You probably know that changing the oil in your car on a regular basis is vital to keeping the engine running smoothly. However, you may not remember the last time that you had it changed, and you may have lost the sticker or paperwork that listed the date when the change was done. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways that you can determine the age and condition of your car's oil, which can tell you whether or not it needs to be changed.
1. Look at the Color and Consistency of the Oil on the Dipstick
One way you can tell the age and condition of your oil is by looking at its color and consistency. You can do this by looking at the oil residue on your car's dipstick. However, to get the most accurate reading, pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, and then reinsert it.
After you have reinserted the dipstick, pull it out, and look at the oil on it. If your oil is in good condition, it should have a caramel brown color. Also, the oil should be thin enough that you can see the markings on the dipstick through the coating.
However, if your oil is old, it will turn dark brown or even black. Once it has turned one of these colors, the consistency will probably be so thick that you cannot see through the oil at all. If the oil appears dark and thick, it is probably not properly lubricating your engine and needs to be changed as soon as possible.
2. Take a Whiff to See How the Oil Smells
While you have the dipstick out, you can use the opportunity to check for another sign that your oil desperately needs changing. While holding the dipstick an inch or two away from your nose, breathe deeply so you can see how it smells.
Because they are both petroleum products, oil normally smells like a little like gasoline but with a deeper, richer odor. However, if the oil has a strong, burnt odor to it, it is old and probably has been burned by the heat of your car's engine. If this is the case, it should be changed promptly.
If you cannot remember the last time you had your car's oil changed, and you notice the above signs when you examine it, it is past time to have the job done. Contact an oil change service to make an appointment to have both your oil and oil filter changed.