How Does an Oil Change Work?

999 × 406When it comes to ensuring your vehicle’s long-term health and performance, regular oil changes are essential. However, if you’ve never seen the process done before, you may have reason to ask, “how does an oil change work?”

Simply put, the function of an oil change is to clear old, dirty oil from your vehicle’s engine, and to replace it with a fresh supply. For most drivers in the Chicagoland area, the process involves nothing but a quick stop in to your local service center, where trained technicians will get you back on the road in no time.

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What Does Your Oil Do?

Motor oil lubricates the engine of your vehicle, making sure that all of its moving parts continue to function as their manufacturers intended. In addition to providing lubrication, engine oil carries heat away from these moving parts, and circulates it to foster a more even temperature distribution. Since dirty oil is less able to manage these tasks, one of the main consequences of skipping an oil change is an overheating, malfunctioning engine.

Over time, skipping oil changes could lead to permanent damage. This is why it’s so important to get to a service center when your oil light comes on!

How Often Should I Change My Oil?

Some third-party service centers tell drivers to change their oil once every 3,000 miles, or once every three months, whichever comes first. However, unless you’re driving under particularly strenuous conditions, you probably only need to change your oil once every 5,000-7,500 miles. Some modern vehicles can even go up to 10,000 miles between oil changes. Check your owner’s manual or talk to an expert to get precise intervals for your vehicle. Your owner’s manual will also recommend either conventional or synthetic oil.

Clean oil will naturally darken in tone as it operates in your vehicle. If you notice that your oil is particularly dark, or has small particles suspended within it, you should change your oil sooner, rather than later.

How to Check Your Oil at Home

It’s important to maintain proper oil levels at all time. Thankfully, it’s easy to check your oil levels at home. Some vehicles have electronic monitors that display your oil levels when you start the car, while others have to be checked using traditional dipsticks.

If you’re performing a manual oil check, you can determine your level by taking the following steps:

  • Park your vehicle on level ground. Turn the engine off and let the vehicle go cold.
  • Locate the dipstick underneath the vehicle’s hood
  • Retract the dipstick and wipe it clean. Since oil moves around in your engine, you can’t get an accurate read on the first draw.
  • Re-insert the dipstick as far as it will go, and then retract it once more.
  • You should be able to locate a small “level” indication line on one or both sides of your dipstick. If the oil is at or near this line, or within this cross-hatched section, then you’re good to go.
  • If it’s too low or too high, it’s a good idea to get into a trusted service center right away.

You can add more oil yourself if it’s too low, but since too much oil is also a problem, you’ll want to exercise caution, loading just a little at a time, if you decide to go this route. Check your owner’s manual to ensure you’re adding the right grade of oil.

Should I Change My Own Oil?

If you have spare time on your hands, and don’t mind the possibility of getting your hands dirty, you can always change your oil at home. Once you’ve selected the correct oil, all you need to do is:

  • Check your levels
  • Drain out the old oil into a pan beneath your vehicle
  • Replace the oil filter
  • Reattach the drain plug
  • Fill up again with new oil

The process may sound simple enough, but in most cases, it will be quicker and easier to take your car into the service center at Chicago Northside Toyota. Our work is always affordable, but drivers can keep an eye on our service specials and Chicago oil change coupons to get an even better deal on this essential maintenance.

Schedule Your Oil Change with Chicago Northside Toyota

Even if you live out in Oak Park or Chicago, getting the vehicle maintenance you need is easy when you come to Chicago Northside Toyota. Contact us or schedule service online to get the oil change that you need, today.

Keep up with our blog for more tips on how to identify strange car noises and rotate your tires.

Categories: Service, Tips, Car Maintenance