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Posts belonging to Category Auto Maintenance

What Does Burning Oil Mean?

You may have heard the term burning oil in regards to a car that is not running correctly.  Maybe your car is burning oil and you don’t even know it.

Stop reading this right now, go to your car, and check your dip stick in your engine.  Is your oil full or closer to low?

If it is close to low, you may be burning oil.

A car in great condition will hold onto the oil almost fully between oil changes.  When the levels get low, it can be extremely unsafe for your car.  Part of the engine may break down and the engine could possibly seize up.

Older cars often burn oil just because of a lifetime of wear and tear.  Its not a big deal unless you find yourself having to top off your tank fairly often.  What is too often?  Well if you have to add over a quart of oil between each oil change, then you may need some serious repair.

What causes a car to burn oil?

If there is no smoke in the exhaust:

  • The PVC system may not be working correctly
  • The engine may have a mechanical problem
  • Engine valves seals might possibly be worn down
  • Seals in the engine or gaskets may be worn

Coolant appears brown and foamy?

  • Possibly a blown head gaskey
  • Cylinder head may be cracked
  • Water could be leaking into the water cooler

There are oil puddles dripping under the car?

  • Engine gaskets/seals may be worn or damaged
  • The oil filter might need to be tightened
  • The PVC system might night be working properly

There is smoke in the exhaust?

  • The PVC system might not be working properly
  • Engine piston rings could be worn
  • Engine valve seals may be worn
  • The engine may have mechanical problems

If you are handy with your car, some of these issues could be checked and fixed rather easily.  Tightening the oil filter or replacing the oil cooler could be done without too much hassle.  Replacing the head gasket is an expensive ordeal that requires the entire engine being taken apart and rebuilt for a $7 part.

How to prevent oil from burning

You basically need to keep your car in tip top shape.  Get your car a regular oil change and the engine parts will run well for a much longer time.

Oil Change Prices | How Much Does an Oil Change Cost

You really have no choice when it comes to getting an oil change.  You either do it, or you wait for your car to die.  Prices vary significantly depending on the type of oil change, where you get it done, or the type of oil change discount you use.


Variable 1:  What type of car are you driving?

Oil change prices vary depending on the car type.  Larger cars or trucks require more oil and a bigger oil filter.  Those oil changes can be $5-$20 more based on the size of the engine and how many more quarts of oil are needed to fill your engine.


Variable 2: Synthetic oil change or conventional oil change?

The price of synthetic motor oil itself is often two times the price of regular, conventional oil.  People looking to increase their fuel efficiency, prolong the life of their car, or have the best oil change available opt for synthetic oil over conventional oil.  Learn more about synthetic oil changes here.


Variable 3: Where you get your oil change matters.

Often you can find great deals at the nationwide auto service centers like Walmart, Valvoline, and Midas.  They usually have printable cheap oil change coupons online, in newspapers, or in mailers that can usually get you a pretty good deal.


Variable 4:  Are you adding any extras?

The majority of the time, when you go in for an oil change, the mechanic will offer you more services.  They will often offer a great discount oil change just to get you in the door with the hopes of upselling you on tire rotation, spark plug replacement, new brakes, etc.  While most of these options are recommended at certain mileages, you should use common sense as to whether or not you add on these services and prices.  Some places like Jiffy Lube even offer some of these add-ons for free as part of their regular service.


Oil Change Prices

All of that being said, you can usually look to spend as low as $14.99 on an oil change (with an oil change coupon), and upwards of $80 if you want a synthetic oil change on a larger vehicle, and you haven’t shopped around for the best priced oil change or discount oil changes.


How to get better gas mileage – Part 1

How to get better gas mileage – Part 1

A person’s home is usually the biggest drain on their bank account.  You have rent/mortgage, home owner’s insurance, gas or oil bills, electricity, water, etc.  These bills add up, and you can bring the prices on a few of them down, but not all.  Most people who are strapped for money or looking to save more look to cut these expenses to free up some money.


Rather than cut back on expenses, cut back on the need for expense.  Let’s take a look at your car.  The costs include payments (if that), auto insurance, maintenance, gas, and normal repairs.  You can get cheaper car insurance by shopping around and being a good driver.  Payments can be renegotiated in some cases for car loans.  Maintenance, gas , and repairs on the other hand, can be brought down with a cheap oil change.   Beyond that, here is our top ten list of ways to get better gas mileage.

