If there is one aspect of vehicle maintenance that most vehicle owners allow to fall by the wayside, it is probably getting routine oil changes. This is mildly disappointing, considering how affordable and accessible an oil change can be – in truth, many car and truck owners change their own oil to save time and money – and yet, despite the fact that it is not an esoteric bit of knowledge, month in and month out, people let their engine run on oil or burned oil.
While many car owners may not be aware that they should replace their tires when their treads start to wear, or to replace their spark plugs every 30,000 miles or so, there’s no secret about the fact that cars need oil changes. It’s probably the most well-known aspect of routine maintenance that car owners are encouraged to keep.
If you’re looking for an oil change “near me,” just take this grain of wisdom. You’re doing a good thing, and you can’t really change your oil too much. You can, however, let it go too long, and here’s why routine oil changes make a legitimate difference in the health of your vehicle.
What an Oil Change Actually Does
Generally speaking, oil is contained in a reservoir known as a sump, from which it is transferred between the different components of an engine via pathways known as oil galleries that carry the oil. An oil pump provides the power to do this.
The oil pump pushes the oil through the galleries where it will come in contact with various moving components of your engine. The oil in your vehicle plays a vital role in lubricating the crankshaft, the pistons, cylinder bores, bearings, and other moving parts of the engine. The oil itself first lubricates these moving components, then leaves behind a residue that continues to provide lubrication.
The oil also helps to flush away impurities and carry heat away from the moving parts, minimizing friction. The oil filter will catch many of these impurities before the oil is recirculated back through the engine via the oil pump. As for the heat, the oil carries away some of the heat produced by the engine’s components, it transfers that heat back to the oil sump. Air is consistently circulated over the oil sump to help vent some of this heat away from the sump so that cooler oil can be returned to the engine, beginning the cycle again.
So, in a nutshell, oil provides several vital functions for an engine, being lubrication, a cleansing effect by removing particulate matter, and a cooling effect by absorbing heat and then carrying it away from the engine. Without oil, an engine would overheat and destroy itself in short order.
Luckily, your vehicle will sometimes give you signs that it’s time for you to start typing “oil change near me,” into your phone. While you should get routine oil changes regardless (depending on usage, conditions, and mileage), sometimes you’ll be lucky enough that your vehicle will tell you it’s time to do so.
Signs Your Oil Needs to Be Changed
If your car is giving you any of the following signs, then there’s a good chance you may need to change your oil right away. Remember, oil is like the blood that lubricates your vehicle’s engine, and if it is breaking down and failing to do its job, you’re actively harming your vehicle!
- Rough idling or dirty exhaust
If your oil is not lubricating your engine as it should be, or its viscosity has been altered by excessive temperatures or wear, you might notice that your car runs more roughly or that it does not idle smoothly. If the car doesn’t idle smoothly, it might be a sign that your engine oil needs to be changed. Now, remember, there’s more than one thing that can cause an engine to idle roughly, but if your car’s ride gets rougher and you haven’t changed your oil in a while, it’s something to look into without a doubt. Either way, it’s something that needs to be addressed.
In addition, dirty exhaust may also be a sign that you need to change your oil sooner rather than later. Again, this is a symptom that can be caused by more than one factor, but it’s not something to avoid. A harsh burst smell or smoke can also be an indicator that your engine oil is burning, breaking down, or that your oil is not lubricating your engine appropriately.
- Low levels
You can also check your oil level by checking your dipstick under your hood. This is a long metal strip that dips into the oil reservoir and typically has a little yellow plastic ring. It’s also usually labeled so it’s tough to miss.
Pull out the dipstick and look at the level of your oil to get a subjective impression of your oil levels. The dipstick will probably be marked (this will vary depending on the vehicle, check the owner’s manual for manufacturer suggestions) and your oil should reach up to or just below the mark indicated. If it doesn’t you may be leaking oil, it might be breaking down, or something else. However, in any of these cases, it’s a sign that you need to change your oil or there is another similar issue that needs to be addressed.
- Oil looks or smells burnt
While you’re under the hood, if you’re checking your oil levels, you should also pay very close attention to the oil color and smell, even if the levels aren’t falling. Fresh oil is usually a light straw color and nearly transparent. As oil ages or burns from heat or pressure, it will become darker. When you check the fluid, note this: the darker your oil, typically the lower the health of the oil.
Additionally, even if your oil is not dark, indicating low oil life, if it has a burnt, acrid smell, it’s time to change it. Over time, and with heat and pressure, your oil may burn, which will cause it to chemically break down and possibly thicken. In both of these situations, the oil will cease to do its job as it should.
