5 Things to Know About Oil Changes for Your Car

If you’re confused about motor oil—the right time to change it, how often to change it, what’s the best oil for your car—Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic, John Ibbotson, can set you straight.

1. When to Change the Oil

The answer to a lot of these questions is the same: Check your owner’s manual. It should be your car maintenance and operation bible. Don’t make assumptions on the interval based on past experiences or guidance from mechanics who profit from the work, because the timing has evolved over the years.

Many cars, pickups, and SUVs now have service reminder monitors that alert drivers when to change their oil. “These systems typically monitor the number of miles a vehicle has traveled, and they also sense how hard the car is being driven, and adjust accordingly,” Ibbotson says.

Make sure you get your oil change soon after you receive such an alert.

Oil level gauge.

2. How Often to Check the Oil Level

Checking car oil.

You should keep an eye on your car’s oil levels. Our reliability survey results have shown that even newer cars can need the oil to be topped off between changes.

CR recommends checking your oil level at least once a month. Be sure to get repairs done at the first sign of a leak.

Check the owner’s manual and follow the automaker’s recommendations. Some newer cars have electronic oil monitors and don’t have traditional dipsticks for manual inspection.

If you do have a dipstick, and you’re checking it yourself, make sure the car is parked on level ground. If the engine has been running, be aware of potential hot spots under the hood.

With the engine off, open the car’s hood and find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out from the engine and wipe any oil off from its end. Then insert the dipstick back into its tube and push it all the way back in.

Pull it back out, and this time quickly look at both sides of the dipstick to see where the oil is on the end. Every dipstick has some way of indicating the proper oil level, whether it be two pinholes, the letters L and H (low and high), the words MIN and MAX, or simply an area of crosshatching. If the top of the oil “streak” is between the two marks or within the crosshatched area, the level is fine.

But if the oil is below the minimum mark, you need to add oil.

Pay close attention to the oil’s color. It should appear brown or black. But if it has a light, milky appearance, this could mean coolant is leaking into the engine. Look closely for any metal particles, too, because this could mean there is internal engine damage. If you see either of these conditions, get the car to a mechanic for further diagnosis.

If everything is okay, wipe off the dipstick again and insert it back into its tube, making sure it’s fully seated. Close the hood and you’re done.

3. How Often to Change the Oil

Changing car oil.

Some swear by the “every 3,000 miles or every 3 months” rule, but advances in engines and oil have made that guidance obsolete. Many automakers have oil-change intervals at 7,500 or even 10,000 miles and 6 or 12 months for time.

“Your owner’s manual has more detailed information about your car than any mechanic does,” Ibbotson says. “Don’t get talked into too-often oil changes. Follow the manual and your car’s engine should stay well-lubricated and perform well.”

Over the course of two years and 30,000 miles, assuming that your oil change costs $40 a pop, you could save $240 if you get it changed every 7,500 miles vs. every 3,000 miles.

It’s not just about miles: If you don’t drive your car a lot, your oil still needs to be kept fresh. Even if you drive fewer miles each year than your automaker suggests changing the oil (say, 6,000 miles, with suggested oil-change intervals at 7,500 miles), you should still be getting that oil changed twice a year.

Why? Oil becomes less effective as it ages, and by not getting the engine warm enough, excess moisture that forms in the engine will not be removed, which can lead to shorter engine life.

4. Choosing the Right Oil for Your Car

Again, take a look at your owner’s manual. “Don’t be upsold into synthetic oil if there is no need,” Ibbotson says.

In many newer models, the weight of your car’s motor oil is printed on the cap where you add oil. “Make sure you know what’s recommended or required by your automaker before you visit your mechanic so that you can control the cost of the oil they’re putting in,” he says.

If you have a much older car, do you need special motor oil?

“Not if it’s running well,” Ibbotson says. “If you’re not sure what oil you should be using because you don’t have an owner’s manual, check with your local dealer or an online enthusiast group for your particular model,” he says.

5. Do You Need Synthetic Oil?

Conventional engine oil vs. synthetic engine oil.

“Only if your manufacturer calls for it,” Ibbotson says, “because it can cost from two to four times as much as conventional oil.”

Synthetic oil is designed to be more effective at resisting breakdown (and because of that, it lasts longer) and withstanding high temperatures.

There are situations where that resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of your engine.

“If you make lots of short trips, standard motor oil may never get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities, which means it may not be doing enough to protect your engine,” Ibbotson says.

Another consideration is your lifestyle. “If you live in a region with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material, synthetic oil is your best bet,” he says. “While synthetic generally holds up better and can serve for more miles, it is equally important to not extend oil changes beyond the time interval recommended by the manufacturer—typically six months or a year if it is a motor that is not driven many miles or on many short trips.”

