The use of engine oil is essential to the proper running of an internal combustion engine. It provides lubrication for the moving parts, reducing friction and protecting them from damage. Without it there would be excessive wear on components including pistons causing the entire engine to eventually seize. What you will end up with then is a very expensive paperweight. To avoid such a problem, make sure your vehicle’s engine oil is changed regularly.

Engine oil manufacturers set a limit on mileage and lifespan for their products as a guarantee that they will serve their intended purpose for the stipulated period without compromising longevity and safety of the engine’s components. After that period however, you are on your own. After the stipulated period, the viscosity of the engine oil changes and as such may no longer be able to serve its purpose effectively.

Sometimes, especially in the case of older cars, there are times when the level of oil inside the engine decreases over time. This could be due to a leak in the gasket or that your engine is burning oil. Telltale signs of this include formation of small puddles of oil directly under the engine when the vehicle is parked while blue smoke from the exhaust pipe signifies that your engine is definitely burning oil.

Checking to make sure you have enough engine oil is easy. Park the vehicle on a level road and allow it to cool for a while. This is to make sure the entire volume of the oil is collected by the reservoir at the correct level. Remove the dipstick, which resembles a long metal wire with a plastic hook at the end. The hook is usually painted in a bright colour to aid easy identification.

Have a roll of tissue paper with you before pulling it out. Once pulled out, wipe away the oil from the end and place it back in its designated area. This is done to make sure you don’t get a false reading. Now, pull it back out and check that the level is within the markings stated on the dipstick. Refer to your manual to know what the safe levels are, or it is sometimes indicated on the dipstick itself.

Normally, the oil should be a golden colour but if it appears black, that’s an indication that it has been in service for a while (it’s nothing to be alarmed about). However, if it appears foamy, this is a sign that the engine oil is mixing with the coolant, and that is bad news. To make sure that your engine is constantly protected, always adhere to the manufacturer set servicing schedules.

[Naveen Victor]

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