If you’re new to car maintenance, you may have questions on how to keep up with your car’s oil levels—one of the most important aspects of car maintenance. Here is a quick guide to checking your oil and knowing when to top it off versus get an oil change.

How Often to Get an Oil Change

The purpose of an oil change is to drain from your car old oil that has lost much of its lubricating properties due to heat exposure and to replace it with new oil—preferably one that will help increase your car’s fuel efficiency. Every 3,000 miles is the popular number for how often to get an oil change, but depending on your car you might be able to go longer between oil changes. Ford, for example, recommends that owners of 2008 models or newer of their vehicles have their oil changed every 7,500 miles or six months—whichever comes first. And then for vehicles from 2007 or earlier, Ford recommends getting an oil change every 5,000 miles. It’s best to check with your car’s owner’s manual to see what it recommends. When in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of safety and have your oil changed.

Assessing Your Car’s Oil

Assessing your car’s oil will tell you two things: 1) how much oil your car has, and 2) whether that oil needs to be changed. The steps here are rather straightforward. Check the oil dipstick on a cold engine by pulling out the dipstick, wiping it with a clean rag, then pulling it up again to assess the oil level and color.

You Need to Change Your Oil If…

…the oil is cloudy and gritty in texture. This is oil that has spent a great deal of time being exposed to heat and thus no longer has the lubricating qualities it first had when you added it to your car.

You Need to Top Off Your Oil If…

…the oil still looks fairly clean, but the oil level is close to the “add” indicator on your oil dipstick. Check your car’s owner’s manual to see which type of oil your car requires, then pick some up at an auto parts store and pour it into your oil tank.

We at Master Muffler are here to help, and oil changes are just one of the many car maintenance services we offer. If your car is due for an oil change, or you’d simply like to give it a good “spring cleaning,” take it in for us to have a look at today.