Oil is the lifeblood of your car. It keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. Most owner's manuals suggest that you change your oil and oil filter every 7,500 miles (12,070 kilometers). Oil change specialists suggest every 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) or three months. The fact is, most of us do a lot of heavy driving during the summer when an engine is more likely to overheat. So at least check your oil before you head out on that road trip with the family.
To check your oil, let your car run for a few minutes, then park it on a level surface and shut off the engine. Open the hood and locate the oil dipstick. You're looking for two things here: the level of oil and how the oil looks. If you're low on oil, you can either add another quart or simply change the oil completely. The oil should look brownish yellow and clean on the stick. If the oil is a dark color or there's a lot of dirt and grime in it, then you definitely need an oil change and oil filter replacement.
Wait, didn't you do a lot of these things when you got your car ready for colder weather? As a matter of fact, yes. On the next page, we'll look at some winter maintenance you should undo for summer.
RECYCLE THAT OIL!
If you change your own oil and oil filter, don't just throw the old oil and used filter in the garbage or dump the oil down the sewer drain. It can pollute local streams or end up in the groundwater. Place the oil in a recyclable plastic container like an empty two-liter soda bottle. Place the oil filter over a plastic pan or tray and let it drain for 12 hours. Add that oil to the two-liter bottle, put the used filter in a plastic bag and take everything to your nearest designated recycling center. Many oil change places and auto parts stores accept used oil and filters.