Check your air filter

The air filter is one of the easiest parts of the engine to get into. Most cars have a simple intake slot that you can pull the air filter right out of and reinstall very easily.

Try locating your air filter, then just give it a little once over.  If it looks dirty, it may be time to change it.  A clogged or dirty air filter makes your engine work harder to get power into the system.  A really dirty filter can easy cause the car to idly wrongly or stall out.  Very quick and cheap (~$10) fix.

Lose some weight

Well maybe not you, but the car should lose weight.  Do you have a full trunk or stuff piling up in your back seat?  Because of this weight, you have to push farther on the gas pedal to get going.  This makes you use more gas (spend more money).

An extra 100 pounds in your car can diminish your gas efficiency by 2%.  This means you are saving about 3-7 cents per gallon for every 100 pounds you remove from your car.

Roof Rack Effect on MPG

Drop the roof rack!

The roof adds weight in addition to causing more drag on your car.  Auto makers designed your car to be sleek and aerodynamic.  Why are you putting something on your roof that completely ruins all the hard work they put into designing your automobile?  The drag from an EMPTY roof rack can drop MPG by about 12%.  Throw a mountain bike up there and your fuel efficiency tanks out by over 25%.  Bigger bulkier items will kill your fuel efficiency.  Use them when you need it, but take down the rack when not in use!


Check your tire pressure

How about a free tip!  Do you have a tire air pressure gauge?  They are pretty cheap and you can find them at a gas station or around any Walmart oil change station.   Lots of gas stations have the gauge attached to a free, or quarter operated air compressor.  Next time you head to the dreaded gas station, swing around back by the air compressor to check your car’s correct PSI.  You will see the recommended PSI levels on the tire, close to the rim.  Make sure it isn’t too low, but do not over fill it.  Low tire pressure can significantly lessen the MPG of your car.


Get an oil change

There is no need to spend a lot of money on an overpriced oil change.  There are so many competitors in the quick oil change industry that everyone is throwing out great discounted oil changes, but you have to look for the deal.

Keeping your car properly maintained can increase your MPG by 4%.  Let’s put that in dollars and cents for you.

Let’s assume that you get gas for $3.79 a gallon.  If you drive 20,000 miles in a year, and get 25MPG, then you spend $3,032 a year on gas alone.

Now we are going to keep your car properly maintained with oil changes.  Gas prices still are $3.79 (sorry nothing we know of can change that).  Make believe you still drive 20,000 miles a year.  4% better gas mileage thanks to your oil change gets you about 26 MPG.  With our new mileage, you spend $2,915 a year on gas.  That is a savings of $117 a year!  You’ll need 6 oil changes that year.  Use some oil change coupons to get the price down to about $15 per oil change and you’re looking at $90 a year.  You’re still saving money on oil changes!

That’s all for today’s lesson on getting better miles per gallon for your car.  Later this week we’ll be posting part two of our “How to get better gas mileage” series.

How much can better MPG save you per year?

In today’s rough economy everyone is looking for ways to pinch pennies and save money.  It is almost terrifying to a lot of people when they see the gas tank get closer to the empty sign.  Flashes of high price mile per gallon fuel run through their heads and they drive until they are on fumes, as though the price will drop before they run out of gas.


There is no avoiding the gas pumps or the high price of filling up, but if you take the advice I offer, you’ll have to fill up a lot less often.  This can save you around $400 a year.


Following the tips, many cars can increase their fuel economy by 15%.  That means if you’re driving at 20 MPG right now, you can get up to 23 MPG.  Look at it like this information I got from a gas MPG calculator to show how much you can save with this calculation:


  • Fuel Price: $3.89 (The current local gas price in Los Angeles)
  • Pre MPG increase: 20 MPG
  • Post MPG increase: 23 MPG
  • Annual mileage: 15,000
  • Annual gas spending before maximizing fuel efficiency: $2,918
  • Annual gas spending after maximizing fuel efficiency: $2,537

That would be a saving of $381 in that year!

Save money by getting an oil change

Everybody has different results, some better, some worse.  If you drivemore miles, then you definitely need to look into increasing MPG, because you’ll more than likely save over $400 a year.  That is over $30 a month.


Tomorrow I’ll be posting tips for increasing MPG.  They are easy to follow and will save you hundreds of dollars per year on gas.  Teaser:  I’ll recommend the obvious…get a cheap oil change!  You’ll find access to cheap oil change coupons throughout the site that can help get those prices down.  You can increase your MPG by 4% with a good oil change.