When To Change Oil: Signs Your Car Needs An Oil Change

No matter if you're a vehicle guru or just taking your first foray into car ownership, there is at least one thing you won't ever be able to escape: oil changes. If you fall on the latter end of that spectrum, you might not be sure about really when to get an oil change in your vehicle. If that's the case, keep reading as we go into some of the telltale signs your car needs an oil change. We'll cover everything from the obvious to the not-so-obvious signs you need an oil change. No matter what level of expertise you have with your vehicle, you'll want to put 'er in park and tune in.

Signs You Need an Oil Change

  1. Your Oil Change Light Illuminates

    There are a few dead giveaways that will answer, "When should you change your oil?" with relatively little or no room for misinterpretation. One of these lies within your dashboard symbols. These handy-dandy little lights will illuminate whenever there is an issue or a piece of information that is crucial for you to know about your vehicle. You'll see them light up around your instrument cluster in various locations.

    If your oil level is low, your low oil light will come on. If you own a gorgeous new Volkswagen Jetta, this light will usually look like a yellow genie's lamp with a zig-zagging line underneath it. If you see this light come on, feel free to check your oil level yourself and make sure it's not simply a sensor issue. If you run into a problem with your sensor or it really is oil replacement time, come see us.

  2. Grimy Oil

    It's easy to check the appearance of your own oil, and we recommend doing so one to two times per month, depending on how often you drive. You simply locate your dipstick (no, no, not him, we mean the actual stick) and wipe the oil away on a light towel or cloth. Oil that is in good shape should look glossy, amber, and translucent. It should not resemble the consistency of yogurt or any other similarly delicious dairy product. If you see dirt, grime, or an otherwise excessively dark appearance to your oil, it's time to schedule oil change service with us here in Daytona, FL.

    Bonus: After wiping the oil off of your dipstick, dip it in and bring it out again to check your oil level. If it's low, bring your vehicle in!

  3. You've Hit the Mileage Limit

    If you've had your Volkswagen Passat for a few years now, chances are you've already brought it in for service or an oil change at least once. Check your window for a little sticker that has a number of miles on it. Cross-reference that with the number on your odometer. If your odometer is reading at or above that number, come see us.

    However, if you have a brand-spanking-new model, you might not have had to get an oil change before, so you may not see that sticker. So, when will you know to bring her in for an engine oil change? We suggest getting your first oil change when you reach about 10,000 miles on the odometer or after one calendar year.

  4. You Have Issues Changing Gears

    If you're not able to shift gears as smoothly as you could 10,000 to 20,000 miles ago, the likely culprit is low oil. This is one of the lesser-known signs you need an oil change - a gear oil change, that is. As the oil on your gears starts wearing down, it can be harder to shift gears and cause damage to your transmission over time.

  5. Your Car Is Experiencing Other Low Oil Symptoms

    You know how your throat starts to get scratchy when you're getting sick? Your nose might run, and you may feel exhausted, have a headache, or be extra sneezy one day.

    Just like you face symptoms when you're sick, all new cars for sale will start to experience symptoms of low engine oil when it's time for a change. Some symptoms may be more severe than others depending on the quality and amount of oil in your vehicle. For example, having no oil in a car will cause a lot of damage to your internal components, leading to very obvious signs you need an oil change without ever even needing to check the oil itself.

    If you need an oil change, you could see excessive smoke starting to come out of your exhaust. You may also start to smell oil inside the cabin, which is a greasy scent that can come about due to oil leakage.

    Does it sound like someone is standing on the inside of your engine, knocking on it to gain access to your car? Knocking, bumping, rattling, and other abnormal noises emanating from your engine can also be an obvious oil change sign. Generally, if you hear a noise that you've never heard before, make an appointment with us (whether it's an oil change issue or not); it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do you really need to change your oil?

How often you need an oil change depends on the make and model of your car and what kind of oil it takes. Conventional oil has a shorter life span than synthetic oil, for example. However, most people should request this service approximately every six months to reduce the risk of engine overheating and damage. Oil changes are among the most crucial ways owners can take care of their vehicles.

Should I change my oil by date or mileage?

The short answer is "both." The more you travel, the quicker your engine oil will degrade, meaning that if you go on a cross-country road trip, you'll need an oil change sooner than if you stick to your usual commute. That said, you should still get an inspection and oil change at least every six months. Oil thins in high heat - which Florida has a lot of - and becomes less effective.

Does it hurt to change oil early?

No, it doesn't, and doing so is often recommended if you know you're heading out on a long trip. Not only does fresh engine oil help prevent your engine from overheating, but it also lubricates essential moving parts so that they work more efficiently, helping you maintain good fuel economy. During your oil change, our team can also keep an eye out for other issues, like thinning brake pads, to ensure your car is in overall good shape.

Now That You Know, Let Us Handle the Rest

So, what do you say? Are you ready to expertly diagnose the source of your car's problem as one of the many signs you need an oil change? Oil changes might be the most common service your car ever needs, so we're excited that you've decided to learn more about this important vehicle function here with us. Your car wouldn't run properly without just the right amount of good quality oil. So, get ready to use those newly-honed oil change senses of yours to expertly detect the next time you need an oil change. After that, you can come see us and let us handle the rest.

Make an Inquiry

* Indicates a required field


Gunther Volkswagen Daytona Beach

1270 N. Tomoka Farms Road
Directions Daytona Beach, FL 32124

  • Sales: 754-220-4593
  • Service: 754-220-4593
  • Parts: 754-220-4593


  • Monday 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Thursday 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Friday 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Saturday 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Signs You Need an Oil Change | Gunther VW Daytona Beach - Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)