Car ownership comes with a lot of responsibility. In addition to the financial obligations, you must maintain your vehicle regularly for optimal performance. Routine maintenance is necessary to help safeguard against breakdowns, mechanical damage and possible accidents.
Motor oil, which has evolved over the years, is vital to the life of the engine because it reduces the friction and keeps it running smoothly. It also keeps the engine clean by preventing buildup, and helps keep it from overheating. Checking your oil is an easy DIY task that should be performed about once or twice a month. Here is a step-by-step guide for beginners or those who need to brush up on checking their oil.
- Refer to your owner's manual for recommendations on how often to check your oil for your specific vehicle. Keep the manual handy so you can refer to it during the oil change if needed. It may help to put a reminder in your calendar or get into a rountine of checking it after you fill up your gas tank every other week.
- Before you begin, park your car on a flat level surface and shut off the engine. Set the parking brake to be safe and let the engine cool before checking.
- With the engine off, open the hood and find the dipstick. (You can refer to the owner's manual if you aren't sure what it looks like). Pull the dipstick all the way out, releasing any holds. Use a clean rag to wipe the dipstick to get a good reading. Clean oil is a clear or golden color, whereas dirty engine oil is black or brown. If the oil looks milky, it could be contaminated with coolant and should be checked by an expert AAA mechanic. If you are in need of an oil change or you're concerned about the color, bring your car to AAA Car Care Center for service.
- Insert the dipstick back into the opening and push it firmly back in. This time as you pull it out, you will be reading the oil level. The dipstick has notched markings on it indicating an acceptable oil level. If the level is too low, you will need to add more of the correct motor oil. Check your manual for the recommeded oil or bring your car to AAA Car Care Center for assistance.
- Return the dipstick to its holder after you check the oil. If everything looks good, you're done. If you have concerns about the oil such as metal particles floating in the oil, it could mean there is internal engine damage and you need to bring your car in for diagnosis.
Keep an eye on your driveway or where you park your car. If you notice oil pooling under your car, you may have a leak that needs to be fixed. Don't ignore warning signs. Be proactive about your car's maintenance needs. Set up regular appointments at your local AAA Car Care Center and experience complete car car today!