WAYS TO CHECK AND CHANGE YOUR CAR ENGINE OIL

Engine oil is a vital oil that one can say, keeps the engine and hence, your vehicle moving forward. Using the OEM, recommended engine oil for your bike, car, rickshaw or truck is a must in this case. 

It ensures efficient lubricity, prevention of unwanted friction to critical engine internal parts and provides cooling, cleaning as well as anti-corrosive properties. It’s safe to say that engine oils are essential to the overall smooth and effortless functioning of your vehicle.

When it comes to the effective operation of your bike or car, you must hold its maintenance at par. Similarly, frequent engine oil changes are necessary to ensure the effortless operation of your vehicle. 

This is because engine oils deteriorate over time. If used for a long time without changing, the engine oil becomes dirtier, darker, greasier and full of grime. 

This contaminated oil will not run well in the engine and underperform as a lubricant. More often than not, this oil leads to engine wear and overall, tends to cause more harm than good if left unchanged. 

Why Check Your Engine Oil?

Keeping regular checks on the condition of your engine oil is vital. This requires looking out for the consistency of the oil, pungent smells, decolouration, sludge or oil deposits at the bottom of the container. 

If you’ve just recently changed your engine oil, it will be amber-coloured/red-brown in colour along with being smooth, glossy, pure and runny as a fluid. 

As oil degrades over time once exposed to dust and dirt, there will be many indications to show signs of decay or expiry. As aforementioned, expired oil is darker and blacker in comparison to newly-bought engine oil which is transparent, light-coloured and smelly. 

This degraded oil also usually means a lot of exhaust smoke. Once you get to check the engine, it is suggested you look for deposits as well. 

Moreover, it is important to know that oil that is colour cream-coloured or foamy/milky, could be signs of a head gasket leak. Separation of additives and disintegration are also signs of expired oil. 

Additionally, your engine oil light will help in this regard. It will signal low oil pressure. And whether your engine oil is low, dirty or the possibility of an oil leak.

How to Check Your Engine Oil?

It is a wise practice to keep an eye on your engine oil conditions every once a month. However, we must follow appropriate directions to do so. The holy grail of vehicle information, your owner’s manual is your best friend in this case. 

This will include specific instructions about which engine oil is suitable for your vehicle model, the viscosity grade, how often you need to change it and the proper method to have to inspect your engine oil. 

Important Reminder: Many cars come with electronic engine oil indication so checking your manual in this case will do you good. 

Particularly, the steps to follow are;

Step 1:

Make sure you park your vehicle on level ground. Switch off the engine and allow the engine oil to cool down. This will usually take 10-15 minutes. 

Step 2:

We suggest wearing gloves during the course of the next steps to keep your hands clean and safe. Open the hood of the car and locate the dipstick. A dipstick is a tall-metal rod that measures the amount of engine oil in the container. To help identify it, it often has a red or orange coloured top, made of plastic.

Step 3:

Once you have located the dipstick, proceed to take it out. Checking this oil at this point is not advised since the reading tends to be inaccurate. Wipe the dipstick with a rag and put it back again in the container. Wait for some time and bring it back out again.

Step 4:

Examine the marking at the bottom of the dipstick. If the engine is low/high on oil or if it is in a good state or not.

Step 5:

Have a closer look at the engine oil as well. As mentioned above, scan for darker, thicker and dirtier oil. Also, check for oil deposits in the bottom. If found, it is time for an oil change.

Step 6:

Once done with all the above steps, wipe the dipstick clean and reinsert it. 

How to Change Your Engine Oil?

Expired oils can be an extremely toxic and hazardous chemical so when it comes to removing as well as disposing of it, you have to be cautious and safe. 

These contaminated oils have strange smells and also contain carcinogenic free radicals. It is highly important to use safe methods while handling, changing and replacing such oils.

The tools you require to change expired oil;

  • Engine Oil (Depends on Vehicle)
  • Oil Filter (Depends on Vehicle)
  • Gloves (Latex)
  • Oil Filter Wrench
  • Oil Filler Cap
  • Socket & Wrench Set
  • Jack (Optional)
  • Funnel

Firstly, you need a specific amount of engine oil with a particular viscosity grade that is recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. This information will be found in your owner manual. 

