You know that oil is important for your car and that you need to get it changed regularly, but just how bad is it to drive around with a low oil level? The truth is that sufficient, clean oil is vital to your car’s engine.

Without enough oil, your auto’s engine would seize up and stop functioning. Motor oil is responsible for making your car run as smoothly as possible. Often referred to as the “lifeblood” of your engine, motor oil performs the following critical functions for your car.

  • Lubricates moving engine parts. This reduces the chance of friction, which can damage your engine.
  • Maintains engine power.
  • Prevents and removes harmful deposits in your engine. This results in better engine performance and fuel efficiency.
  • Cools those engine parts not cooled by radiator coolant.
  • Provides protection from corrosion.

How often should you have your car’s oil changed?

The friction and heat created by driving your car degrades the oil over time. For that reason, it’s important to have the engine oil and filter changed on a regular basis.

How often you have your oil changed will vary, depending on how much you drive and the recommendations of your vehicle manufacturer. Generally, it’s recommended that you have your car’s oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

What if your oil warning light comes on?

If you’re driving along and your oil warning light comes on, take it very seriously. This indicates that your car may be unsafe to drive. Your auto’s engine has lost oil pressure, or the oil level is too low.

When the warning light comes on, pull over as soon as possible and shut off the engine. Doing this will ensure your safety and help prevent irreparable damage to your car’s engine.

Rather than attempting to drive any further, call for assistance and have your auto towed to an auto repair shop. Auto technicians will determine the cause of the oil warning light.

Possible causes of the oil engine light coming on include a low oil level caused by failure to get your oil changed in a timely manner, or a faulty oil pump.

The oil gauge may also go on if the oil is too thin, or if the oil pressure sending unit is malfunctioning. This is a component in the car that sends information to your car’s computer, which controls the oil pressure gauge in your dashboard.

Signs of auto oil problems

Before your car’s oil engine light comes on, you may see telltale signs of oil problems. Keep an eye out for oil on the ground where you’ve parked. If you see a greasy puddle of brown liquid, that means you have an oil leak.

Other warning signs are knocking or rapping noises coming from your engine when you drive. That could indicate that the engine isn’t getting enough oil.

To protect your car’s engine and for your safety, it’s important to avoid driving with a low oil level. Doing so compromises your car in many ways. To preserve your car and keep it running at its best, change your oil yourself, or have the car professionally serviced.

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