10 Common Signs You Need an Oil Change

Getting your oil changed is among the most important things you can do to maintain your vehicle. Most people know they should change their oil every few months, but sometimes it is difficult to remember the best time.

To ensure that your vehicle runs smoothly, you should keep an eye out for these ten common signs that your oil needs to be changed.

1. Your Car’s Mileage

Depending on your vehicle and type of oil, you should change your oil every 5,000 to 10,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first.

If you have a high-mileage vehicle, you should check your owner’s manual to see when you should get an oil change. Your car’s mileage is vital for tracking how often you should get your oil changed; its maintenance schedule tells you much about what to expect when you begin driving.

If you are ever unsure when you should be changing your oil, you can ask a knowledgeable mechanic for some advice.

2. Look for the Low Oil Light

As mentioned, there are a few different ways you can get a warning when your oil needs changing. One way is through the low oil light which can come on when your oil is too low, or the oil has clogged the lifters.

When your car’s engine starts to run low on oil, it may start to emit a grinding noise, which may give you an indication that it is time for an oil change as well.

3. Check Your Car’s Dipstick

Another way to see when you need an oil change is to check your oil using a dipstick regularly. You can check the dipstick by opening the hood and looking down at the oil level on the stick. If your oil is dark or has debris, your car’s oil should be changed as soon as possible.

Oil should be between lower and upper marks on the dipstick. It is time to get an oil change if it is above the lower mark.

4. Your Engine Is Making Strange Noises

Engine rumbling is another sign that your oil needs changing. If your car seems to be making a loud rumbling noise, it is an obvious sign that something is wrong, and you should get it looked at immediately.

You can check engine rumbling by parking your car on a flat surface such as asphalt or concrete. Once you hear a rumbling noise, you should look under the hood to see if your engine has an oil leak.

If you discover a leaky oil sump gasket, you should get your vehicle serviced immediately.

5. You Had to Add Oil Between Changes

If you find you are topping up your oil or changing it more regularly than it’s due, then it may need to be checked by a mechanic. Oil should last around 12 months, so if you add oil every few weeks, it’s clear that something could be wrong.

As well as topping up, it could also be a sign of an internal oil leak, which could cause your engine to overheat. You can look for signs of overheating as a good indication, provided that you have also topped up your water, which can cause an overheating engine.

6. Is There Smoke Coming From Your Exhaust Pipe?

If you notice the smoke coming from the exhaust looks different to normal, you should get it looked at by a mechanic as soon as possible. It could be a sign of internal engine damage.

Light-coloured smoke from your tailpipe usually means too much oil in the combustion chamber and not enough being distributed to lubricate the engine parts.

Dark smoke typically indicates too little oil in the chamber or dirty oil that isn’t properly filtered and needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.

7. Your Car Smells Like Petrol

The smell of petrol in your car may indicate too much pressure in the crankcase due to overflowing or using the wrong type of oil. This causes the oil to burn off faster than usual, resulting in a strong petrol odour.

Either way, it’s best to get this checked out by a professional as soon as possible, as continuing to drive with this condition could cause severe damage to your engine.

8. Your “Check Engine” Light Is on

While this could mean many things, one reason might be that sensors are picking up debris in the engine due to dirty or old oil.

If this is the case, you’ll want to get an oil change as soon as possible before any further damage is done. If you are unsure, never leave it. If the light is on, there’s likely a problem, and you should get it checked out as soon as possible.

9. Excessive Idling or Short Trips

Most of your driving consists of short trips under 10 miles or excessive idling. In that case, the engine parts and oils cannot promptly reach their optimal operating temperatures. Therefore, moisture can accumulate in the crankcase, diluting the oils and causing corrosion.

It is often recommended that drivers take more extended trips at least once a week (more than 20 minutes) to ensure that their cars operate at optimal temperatures and that all systems are functioning properly. The best way to prevent overheating is to let your car idle for 15–20 minutes before shutting off so everything has a chance to warm up properly.

10. Your Car Just Isn’t Running Like It Used to

Typically, if none of the other signs is apparent, but something doesn’t feel right, it might be time for an oil change to err on the side of caution. Better safe than sorry!

At least if it isn’t due to an oil change being needed, it might highlight any underlying issues your car may be displaying and get these fixed before they have the chance to cause further damage.


These are just some signs that might indicate you need an oil change sooner rather than later. Paying attention to how well your car is running and being diligent about changes will help keep your vehicle healthy and running smoothly for years down the road!

Motor oil is one of the most important fluids in your vehicle, as it helps keep its moving parts well-lubricated and running smoothly. However, unlike other liquids in your car, oil is viscous, and it takes a long time for the oil to reach all parts of your engine.

Learning how to tell if your engine needs new oil can go a long way toward helping you avoid common engine problems, including costly repairs. Discover these important clues that indicate that your engine requires new oil, and learn what you can do to reduce the frequency with which you need to change your oil.