There are two more things for you to consider here. One is that many conditions besides oil health can cause these symptoms, but they still need to be addressed. The other is that your oil may have started to fail even without presenting these symptoms, so a failure to recognize these symptoms does not mean that you don’t need an oil change, so be aware of that.
Why You Actually Need an “Oil Change Near Me,” When the Time Comes
With all of that in mind, there are plenty of reasons that it’s worth your time, efforts, and money to keep fresh, new oil in your vehicle and to change your oil as frequently as recommended if not more frequently. We feel we’ve made a strong case for the need to change your oil routinely, but in case you were wondering, here are some of the main benefits to keep your oil fresh or routinely change it.
- Reduces engine wear
Obviously, fresh engine oil will reduce engine wear, as your engine oil lubricates all of the main components of your engine to keep them in good working order. Over time, the components of your engine will wear down, and even the most lightly used vehicles will need an engine rebuild or a new engine if you keep them long enough – but fresh, healthy oil is the first defense in your camp between you and excessive engine wear.
It’s also one of the keys to a healthy and happy engine that doesn’t give you much to worry about. Naturally, you’ll want to change your spark plugs routine, keep your air filter fresh and run the right fuel – but running fresh oil through your engine, as often or more often than you think you need to, will keep everything running smoothly, literally.
- Keeps heat and friction down which extends engine life
The lubrication that oil – both synthetic motor oil and conventional oil – provides your engine extends beyond reducing wear and tear. Oil also protects your engine by shielding it against friction and extreme temperatures. Friction will of course cause premature wear, but extreme temperatures will injure your engine in more ways than one.
For one thing, when metals are subjected to extreme temperatures, they can deform or become destabilized. Extremely high temperatures can also make them weaker and more prone to wear or stress-induced damage, so as you can see, keeping your engine cooler might not be the prime function of engine oil, but it does further shield your engine from damage.
- Reduces emissions
Simply put, an engine that runs smoothly and efficiently produces fewer harmful emissions. As your oil ages, breaks down, thickens, or burns, it will allow hydrocarbons to build up in the engine. Impartial combustion and higher heat can both cause higher emissions to be released, which is not good for the environment and can even cause your vehicle to fail inspection.
Even if the key point you take away from this is that you need to routinely change your oil to prevent yourself from failing a vehicle inspection, that’s good enough for us. Whatever it takes to get our clients to take excellent care of their vehicles is worth it.
- Improves fuel economy and engine performance
If you need another monetary reason that it’s worth it to keep your vehicle in top running condition with routine oil changes and other maintenance services, remember this: an engine that runs more smoothly will provide better fuel economy, all things considered.
So an oil change might cost you a few dollars every couple of months, but there’s a good chance you can earn that back with better fuel economy, especially in the long run. Keeping your fuel system clean and your engine running smoothly pays dividends and some of them are in the form of money.
- It will keep your engine clean
If you need another reason to invest the time and money in routine oil changes and other similar maintenance, don’t forget that fresh oil will help to keep your engine clean as well. One of the oil’s chief functions is to float away fine particulate matter as it lubricates the engine. Otherwise, these little particles could abrade or clog the components of your engine, diminishing the performance, increasing friction, and slowing everything down. In other words, a cleaner engine runs more smoothly and will last longer.
- Protects and extends the value of your vehicle
Add everything here up and you will come to a pretty clear conclusion, one way or the other. A vehicle that has had its oil changed routinely is just going to last longer than one that has not had routine oil services. At the very least, the engine will last longer, and that’s pretty important if you ask us.
Also, if for no other reason than the following, remember that keeping your oil changed on schedule may keep you within the terms of your warranty, which may insulate you against voiding it. In addition, a vehicle with a reliable service record will hold its value better, so if you’re concerned about resale value, you should keep that in mind.
So there you have what are probably our best reasons that when you start to think it’s time to “find a place for an oil change near me,” it’s worth taking the whim seriously. Lucky for you, we have several locations throughout Arizona, including shops in Tucson, Mesa, and Phoenix. If you’re in our state, you’re never too far away from our legendary services, including but not limited to our oil change services.
You can schedule an appointment online to come in and see us, but we’d love to hear from you. Call up the location closest to you and let us know what you need for your vehicle. We’ll provide quick, honest, reliable service – oil change or otherwise – and have you on your way. Your vehicle is in good hands with our A.S.E. Certified Technicians!