While the general rule of thumb is to change your oil every 3,000 miles. With new cars you may not need to change that frequently and could be safe waiting until the 4,000-6,000 mile mark; there are even extended-range oils that can help you decrease the frequency that you change your oil in general. While these are general guidelines that you should be aware of, it is extremely important to get an oil change when you need it. Here are a few things you should be aware that might mean you need an oil change right now:
There are contaminants in your oil.
When you first have oil added to your vehicle you will probably notice that it fairly light, almost like honey or syrup. After a few weeks of use your oil will quickly start to darken, but if you are checking your oil and you notice that it is pitch black and see particles in the oil, it might mean you need a change. The particles floating around in your oil could clog up the filter and lead to engine problems in the future.
Your vehicle runs noticeably louder than before.
If you notice that your engine seems to be running louder when you turn on your vehicle, it could mean that you need an oil change. The oil in your car or truck is meant to lubricate all of the moving parts in the engine; as the oil breaks down, friction between parts in your engine increases which can lead to increased noise.
The levels drop quickly.
Your engine is naturally going to burn up oil through every day use. If you notice that your vehicle is dropping oil too quickly, though, it may mean that you need to have your oil changed out completely. Contaminants and particles in the remaining oil could be making new oil you add ineffective. Instead of just checking the levels of your oil, be sure to check the color and consistency as well—you may find that you need a complete oil change and not just a top up.