Repairing Your Car

Driving An Older Car To Save Money? Oil Change Information You Need To Know

Driving an older car has become something of a status symbol for frugal-minded Americans. In fact, a recent study of people who have amassed more than a million dollar net worth proves that opting to drive an older vehicle, instead of a more costly new one, can factor into your ability to build financial wealth.

But opting to drive an older car can require you to pay more attention to maintenance than you might have to if driving a new model with computerized system checks. Regular maintenance is necessary to reduce wear on the engine and its moving parts and ensure the vehicle will continue to be dependable as the miles keep racking up on the odometer.

If you are proudly driving an older car as part of your long-term plan to build financial security, here is what you need to know about oil changes. 

Determining the manufacturer's recommended schedule for oil changes

While the base timeline for scheduling an oil change should always begin with the recommendations listed in the owner's manual for the vehicle, this can create a couple of problems for those who drive an older vehicle. 

If the vehicle was already a pre-owned car when you purchased it, the owner's manual may not have been included in the sale. Drivers of older vehicles who do not have this documentation can access it by going to the manufacturer's website, selecting support, and then searching for the link for past owner's manuals.

Deciding if more frequent oil changes are needed

Even with access to the owner's manual and the oil change recommendations listed within, older vehicle owners may still need to schedule oil changes more frequently than the manufacturer suggests. Good ways to determine whether a tighter oil change schedule is needed include: 

  • when the oil level drops or the color of the oil becomes dark 
  • when the oil develops a thick or somewhat gritty feel when rubbed between your fingers
  • when an excessive amount of miles have been driven since the engine was last serviced
  • when the engine noises become more noticeable while driving

Taking time to open the hood, remove the dipstick, and visibly check the oil in your car's engine each week is the best practice for observing oil quality and deciding whether it needs to be changed or whether the car needs to be evaluated by a service technician at a place like Furgersons Garage

Detecting signs of a more serious engine problem 

Motor oil is the lifeblood of the car's engine, no matter whether a brand new model or one with a couple of decades of service already behind it. In addition to using the above guide to help determine when your older car should get an oil change, owners will also need to be alert for signs of a more serious engine problem. 

In a car that is too old to provide computerized clues to mechanical issues as they occur, owners will need to be vigilant for other signs. Some of the ones to watch for include: 

  • low or falling oil pressure - which can signify a failing oil pump, oil sending unit, problems with the oil pressure relief valve, or wear issues on the crankshaft or engine bearings
  • drips or oil stains on surfaces where the vehicle has been parked for a few hours or overnight - this can be caused by an oil filter that is not properly seated, failed gaskets and hoses, or a hole in the oil pan
  • sudden blue or dark smoke when starting the car or revving the engine - often a sign of serious engine wear or damage that will be costly to address

To learn more about the importance of regular oil changes to keep your older car operating reliably, take time to discuss your concerns with a certified professional at a trusted auto service center in your area.