Your car's oil serves as the primary lubrication agent for your engine. If your oil level drops too low, or if your oil becomes contaminated with grime, dirt and other contaminants, there can be a number of negative effects on the performance of your vehicle. Understanding the warning signs of low or contaminated oil can help you replace your vehicle's oil supply before it begins to cause problems.
One of the most common signs of contaminated or low levels of oil is if your engine is suddenly running rougher and louder than usual. This includes odd sounds, like knocking or banging. These sounds are because the oil within your car's system is not providing proper lubrication to the moving parts of the engine, increasing the amount of friction that it experiences. This can have a number of consequences on your engine itself, as increased friction increases the amount of wear that your engine experiences, which can shorten its lifespan.
Color and Texture
If you think that you may be overdue for an oil change, you should check the qualities of your car's oil to see what condition it is in. Simply open up the oil reservoir and take out the dipstick, wiping it down with a paper towel. The reservoir is usually located near the engine block of your vehicle and should be clearly marked, but if you have difficulty locating it, consult your owner's manual.
Motor oil has a semi-transparent, light brown coloring to it and only becomes black as it becomes contaminated. These contaminants can gum up the moving parts of your engine and can increase overall wear. It's also a good idea to run a little bit of the oil between your fingers to determine the texture: oil should be smooth and slippery. Any sort of grinding or coarseness points to dirt and other materials within the oil, which can cause damage to your engine.
Another good indicator that your oil is overdue for a change is if your vehicle suddenly has reduced performance and does not accelerate as quickly as it usually does. This is because your oil is improperly lubricating your engine, forcing it to work harder and less efficiently, translating into slower acceleration. In a similar vein, you may find that your vehicle has a hard time maintaining high speeds for the very same reason. If you notice that your car suddenly begins performing worse than it should, your oil may be to blame.
If you don't know how to change your car's oil, take your vehicle into an auto shop like Benchmark Motors INC.