How Do I Know It’s Time for an Oil Change?

car oil change

As a driver in Fresno, California, improving your vehicle’s lifespan is undoubtedly one of your top priorities. In-depth maintenance and repair services are vital for keeping your car on the road for as long as possible. Still, auto maintenance doesn’t always have to be time-consuming and expensive. One of the most crucial steps you can take to ensure your vehicle stays in good shape indefinitely is simply getting regular oil changes.

The trick to saving as much as possible on oil changes while ensuring your car has enough clean oil to do its job is to create a rock-solid oil change schedule. To do that, you’ll need to go beyond the “standard” oil change advice and take your vehicle’s needs into account. Here, you’ll find Goodguys Tire & Auto Repair’s professional advice on oil change scheduling.

Build an Oil Change Schedule That’s Right for You

If you’ve done even the smallest amount of research on oil changes, you’ve probably heard that you need oil changes every 3,000 miles or three months. This automotive advice certainly contains a kernel of truth—it’s a solid rule of thumb and should give you a good place to start while setting up your own oil change schedule. Still, you’ll need to adjust it based on:

The Age of Your Car

Do you drive a new (or newish) vehicle? If so, we’ve got good news—you might not need oil changes as often as you think. That is the case because newer engine designs are better at getting the most out of motor oil. On the other hand, accumulated metal fillings and debris can reduce older cars’ ability to use oil. In response, you’ll need to schedule oil changes more frequently.

Your Driving Habits

Believe it or not, you might be a “severe” driver—but this isn’t something you need to panic about. This term describes habits that put extra strain on your car, such as driving on dirt roads or long-distance driving at speeds under 50 miles per hour. If you’re a severe driver, you can make up for it by giving your car oil changes at double the usual rate.

The Temperatures You Drive In

You’re probably already aware of this if you live in Fresno, but this part of the country can get pretty hot during the summer months. That can easily affect your vehicle’s inner workings—including the rate at which it needs oil changes. (And while cold temperatures are less of a concern in this area, driving in severe winter weather can also impact your oil usage.)

The Oil You Use

When you stop by your local Goodguys shop for oil change service, you’ll have an important decision to make—namely, whether you’d prefer conventional or synthetic oil. The differences between these oil varieties might seem negligible, but that’s not true in practice. Conventional oil is usually less expensive at the time of purchase, but you’ll need to get oil changes more often with this oil type. Conversely, synthetic oil costs more but needs replacement less regularly.

Now that you’ve taken these factors into consideration, it’s time to figure out your oil change schedule. First, use the 3,000-mile/three-month standard as your starting point. From there, make adjustments based on your car’s age, how you drive, and so on. And if you need some advice while creating your oil change schedule, reach out to the team at Goodguys for help!

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Don’t Ignore These Red Flags

When you have a custom oil change schedule ready to go, you’ll usually be able to avoid thinking about your car’s oil needs between milestones. However, the emphasis here is on “usually”—no matter how careful you are, your vehicle can still run into oil-related problems when you least expect it. These telltale signs of oil trouble can indicate you need an oil change ahead of schedule:

  • Unusual vibrations. If your car is vibrating and you don’t know why, dirty oil may be to blame. This symptom can be especially prominent when you’re idling.
  • Exhaust smoke. Smoke from your car’s exhaust pipe may result from aged motor oil.
  • Strange noises coming from your engine. Believe it or not, your oil can change the sound of your engine. If your oil is dirty, your engine might make a “ticking” noise when it starts up. Also, thin oil can contribute to “knocking” sounds from your engine.
  • Dashboard warning lights. Your “check engine” light can be activated by almost any issue with your car, including problems with your oil. Since you won’t be able to find out more on your own, visit Goodguys for service when this light turns on.
  • A low oil level. Finally, if your car doesn’t have enough oil to function, you need an oil change ASAP. While needing an oil change sooner than expected can be frustrating, the risk of severe consequences from driving a car without sufficient oil isn’t worth it.

man checking his motor oil level

Understand How to Check Your Oil

Your motor oil can get dangerously low between changes—even if you’ve been closely following your oil change service schedule. Because of that, it’s a good idea to know how to perform an oil check. This task might seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but it’s not challenging at all.

To determine what method you’ll use to check your oil, consider the age of your vehicle. If you drive a relatively new car, it might have a dedicated monitoring system to watch its own oil levels. But if you drive an older vehicle, you’ll likely have to handle your oil checks manually.

When you’re ready to do a manual oil check, park your car and let it cool down for a few minutes before you turn it off. Then, find your dipstick under the vehicle’s hood in its oil reservoir. Wipe off any leftover oil on the dipstick, put it in the reservoir again, and pull it back out to measure your current oil level. You should be good to go if this level is between two markings or a cross-hatched area on the dipstick. If it’s lower than that, set up an oil change appointment at Goodguys.

Know Where to Get an Oil Change Service

Oil changes aren’t the most heavy-duty auto maintenance tasks in the industry, but it still makes sense to get them taken care of the right way. Since there are countless oil change service providers in Fresno, you’ll need to know what to look for when seeking a garage for this service.

Before your next oil change, look for a shop that offers:

  • Trustworthy, reliable mechanics. Oil changes are a relatively simple task by auto maintenance standards, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy for the average person to handle. Because of that, you’ll want to make sure your garage employs qualified mechanics. You can ensure that’s the case by prioritizing businesses that advertise their ASE-certified technicians.
  • Affordable pricing and other deals. Oil change pricing is a balancing act. While you obviously want to get the best rates available, that shouldn’t come at the expense of losing out on a full-service oil change. Furthermore, your garage of choice should offer additional money-saving opportunities, like financing options and online coupons.
  • Straightforward scheduling. These days, it’s easier than ever to feel overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life. With that in mind, finding an auto shop that can provide convenient online scheduling and has multiple locations in the area is crucial.

If you live in or around Fresno, Goodguys Tire & Auto Repair is the obvious choice for oil changes and any other auto service you might need. We can deliver all these perks and more, so don’t hesitate to schedule your next oil change with us today!

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