The truth about oil changes

Over the years there have been a lot of repeatedly similar questions about basic vehicle maintenance.  In most cases, the questions are based on how often to get an oil change and what the best engine oil to use is.

Although there are variances of opinions about oil changes, the truth is said to be established when accurate research and recommendations are put to practical use.  We hope this article will help clear up any confusion when it comes to the regular maintenance of your vehicle.

When to check your engine oil levels and how to know if it needs to be changed

It is always best advised to keep a close eye on the oil level of your car, as well as when any of the dash lights come on to warn you of a potential issue.  Making this a regular habit can save you tons of money and stress!

  • If you have an older vehicle, or one that doesn’t inform you that the oil levels are low on your dash lights or computer, you need to manually check your oil every few months.  It’s always a good idea to refer to your vehicle owner manual about proper engine maintenance. If you are planning to take a long trip or you drive a lot of miles each month, you may need to check it more often.

  • When checking your oil, make note of the color and consistency of the oil on the dipstick. This is very important. It should be brown or black. If it is dark black and thick, the oil may be contaminated.  Sometimes certain additives may cause the oil to be dark. When the oil is a light creamy color combined with a frothy or milky consistency, this may be a case of coolant or water contamination and should be checked by your mechanic as soon as possible.  If the oil level is close to the second dot on your dipstick and is a golden color, you don’t need to change your oil. If the oil level only reaches to the first dot, it is time to add or change the oil.

  • Newer vehicles will have a “check oil level” or “Engine maintenance” light come on, which are usually very reliable.

  • Take cognizance of any leak. If you find an oil leak or a leak of any kind, bring your vehicle to a reliable auto repair shop mechanic as soon as possible.  Waiting too long my ruin your engine and cost you thousands of dollars!

How often does my oil need to be changed?

While there are contrasting opinions about how often to change motor oil, it is important to know that irrespective of the 3,000 mile/ every 3 month period as suggested by many dealerships and auto repair shops, your vehicle manual has more detailed information about the correct oil change frequency. If you have an older or high mileage vehicle, it is usually best to get oil changes more frequently. Newer vehicles are being designed to use engine oil anywhere from 4,000 to 7,000 miles.  There are even engine oil products that allow you to only need an oil change once per year! Do not be pressured to have oil changes too often if your manual suggest something different.

What’s the right type of oil for my vehicle?

This is another common question about oil change service. The best way to know what motor oil you should use is to refer to the vehicle manual.   However, just because your manual may suggest a particular type of oil does not mean you can’t use other special types of oil such as high mileage oil products.  At Arrow Automotive Service we have fleet and individual customers who prefer to use high mileage oil.  This means they may only need oil changes 1-3 times per year.  Consult with your local auto repair mechanic about your vehicle’s specific maintenance needs.

Conclusively, oil change service should not be taken with levity. Just ensure you follow your manual and build a relationship with a reliable and honest mechanic to service your vehicle.  

If you have any questions about service or repair for your vehicle, please contact us so we can assist you as soon as possible.  Email questions to:  or call us to schedule an appointment today! (626) 334-7801

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(626) 334-7801

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