My Car’s Oil is Dirty! Should I Change It?

When to Change Motor Oil

Diligent vehicle owners regularly inspect their motor oil because they know the dangers of using bad motor oil. But is it true that the oil should be changed if it’s dark and dirty? The pros at Evan’s Auto Care in Cincinnati, Ohio are here to explain what you need to know about oil and its lifespan.

Why Dirty Oil is Bad

Old, dirty oil doesn’t lubricate effectively, which means the engine is at risk of overheating and sustaining damage. It also fails to collect any contaminants, leaving them to build up on components. Those problems can add up to poor performance and efficiency for your vehicle. That leads many vehicle owners to believe that dark, dirty oil is bad and should be immediately changed, but is that truly the case?

What Dirt Means

In truth, you need more context than just the appearance of the motor oil to decide if it needs to be changed. That’s because dirty oil may still be doing its job. Oil takes on a dark appearance once it collects contaminants inside the engine. That means it has done what it’s supposed to! Whether or not it can continue to lubricate and protect your engine depends on a few other factors:

  1. When were the oil and filter last changed?
  2. Depending on your vehicle make and model, you may be able to go up to six months between oil changes. If you just changed your oil and filter recently, a dark color shouldn’t be concerning. Consult your owner’s manual for more information.

  3. Is the level good?
  4. It is a concern if your engine burns up motor oil quickly. If you notice that the level has dropped significantly after a professional oil change, add more and ask an expert to take a look. Sometimes oil needs time to circulate through the engine and level off. Other times, it means the engine has a consumption problem.

  5. What are your driving conditions?
  6. Did you just take your vehicle for a long journey or off-road adventure? That might be the reason your oil has turned darker — it’s doing its job of suspending dirt and other contaminants!

  7. Is your car performing well?
  8. Anytime you notice a change in your vehicle’s normal performance is a good time to bring in an expert. If you suspect that the engine is struggling, let someone perform a full inspection. An oil change might just be part of the service your car needs to run better.

Oil should be changed when it has reached the end of its lifespan and is no longer providing the necessary benefits for your vehicle. A professional at Evan’s Auto Care in Cincinnati, Ohio can help you track your oil’s lifespan to ensure you get the most out of it between services. You can also consult your owner’s manual to find your manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. We hope this helps you better understand what to do about dirty oil in your car!

Written by Evan Brodof

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