Oil Changing Essentials

Changing your car’s oil is one of the most basic and critically important car maintenance activities. At its core, changing oil in a car consists of removing the old, spent oil from the car’s engine and replacing it with a new oil. It is typical to replace the car’s oil filter at the same time.



With time and as the car’s engine operates, oil breaks down and wears out. It loses its viscosity and becomes much less capable of lubricating all of the engine’s moving parts. Furthermore, oil loses its ability to absorb and dissipate heat as it ages. This can all lead to engine parts being less protected and eventually to a break down. The goal of very vehicle owner is to replace the engine oil, before this costly break down occurs.


How often should oil be changed? This depends on numerous factors: make of the car, the way the car is driven, the age of the car and even your geographical location. A typical rule of thumb, recommended by most mechanics, is to replace your oil every 3000 miles. This may be slightly too aggressive. Most newer automobile manufacturers recommend longer intervals, for example, 5000 miles. Using special synthetic oil will allow you to extend this interval up to 10000 miles.



Engine oil can be replaced at almost any auto mechanic garage, anything from a large car manufacturer’s dealership to a small family run shop. It depends on a person preference convenience and budget. One recommendation that should be made is that oil change be done a reputable location, especially if the vehicle is still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Always have your oil changed by a trusted professional. And yes, changing oil at a registered car mechanics business will not void the warranty, despite a common myth it is not necessary to take the car back to the original dealer who sold it. There is always an option to do it yourself. Changing oil is not a complicated maintenance process and it is an easy project for anyone to do at home.


Replacing the engine oil includes the following steps:

  • Buy new oil filter and sufficient quantity of new oil

  • Warm up your car

  • Park the care on a flat surface

  • Open hood, removed oil filler cap

  • Remove oil plug (under the car, see owner’s manual for details)

  • Drain the old oil into a collection pen

  • Remove old oil filter (see owner’s manual for location)

  • Install new oil filter

  • Reinstall the oil plug

  • Refill the engine with new oil

How to Choose the Right Car Care Professional

We've all been there or heard stories about bad car professionals. Many have a bad reputation of trying to get more money out of you by justifying unnecessary repairs or simply don't know what they're doing. Your vehicle is part of your every day life and routine. It's important that it gets taken care of properly so you're not wasting time or money or worse, jeopardizing you and your family's safety. Here are three ways to help you choose a skilled and trustworthy car care professional:

1. Look for professionals that are willing to show you what needs repaired

Mechanics seem to be notorious for coming up with repairs your car needs that are very pricey. Choose a mechanic that respects you when you ask for proof or additional information. A good, trustworthy professional will always be willing to show you the problem and explain it further. If he or she is hesitant to show you what’s wrong, there’s a chance they’re not telling the truth. It’s important to go with someone who is transparent with you. Often times, mechanics can speak in difficult terms that people may not know. Don’t be afraid to have them stop and explain something until you understand.


2. Check reviews, reputation, and certifications

The beauty of the internet is that you can do research on the company before going in. You may find Angie’s List useful. Check people’s reviews of the place whether it’s a mechanic or even just car washing. A little homework is required, but your vehicle is very important and should only get treated by professionals. You can also ask for the mechanic’s certification. If you do this, you want to check for a certification by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence. This certification requires at least two years of experience along with several different tests.

3. Listen to yourself

If something doesn’t seem right about a certain car professional or business, listen to your gut. It may take some time to find the right person, but it’s worth it. I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of mechanic horror stories. However, there are many great mechanics and other car professionals out there. Just be sure to listen to yourself and do your research before taking your car in.  

A trustworthy mechanic typically won't mind you watching them work. 

A trustworthy mechanic typically won't mind you watching them work. 

5 Essential Car Care Tips Many Drivers Ignore

What's the big deal about car maintenance? Having your car serviced and taken care of regularly helps to improve safety, prevents any damage from worsening, minimizes breakdowns, and results in a higher resale value. People don't often think about it, but hundreds of people die every day from accidents caused by break failure, worn out belts in their car, or worn down tire tread. Performing regular maintenance on your car not only keeps you and your family safe, but also saves you money. If your car doesn't get regular TLC, there may be issues under the hood that you aren't aware of. The longer the issues are left alone, the more likely it is to raise the cost of repair due to the problem growing worse and worse. Car maintenance doesn't need to be hard or something you dread. Here are five simple car care tips that will help your car tremendously:

1. Regular Self Inspections

The vehicle's owner manual will be key for this if you're not familiar with car inspections. The manual will get you familiar with the parts and the way things should look. If something looks or seems off, it will most likely require some extra professional help. 

2. Know what the warning lights mean

It's important to know what the warning lights on your dashboard mean. Most modern cars have sensors that can indicate when something is wrong. The most common lights are the check engine, brake warning, coolant warning, and oil warning light. We touch on this topic a little more here

3. Check tire tread depth

You can check your car's tread depth by performing the "penny test". Grab a penny and insert it into the tire tread with Lincoln's head facing down. If you're able to see the top of his head, it's time for new tires... Immediately! If you perform the penny test and still aren't sure, just have a professional check it out. It's better to be safe than sorry and end up blowing out a tire. 

4. Get your alignment checked and tires rotated

Both the alignment and tires influence your car's fuel economy. Most people say that the basic principle is to have your tires rotated every 5,000 miles driven. However, you can always check your car's owner manual to be sure.

