinding against each other, potentially causing damage.
If in doubt, ask an expert
If youíre not sure if your engine oil needs to be replaced, get an expert to check it out. When it comes to keeping your engine running smoothly, thereís no room for taking risks. If you leave it too long between changes, you could do serious damage to your car and land yourself with a big bill.
For expert advice, you can call into your nearest Kwik Fit centre for a free oil check.
What should I do with the used oil?
Most people get specialist technicians to change their engine oil, but if you prefer to get stuck in and do these types of vehicle maintenance tasks yourself, itís important that you know what youíre doing. This liquid can be dangerous and polluting if itís not handled correctly, so make sure you take extra care when doing this and have all the relevant equipment to hand.
For example, you should ensure you have an oil spill kit on standby before you drain the old oil from your engine. You can buy this equipment online, from DIY chains or from car part suppliers. Youíll also need a purpose-made sump canister or a drip tray to hold the oil safely as you drain it.
Itís vital that you store your used oil in a suitable plastic or metal container until youíre able to dispose of it. The container you use must have a lid that you can fasten securely to prevent any spills when youíre transporting it. Ensure you donít mix the oil with household chemicals or other automotive fluids, and avoid using containers that have previously stored these substances.
Find your local oil bank
Whatever you do, donít be tempted to simply pour your oil onto the ground or down the drain. If you do this, youíre not only polluting the environment - youíre also breaking the law and are at risk of being prosecuted.
To dispose of your oil legally and safely, youíll need
to find your local oil bank. The Oil Care Campaign, which is a joint initiative
between industry, trade, and professional bodies and UK environmental
regulators, provides details of these banks, so you shouldnít struggle to get
the information you need online.
How can Kwik Fit help?
If youíre not sure whether your car needs new oil, or you donít fancy the job of changing your oil yourself, donít hesitate to get in touch with the team at Kwik Fit. Our oil and filter change package includes an oil and filter change, as well as a range of other important car safety checks. This could be ideal if you want to ensure your engineís running smoothly but you donít want to arrange a full service.
Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.
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