Why Should I Get an Oil Change Before Winter?
Staying up-to-date on your vehicle’s essential maintenance needs is vital any time of the year, especially during the fall and winter months. When preparing your vehicle, getting an oil change before temperatures drastically drop is one of the most important maintenance tasks you should do. Even if you are planning on storing your vehicle throughout the cold weather of the winter months, getting an oil change can help ensure your vehicle will be running smoothly come the spring.
But, before you change your car’s oil, it’s essential to understand the importance of getting a winter oil change and why it should be one of your first priorities this season.
What Does Oil Do in My Car and How Often Should I Change It?
The oil in your engine is one of the most essential fluids you have in your vehicle. While other fluids such as coolant or antifreeze can help avoid potential issues such as overheating, engine oil (also referred to as motor oil) is used primarily to lubricate the different moving components within your car’s engine. Simply put, without oil, your car, truck, or SUV’s engine would be at risk of destroying itself from the inside.
Some engine oils will also contain additives such as detergents that help keep the various parts of your engine clean too. These additives clean and neutralize oil impurities that could normally cause deposits on vital engine parts, also known as oil sludge.
As it is an essential fluid, most cars need an oil change every 3,000 to 10,000 miles. However, various makes/models will have different requirements, so it is best to check with your owner’s manual for more information on your vehicle’s recommended schedule.
What Happens If I Don’t Change My Car’s Oil?
Oil changes are considered an essential car maintenance task as it helps ensure clean oil is flowing around your engine, helping to remain healthier for longer. Failing to change your oil can result in poorer performance while driving, car parts overheating, and irreversible damage to your engine. Lack of oil can also result in increased fuel consumption, meaning you’ll be stuck making more frequent trips to the gas station.
What Kind of Engine Oil Should I Use?
While there are many different types of oil available, it’s essential to use the correct type of oil for your car’s fuel type. Specifically, you should use S-type oil if you have a gasoline engine, while you should primarily use C-type oil for diesel engines. If you are unsure of the type of fuel your car needs, your owner’s manual can help you. You can also visit a certified repair facility or ASE Certified mechanic to learn more about your vehicle’s recommended type of oil.
However, while it’s essential to use the correct oil for your car, truck, or SUV’s fuel type, you do have some options to choose from when selecting engine oil, such as:
- Oil Type
- Oil Quality
- Viscosity Grade
Different types of engine oil are suited for different needs and preferences. The most notable are:
- Synthetic Oil—the most expensive type of oil available, synthetic oils are artificial and specially formulated to maximize engine performance.
- Mineral Oil—not to be mistaken for skin-care products, this oil is the most affordable option and is refined from crude oil for use in car engines.
- Blended oil—a mix of mineral and synthetic oil, blending oil is designed to be cheaper than fully synthetic oil while having some of the same benefits.
Paying extra for synthetic oil is advisable for older vehicles and high-mileage cars. However, always reference your owner’s manual when deciding which option to go with for your next oil change.
High-quality oil is said to maximize performance and prolong your engine’s life as much as possible. The American Petroleum Institute (API) offers certification to oils meeting grades set by car and lubricant manufacturers. For example, oil with the Starburst mark meets the latest International Lubricant Specification Advisory Committee (ILSAC) standard. These oils will help protect your engine while improving your overall fuel economy and protecting your emissions system. Similarly, the Shield mark will also indicate oils that meet the current ILSAC standards for engine protection and fuel economy. However, this mark can only be applied to oils that have a specific viscosity grade.
Simply put, the viscosity grade of your engine’s oil will indicate how ‘thick’ or ‘thin’ the oil will be. In colder weather, such as in the midwest or the northeast, having a thinner oil (one with a low viscosity grade) will help ensure your vehicle runs more smoothly.
For more information about the type of viscosity grades suitable for your vehicle, refer to your owner’s manual.
How to Check Your Oil in 3 Easy Steps
While following your recommended oil change schedule is essential for any vehicle, there are instances where you may need an oil change sooner than anticipated. Low oil levels or overly dirty oil can both have negative impacts on how well your car runs.
To help you check your vehicle’s oil, follow these 3 simple steps.
- Step 1: Run the car engine for a few minutes and then turn it off.
- Step 2: Open up the hood and locate the oil dipstick (refer to your owner’s manual if you are unsure where your oil dipstick is).
- Step 3: Remove the oil dipstick and check the oil. If the oil level is low, it is time to replace the oil. Newer oil will be an amber color, while dirty engine oil will appear as a dark, thick liquid. You may also notice debris visible in the oil. Oil with more of a ‘cream’ color and a milky/frothy texture should also be noted, as this can indicate that the oil is contaminated with coolant and/or water.
If you notice that your engine oil is low or dirty, it’s essential to change it as soon as possible. Failing to do so could lead to potential engine issues and costly repair bills in the future.
Protect Your Vehicle This Winter with Endurance
Save on your car’s next oil change and other essential maintenance needs with the help of an EnduranceAdvantage™ breakdown protection plan. Along with providing your car with comprehensive breakdown protection outside of a typical auto insurance policy, each EnduranceAdvantage plan also comes with up to $3,500 in regular maintenance benefits. That means you can get essential services such as up to 3 oil and filter changes, alignment checks, tire rotations, and more included — at no additional cost to you.
Additionally, Endurance customers will also receive 1 year of Elite Benefits with the purchase of any auto protection plan and a small activation fee. That means you can get extra benefits like key fob replacement, tire repair/replacements, 24/7 roadside assistance, and other great perks for even more coverage and savings.
To learn more about any Endurance protection plan, you can request a free, no-obligation quote or call 866.918.1438 to speak directly with a representative. You can also find other informative articles on various topics such as expert auto advice, DIY maintenance tips, make/model comparisons, and more by visiting the Learning Center.
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Chris has been covering the automotive industry and topics ranging from road trips to driverless car technology for around 10 years. His own preference is for retro 4x4s that will stand up to a muddy field in the country.