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10 Signs Your Car Needs an Oil Change and Tune-up

September 25, 2017 | Periodic Maintenance Info

Engine oil is like the blood of every car. The engine needs oil to lubricate its moving components and keep them operating smoothly. In fact, engines of all kinds need oil in order to function. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a motorcycle, generator, or even a lawnmower. If it’s got an engine, then it needs to be lubricated with oil. An engine is filled with parts that are constantly moving and rubbing together. This constant rubbing creates heat from all the friction. You need oil to flow through these moving parts so that it can absorb the heat and prevent overheating.

The Top 10 Signs

There are so many different signs that will show up which indicate that your vehicle needs an oil change and possibly a tune-up. When you take your vehicle in for an oil change, the service person will usually inspect your vehicle and then give you additional recommendations on what they think needs to be done. However, you shouldn’t always depend on them to do this accurately because they might not always catch every issue. That is why you need to pay attention to the signs which indicate that you need a tune-up of some kind.

Below are the top 10 signs of your car needing an oil change and/or a tune-up.

  1. Car Stalling – If you’re driving and your vehicle begins to stall, then you could have a big or small problem. A small problem would be if you have a clogged fuel filter or bad spark plugs. Something like this can be replaced with a simple tune-up.
  2. Difficulty Starting Engine – If you notice that you’re consistently having problems turning on your engine, then you might need to replace your battery. You may notice the engine hesitating before it starts up while the lights on the dashboard dim a bit. Clearly, you need a tune-up that involves a new battery.
  3. Warning Lights – The computers and sensors in vehicles today make it easier for them to detect a problem early on before it gets worse. If you notice an indicator light illuminating on your dashboard, use your owner’s manual to see what that light means. Warning lights will warn you about all kinds of problems such as low battery, taillight burned out, transmission malfunction, and so on. However, if you need an oil change, then you will see the oil change light illuminate. In some cars, it is the check engine light.
  4. Vibration on Flat Surfaces – If you notice your car vibrating on flat surfaces or roads, there could be many different reasons for this. Sometimes, though, you might just need to balance your tires or possibly get new ones if the treads are worn. There could be low air pressure in your tires or a faulty universal joint as well.
  5. Overheating – If you don’t have enough oil in your engine or if the oil hasn’t been changed in a while, then it won’t do as good a job of lubricating the engine’s components. This will cause the engine to heat up more and eventually overheat. An oil change will fix this problem.
  6. Loud NoisesEngine oil gets old and worn after a while. That is why car manufacturers recommend you change your oil every 5,000 miles or so. If you have old oil in your vehicle, then it is likely getting dirtier and thicker. This will make it harder for the oil to lubricate your engine’s components. As a result, your engine will begin making loud noises because of the lubrication failure. Get an oil change right away.
  7. Oil Smell – If the interior cabin of your vehicle is starting to smell like oil, then you know you have some problem with your oil. It usually means there is an oil leak and that it is burning due to an overheated engine. You’ll want to fix that overheating problem and then change your oil right afterward.
  8. Exhaust Smoke – If you live in a cold environment then you are used to seeing vapor emitting from the tailpipe of your vehicle. However, if you actually start seeing smoke come out of it, then you probably have an oil leak. The smoke is the result of less oil being in your engine to lubricate its parts, due to the leak. So, get the leak fixed and the oil replaced.
  9. Dark Oil – If you’ve ever seen clean oil before, it kind of has a bright amber color to it. But when oil becomes old and dirty from the build-up of residue particles in the engine, then it becomes a much darker color. You should make it a habit of sticking a dipstick into the oil of your engine and then removing it. The color that gets onto the stick is the color of the oil. If it’s dark, then you need to change your oil.
  10. Shifting Hesitation – If you are driving an automatic vehicle, then you should have no problems with shifting between gears. But if there is hesitation or lag when you shift gears, it could mean that you need new transmission fluid or filters. Of course, it could mean a worse problem too. That is why taking your car in for a tune-up will at least detect what the problem is.

Read also: Car Thermostat Functions, Failure Symptoms and Replacement Cost

What does a tune-up involve?

We’ve all heard the term “tune-up” as it relates to vehicles. You might think a tune-up means getting an oil change and having your windshield washed. But in actuality, there is a lot more to a tune-up than that. A tune-up means you are having various components and parts of your vehicle inspected and replaced if they are worn out. Some of these areas include your distributor cap, fuel filter, PCV valve, air filter, spark plugs, brakes, hoses, belts, and wires. The service person will also check your idle speed, idle mixture, sensors, and ignition timing. If any of these areas are not normal, they will be adjusted appropriately.

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