Between more efficient engines that don’t use oil as quickly and the best oil filters that efficiently keep it clean, it is easy to forget about having your oil changed in a timely fashion. However, that can be a costly mistake. Engine oil cannot perform its job properly when the level is insufficient or the lubricant gets old and dirty. There are a number of ways to tell that you might need an oil change. Pay attention to these signs and take action as soon as possible to avoid or minimize future damage. 

1. Mileage

An oil change is recommended every 10,000 miles or so. Many people use this as the sole gauge as to when to replace their oil. However, this may not be adequate. A number of other factors, such as how the car is driven, the quality of the motor oil, and the car’s age, can also make a difference. 

2. Warning Lights

Your car may actually tell you that you are in need of an oil change in the form of warning lights. When there is not enough oil in the system, you will see the oil light come on, meaning that you need a change right away. The check engine light indicates a more serious situation in which the lack of lubrication may be putting your car may be at risk of engine damage. 

3. Oil Appearance

One of the best way to know whether you need an oil change is to pull out the dipstick and assess the appearance of the oil. If it is below the minimum level indicated on the dipstick, is dark-colored and dirty or milky-looking in appearance, or if it contains globs or small pieces of debris, you should have it changed right away. 

4. Strange Engine Noises

These may include rumbling or knocking. They indicate that parts of your engine are rubbing against each other due to the lack of oil. This requires immediate attention as you may have already sustained extensive engine damage. 

5. Smoke From the Exhaust Pipe

The normal appearance of car exhaust is a barely visible translucent vapor. Frankly visible smoke is abnormal and could be an indicator of an oil leak or faulty engine parts. You should have your engine checked right away. 

6. Oil Smell

A smell of oil, exhaust fumes, or gasoline inside the vehicle is cause to schedule immediate maintenance. It could signify that the vehicle is overheating, or it could be a sign of an oil leak. 

7. Fluid Leaks

You may notice that your oil level is always mysteriously low, or you may find puddles underneath the vehicle or on parts of the engine where it doesn’t belong. A mechanic may be able to find and fix the leak. High-mileage motor oil may also help with the problem. 
If you notice any of these signs, have your oil changed right away. You can check for oil change specials online to find the best deal. In some cases, an oil change alone may not be enough to address the issue, and you may need an engine check-up as well.