Synthetic oil can also help engines that are prone to building up sludge; some Volkswagen and Toyota models have had sludge issues in the past. This residue, formed when oil breaks down, can block the flow of oil, leading to the quick death of an engine. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in these engines because it helps to reduce sludge buildup, helping to extend the engine’s lifespan.

NOLN launches list of direct-injection engines

It may have been quicker to list the engines that don’t have gas-direct injection fuel delivery, because GDIs are becoming more and more common with every model year.

The U.S. Department of Energy reported in 2018 that GDI engines passed half of the market share for new cars, and that’s expected to grow. Manufacturers are looking toward GDI — alone or in combination with port injection — to meet fuel economy standards. The engines have smaller displacements and are often turbocharged.

New motor oil standards have also risen alongside GDI engines to help protect components from the high-compression environments. As Solid Start’s Amber Kossak and Owen Heatwole covered in a series on GDI engines for NOLN, it’s important for operators to know how direct injection might cause the performance symptoms that customers describe. More importantly, it’s important to choose the right oil for those engines.

To help spot those vehicles as they pull up to a bay, we’ve started a list of GDI engines from major manufacturers. A link to the spreadsheet is at the bottom of this post.

The information so far has been pulled from BG of Tidewater (Va.), which listed models back to 2006, and CRC Industries, whose list is current as of 2017. Some newer models have been added too, like Jeep’s Wrangler and Cherokee, which introduced an available four-cylinder, direct-injection engine in 2018.

But the list isn’t complete. Know a GDI engine that needs to be added to the list? Let us know at news@NOLN.net.

Link to NOLN’s GDI engine list

The Article Was Generated and First Appeared On National Oil & Lube News

Windy Days $8 Off Any Oil Change Coupon

Print this coupon for $8 off any oil change service. Don’t blow away!

Know Your Roll: Tire Care Tips for National Tire Safety Week

Man inflating his tires with gas station air machineYour tires roll and roll and roll…until they don’t anymore. All tires wear out over time, but did you know that you could be unknowingly shortening their lifespan and compromising your safety on the road?

Just like the rest of your car, your tires need some good ol’ TLC every so often! Take a few moments to read up on our top tire care tips and show your tires some love during National Tire Safety Week 2019.

1. Check your tire pressure at least once a month.

Under- or over-inflated tires can compromise tire performance and lead to an issue that causes you to be stranded on the side of the road. To ensure your tires are properly inflated, use a tire pressure gauge to manually check inflation pressure at least once a month and before long road trips.

Stick to the recommended pressure indicated by your vehicle manufacturer, and keep in mind that you’ll need to wait a couple of hours after driving to allow your tires to cool (this will get you the most accurate pressure reading).

If temperatures are unpredictable in your area, check your tires more often, as varying temperatures can significantly affect inflation pressure. Tire pressure can increase in warm weather and decrease in cool weather–1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change.

Not sure how to check your tire pressure at home? Check out TireSafety for short how-to videos and essential tire care tips as told by lifestyle blogger @LivingWithLandyn.

2. Visually inspect your tires.

It may sound simple, but taking a good look at your tires is an integral part of tire safety and maintenance. Visually inspect your tires every few weeks and note any signs of damage or excessive wear. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, worn-out tires are three times as likely to be involved in a crash.

Not sure what you’re looking for? Read up on the different parts of tires and learn how to identify common tire wear patterns so you can spot potential problems long before they cause lasting damage. Or, visit your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care for a quick Courtesy Check. We’ll inspect your tires for free.

3. Keep your spare tire in tip-top shape.

Riding around on a flat or near-flat tire can wreak havoc on your car. When you’re visually inspecting your tires, don’t skip the spare! Check that it’s properly inflated and look for any signs of damage to ensure your spare is ready for action.

Learn how to change a flat tire so you can keep your car on the road until you can repair or replace your damaged tire.

4. Have your alignment checked every year.

Did you know? Even one pothole can damage your car’s alignment and have a negative ripple effect on your tires. Have your wheel alignment checked about once a year, or ASAP if your vehicle has a shaky steering wheel or seems to be pulling to one side.

Wheel alignment has several benefits beyond helping your tires wear evenly—it can also increase fuel efficiency and make for a smoother ride.

5. Check and correct your tire balance.

Tire alignment vs. tire balance: they’re not the same thing! Both are important for tire safety. While tire alignment refers to the angles at which your tires are situated on your car, tire balance refers to the weight distribution of tires around the car.