5. Check oil 

Oil is crucial for smooth execution for a car since it involves so much friction in all of the different part that make it go. Checking your oil is fairly simple. Make sure your car is not parked on any elevation; the ground should be level. Remove the dipstick, wipe it off with a clean towel, and then put the oil dipstick back in. Pull the stick out once more and you will be able to see exactly where the oil level is. Typically, there are two notches at the end of the dipstick. Make sure the oil is in between these two notches or marks. If not, your oil level is low and it's time to get your vehicle serviced. It's also important to not the consistency and color of the oil. If it is dark in color, this might indicate overheating or contaminants. 

For more helpful hints and tips, be sure to check out our other blog posts here.

6 Signs of Car Damage You Can Recognize with Your Nose

Cars can be complicated. There's no way for you to know exactly when and where there is a problem occurring. However, your nose can help sniff out the problem. Funny smells coming from your vehicle can indicate specific issues that may need attention ASAP. Here are six different smells that indicate issues in your car:


1. Maple Syrup

Most likely the culprit is antifreeze. Pay attention to when you smell this odor. It would be when the heat is turned on, the engine has been running for a while, or it could even occur once you've turned the car off. There could be antifreeze leaking in your car or from the core of the heater.

2. Rotten eggs or Sulfur

The smell of rotten eggs usually comes from the compound hydrogen sulfide. This compound is a byproduct from sulfur found in fuel. This smell could indicate engine or catalyst converter issues. It's possible that the converter or fuel system is not functioning properly. This needs to be checked out by a professional immediately. 

3. Sweaty Locker Room

Yes. As strange as it sounds, many people face the problem of their car smelling like a musty gym locker room. This unpleasant odor most likely indicates that there is mold or mildew inside your air conditioning vents. It's important to dry out your vents by turning off the A/C and blowing air through the system. If this still doesn't solve the problem, have a professional take care of it for you.

4. Gasoline

Don't be alarmed if you just filled up your tank and smell the odor of gas. However, if you haven't just refueled and still smell it, you should be aware that there might be a problem. The smell of gas might indicate that there's a leak. This leak is most likely in the fuel injector line or the vehicle's gas tank. You need to get this examined as soon as you can because a gas leak poses a serious fire hazard.

5. Hot or Burning Oil

If you smell oil when your engine is hot, it might be an oil leak into the exhaust. Look for oil dripping on the ground underneath your car. It's important to note that it is possible for the leak to not be visible on the ground if it all drips onto the exhaust. Another indication could be thick smoke if the leak persists and gets bad enough. 

6. Burning Carpet

The odor of burning carpet typically is a result of overheating brakes. Riding your brakes downhill may create this odor. However, if you're driving normally, your parking brake might be on. Check your parking brake and if it isn't engaged, it's possible that your brakes are not functioning as they should be. This poses a hazard and they are at risk of malfunctioning. 

Don't wait until it's too late. Get your car serviced regularly and as soon as you think there might be an issue.

Don't wait until it's too late. Get your car serviced regularly and as soon as you think there might be an issue.

You don't have to be a car expert to be able to spot (or smell) when something is wrong with your vehicle. Always pay attention to your car. Funny smells and noises can indicate major problems under the hood. Train your nose to recognize odd smells and what they mean so that you can describe what's going on when your car gets checked out by a professional. 

Interested in blogs like this one? Find more here.

How to Recognize Engine Problems

What's that sound? Does something smell funny? Cars can be very complicated and sometimes it's difficult to know if there's an actual problem. However, there are several warning signs that you can look out for to spot engine damage. These warning signs typically require immediate attention, but the sooner the problem is attended to, the more likely it is that it can be fixed.

If something seems off about your car, don't ignore it! Recognizing a problem early leads to a better chance of being able to fix it. 

If something seems off about your car, don't ignore it! Recognizing a problem early leads to a better chance of being able to fix it. 

Check engine light or other dashboard lights illuminated

This may seem like a no brainer to some. However, there are many people who let their check engine light stay on and pay no mind to it. Out of all of the lights on the dashboard, the most important are Check Engine, Check Oil, and Low Oil Pressure. The Check Engine light is the most difficult and confusing warning due to the amount of causes behind it. It could indicate that something is wrong with your ignition or it could be something as small as not screwing your gas cap on tightly. 


All cars make some strange noises on a daily basis. These noises could include slight ticking or clicking. However, if you notice any new or different sounds, it may mean that attention is required. The main sounds to look out for are squealing, grinding, thumping, or hissing. If you notice any of these sounds or any other unfamiliar noises, try to pinpoint the general area of where its occurring and having a professional check it out.

Funny smells

Unusual smells are a huge warning sign when it comes to engine damage. Be on the lookout for smells similar to burnt rubber, hot oil, gasoline, burning carpet, and rotten eggs. Never ignore odd smells coming from your car even if it is not among the ones listed. Have your car serviced immediately.

Engine problems could be pinpointed by the things you smell or see.

Engine problems could be pinpointed by the things you smell or see.

Steam or smoke

Some smoke can be normal. However, excessive amounts are an indicator that something is wrong under the hood. Be especially aware of dark smoke.

For more of the latest tips and tricks regarding cars and car care, check out HERO's blog