Why is Checking my Engine Oil Level Important?

It would seem that checking the oil level in your car’s engine should be auto maintenance 101. However, on a weekly basis we find vehicles that have no oil on the engine oil dipstick. This is a sign that the oil level is being neglected. To put it bluntly, a lack of oil will cause engine damage or complete engine destruction.

We recently had a 2015 vehicle that was towed in to our shop for a no-start condition. We discovered that the timing chain had failed, causing the engine to not start. When the engine oil was drained out, there were 2 quarts of oil in the engine. It holds 5 quarts when full. We also found that there was piston/valve contact resulting in an engine that was destroyed. All of this could have been prevented had the oil level been checked routinely.

It is our recommendation that the engine oil level be checked monthly. A comment that we hear frequently when talking with a client about oil consumption is, “But I should be OK, my oil light was not on yet”. The oil light on your dashboard is there to let you know the engine has low oil pressure. In other words, the oil level needs to be REALLY low for this light to come on. You DO NOT want to wait for the oil light to come on as a signal to check the oil level.

Another question we hear a lot is why does my car use oil? Yes, we are seeing a lot of engines that consume oil without any visible signs of smoking. Since about the year 2010, most automotive manufacturers have moved to a different type of fuel injection system known as GDI, or Gasoline Direct Injection. While GDI engines will perform better and get better gas mileage than their standard fuel injected counterparts, a major downside to GDI is the build up of carbon. GDI engines are prone to carbon buildup on the valves and piston rings. This condition will allow oil to pass into the combustion chamber where it is slowly burned off, hence why there may not be any visible leakage.

 If you go to your owner’s manual, you can see the manufacturer’s recommendation for a normal oil change interval. Keep in mind that most driving habits do not fall under the “normal” category, most will fall under the “severe” category. Here at Good’s Auto Service, we recommend changing the engine oil every 5,000 miles or 5 months.

So, how do I avoid costly engine replacement? Check the engine oil level monthly and stick to timely engine oil changes.