4 Things to Look for When Checking Your Oil

It's easy to check the oil in your car using the dipstick under the hood. Most cars will have several dipsticks for different fluid reservoirs, so consult your owner's manual to locate the engine oil reservoir and corresponding dipstick. 

If you've never done it before, it's really simple. First, pull out the dipstick and use a cloth or paper towel to wipe off any old oil that may be on it. Dip it all the way back in and pull it out to get a fresh sample. It's a good idea to check your oil every so often because you want to make sure you have enough healthy oil in the pan to help keep your engine running smoothly. If not, it's time for an oil change!

When you do take the time to check your own oil, here are 4 things you should look for according to the Colorado Springs auto repair experts at LightHouse Automotive:

1. Level

The most obvious purpose of the oil dipstick is to give you an indicator of the current oil level in the pan. It will have marks to show you the ideal amount with a marked range you want to be in. If the oil level is low, that is a major concern. You may just need to top it off with some fresh oil (make sure you use the right type and weight according to your owner's manual). Sometimes, you may see that there is too much oil in there. This is not as big a concern (especially if it's only a little above the mark), but it is worth monitoring. It may mean the oil is not being properly pulled and circulated through the engine system. 

2. Consistency

Fresh oil will be be nice and viscous, with a translucent appearance. If it is thick, sticky, crusty or dirty in any way, then that means the oil is due for replacement. It's time to get an oil change to replace the oil filter, drain the pan of the bad oil and refill it with fresh motor oil.

3. Color

Healthy oil is a very light brown or golden color, and it will be quite translucent (some synthetics and blends are almost clear) when it is very fresh. If it is dark in color or has a weird consistency as noted in #2, then you definitely want to get your oil changed as soon as possible. The longer you run old or dirty oil through the engine, the more likely you are to have engine problems. The motor has many fast-moving parts that need proper lubrication from the engine oil.

4. Smell

Lastly, you can sometimes smell when the oil is due for replacement. It should have a fairly neutral smell that is not very strong. Some synthetic oils may have a different smell than standard weight oils. If it smells significantly like gasoline or has a "burnt" odor, then that's a sign it needs to be replaced.

In many cases, you'll notice all four of these things when the oil is really old or in really bad shape. It will look funny, feel funny and smell funny in addition to the level probably being lower than it should be. 

If you need an oil change or suspect there is something else wrong with your engine or oil lines, call LightHouse Automotive today at (719) 465-0302 or schedule your service appointment online.

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Car Care Tips
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