(Updated on February 19, 2021)
Every car needs an oil change and a tune-up at a regular interval. Oil is essential for lubricating and cooling the hot metal components of the engine. A tune-up can be defined in a lot of different ways, but it basically means inspecting and replacing the most common auto parts that wear out quickly.
For instance, when you bring your vehicle in for a tune-up, a mechanic will inspect your spark plugs, spark plug wiring, fuel filter, air filter, rotor, windshield wipers, wiper fluid, and distributor cap (if it has one).
If any of these parts look too worn out or limited in its capacity to function properly, then they will be replaced. It is typically very cheap to replace these kinds of parts in comparison to the more mechanical components of a vehicle.
You just need to bring your car into the shop for a regular inspection every 4 to 6 months at least. This will ensure that you notice these components starting to go bad before they negatively impact your vehicle.
Common Signs You Need an Oil Change or Tune-up
Most people will get a tune-up at the same time they get an oil change. However, the hardest part for people is getting to the shop in the first place. There are some people who either keep putting it off or they simply like to change their own oil to save money.
If they do the latter, they are probably not inspecting all those other parts which may have gone bad. That is why it is a bigger advantage to take your vehicle to the shop for the oil change unless you do those same inspections yourself.
You will notice when your car cannot wait any longer for its oil change and tune-up. There will be lots of noticeable symptoms that will present themselves. Below are the top 10 signs that you may need to get an oil change and/or a tune-up immediately.
1) Oil or Battery Lights
The dashboard contains warning lights for various issues that you may have with your vehicle. For instance, if the oil light or battery light turns on, this means you need to change your oil or battery; respectively.
2) Weird Engine Noises
If you have low or bad engine oil, it will not do a good job of lubricating the metal components. This will cause louder sounds to be made as the metal components are rubbing against each other and creating friction.
3) Smoke From Exhaust
When your engine has less oil than it needs, there will be smoke coming out of the tailpipe. This will likely be caused by an oil leak in the system somewhere. Fix the leak and replace the oil.
4) Dark Oil
Older or dirty oil will turn very dark. Good oil is supposed to look brighter and have an amber color to it. Test your oil with the stick and see what color it is. If it is dark, then you need new oil.
5) Shifting Lag
If you shift gears in an automatic vehicle and notice that it takes a couple of seconds before the new gear kicks in, you may need to replace the filters or fluid of your transmission system. This is likely the reason for the shifting lag.
6) Engine Hard to Start
When you turn the key in the ignition to start your engine, it should turn on without any problems. But if you are constantly finding it difficult to get your engine turned on, then check the power level of your battery.
You may need to replace it with a new one if the power level is low.
7) Overheated Engine
A serious indication that you may need an oil change is when you have an overheated engine. Oil is supposed to help keep the engine cooled down. So, if you have an overheated engine, then you may need to change your oil.
8) Oil Odor
If you are low on engine oil, then you may experience an oil odor in the cabin. This could be due to a leak or an engine that is getting too hot.
If you experience vibrations as you’re driving, especially on flat even roads, then you need to check your tires. They may have bad treads or low air pressure.
If your car suddenly stalls as you’re driving, then you should have your fuel and electrical systems inspected. You may need to replace your spark plugs or change your fuel filter if it is backed up with debris.