If you’re experiencing vibration or shaking, especially at speeds higher than 50 MPH, improper tire alignment or balancing could be the issue. For professional yet affordable tire balancing services, visit your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care. We’ll help keep your ride smooth and your tires in good condition as they wear.

6. Rotate your tires at regular intervals.

Have you noticed? Almost all of these tire safety tips are meant to help your tires wear evenly. Tire rotation is no exception! It can be confusing to remember how often to have your tires rotated, but in general, a good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles (or as recommended by your manufacturer).

Regular tire rotations can help prevent irregular or uneven wear on tires—two things that could lead to dangerous accidents or costly repairs.

7. Know when it’s time for new tires.

Even with the best maintenance and care, tires will eventually need to be replaced. Not sure if your tires are nearing the end of their lifespan? It’s easy (and cheap!) to check.

Grab a penny. Insert it between the tread of a tire with Lincoln’s head upside down. If any part of his head is hidden, your tires are good to go for a bit longer. If you can see the top of his head, your tread is worn, and it’s likely time to replace your tire(s).

Read the full instructions for this simple penny test, and be sure to check multiple spots on each of your tires to get the best idea of their overall tread depth.

Get Tire Safety Support at Firestone Complete Auto Care

Here at Firestone Complete Auto Care, we’re big supporters of National Tire Safety Week! We want to do all that we can to help you learn more about your tires and stay safe on the road. Stop by Firestone Complete Auto Care and follow @LivingWithLandyn for help with any of these tire safety tips.

The post Know Your Roll: Tire Care Tips for National Tire Safety Week appeared first on Completely Firestone.


Car Care Council Supports National Tire Safety Week

Maintaining a vehicle’s tires is essential to maximize tire life and ensure safety on the road. There is no better time to start than National Tire Safety Week in May to start checking tire pressure and condition regularly, says the Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council supports National Tire Safety Week held May 20-27 and conducted by the United States Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA). With its “Know Your Roll” theme, USTMA urges motorists, including first-time drivers, to “know their roll” and check their tires in advance of the busy summer driving season.

“We encourage motorists to check their vehicle’s tire pressure, alignment and tread before they hit the road this summer. National Tire Safety Week is the ideal time to ‘be car care aware’ and ‘know your roll,’” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Tires affect a vehicle’s ride, handling, traction and safety. Checking tire pressure often and having your tires rotated and balanced regularly are an important way to keep your vehicle running efficiently and safely.”

It only takes a few minutes to check tire condition and stay safer on the road. The non-profit Car Care Council recommends a quick four-step tire check to help avoid the aggravation of changing a flat tire on the side of the road.

  • Check that all tires, including the spare, are inflated to recommended pressure levels.
  • Check tire tread depth with a simple penny test – if you see Lincoln’s head above the tread, then it is time for new tires.
  • Check for irregular wear as uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment.
  • Check tires for cuts, bruises, bulges, bald spots or other irregularities that can lead to a flat tire.

For more information on tire safety and maintenance, visit www.ustires.org/safety.  For service interval schedules, questions to ask a technician and other helpful auto care information, view the Car Care Council’s free digital Car Care Guide at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at www.carcare.org.

The post Car Care Council Supports National Tire Safety Week appeared first on Be Car Care Aware.


Most drivers unsure about making jump to EVs, AAA survey finds

A lot of Americans still aren’t jumping toward electric vehicles, as one survey found that about 16 percent are likely to purchase one.

The survey, conducted by AAA, shows that drivers might be resistant to change. It’s the lack of knowledge about the cars’ performance, range and maintenance that are keeping them in the internal combustion world.

“Today, more than 200,000 electric cars can be found on roads across the country as almost every manufacturer sells them,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, in a press release. “But like other new vehicle technologies, Americans don’t have the full story and that could be causing the gap between interest and action.”

The overall level of interest in EVs stayed about the same when compared to previous surveys, AAA said. Those who were interested skewed younger and wanted to go electric mostly for environmental reasons. Some 67 percent of those likely buyers said they would pay more for it, too.

But the majority of people are still unsure. Fifty- nine percent of respondents to the AAA survey said that they were unsure if EVs have the necessary range for both highway and stop-and-go, urban driving.

About the same percentage of respondents had concerns about finding places to charge the cars.

Roughly the same number of people felt that most cars will be electric in 10 years (42 percent) as those who didn’t think that would happen (45 percent).

Still, fewer people held those concerns in AAA’s 2019 survey than in 2018. The percentage of respondents at odds with EV purchase price, battery repair or replacement, driving range and charging stations fell when compared to the previous year.

The Article Was Generated and First Appeared On National Oil & Lube News