Ensure this step is religiously followed because just any engine oil with any viscosity grade won’t operate well in your engine. For example, using a 15W-30 or 15W-40 for your Royal Enfield bike will not do you any good because the bike manufacturer highly recommends 15W-50 for offering excellent lubrication, smoother engine performance and high protection. 

Any other engine oil will not function ideally as well as effectively. Now you know why you must meet all engine oil requirements of your vehicle model while replacing it.  

Important reminder: You would need to hoist the car up. This can be done with the help of a floor jack with safety stands or a couple of steep ramps (purpose-made).

Step 1:

Steady your car on level ground and keep the engine running to help warm the engine oil. Be careful to let it sit for too long because the oil should not be too hot. After some time, it’s time to pop up the car hood.

Step 2:

Raise the car if you have the available car-hoisting components and find the drain plug underneath the car. It will be situated on the oil pan. Get a container for collecting the used/expired oil. 

Slowly start loosening the drain plug with the help of a ratcheting wrench (proper size) and oil will start dripping into the container. Be mindful of the angle at which it will start falling down, hence, place your pan/collector accordingly. Once the oil is completely drained out, replug the oil drain plug. Make sure you tighten the plug. 

Step 3:

Now, we need to change the oil filter. This component is responsible for collecting dirt and other contaminants. It also filters out unburned fuel from circulating. 

After draining the oil, we must replace the oil filter. Begin with identifying the kind of oil filter the car has. One would be a filter with a screw-on which can be removed with the help of a few twists. 

Replace it with the new filter and apply some engine oil to the rubber O-ring for perfect sealing. 

The second type of filter will be an oil filter cartridge. To replace the old filter you would simply remove the cap. Get the filter out and put in the new filter. Don’t forget to tighten the filter. 

Step 4:

Now it is time to fill the new engine oil. For this, locate the engine bay in the hood of the car. The oil fill cap will need to be removed for this. It is found on the driver’s side of the bay. 

It is an opening to refill the oil. Once removed, proceed to fill the engine with the new oil with a funnel. 

Step 5:

As you have done so while checking the oil, repeat the same procedure here. Use the dipstick to measure the engine oil and make sure to remove it first, clean it and dip inside again for accurate readings. 

Your manual must mention the amount of fresh oil required, refer to the same while refilling it. If the reading is low, refill it slowly because you don’t want it to be more than necessary.

Step 6:

After refilling the engine with fresh oil, it is time to replace the oil filler cap. Once done, start your vehicle for half a minute or so. Check for any leaks as well as the under-car area. It is advised that you recheck your engine oil level for level. 

Disposing Your Engine Oil

Make sure you have gloves on for this. Now, you can transfer the used oil from the container to any waste/old bottle and ensure you have a disposable bag below the pan so that most of the oil can be collected without spillage. 

If it does spill, you can put sawdust or cat litter so that it soaks up easily and doesn’t stain. After the process, wash your hands thoroughly. 

Now, you can easily transfer the oil from the waste bag to an old bottle by poking a hole in the bag and collecting it directly in the bottle itself.

In many countries dumping waste oil is hazardous waste because when you dispose of it on the ground, it may destroy nearby vegetation and damage the soil. 

It is also not the best of options to dump it in the garbage. Instead what you can do is store the expired oil in the packaging the new oil had come in or a plastic/old bottle.

Airtight sealing is a must. Then, you can give it back to the retail store you bought it from or the auto-service store near you. There are also certified collection centres around you which take the expired oil to recycle it for you if the oil is clean. 

However, it’s best to deliver contaminated oil to the nearest local waste disposal centre. You can google these locations to find them. 

Conclusion

Maintenance goes hand in hand with ideal and high-performance from your vehicle. Consequently, car owners can benefit a lot from regular checks of their engine oil. In addition to checking, changing your oil is also not a very difficult process. 

Since timely replacement of your engine oil is a must, these checks go a long way in ensuring you get smooth drives everyday. 

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