Know When to Change Your Car’s Oil

If you own a vehicle, it is your responsibility to take care of it. Vehicle owners should adhere to suggested manufacturer’s regular maintenance guidelines. An important way to keep your car running smoothly and efficiently is to change the oil. Over time, the oil in a car becomes less effective as a lubricant and gets dirty and creates sludge. This dirty oil and sludge will wear out the engine and eventually cause engine failure. Since an engine is costly to replace, it’s important for vehicle owners to do their part and get regular oil changes.

The proper amount of time to go between oil changes depends on who you ask. Some people will tell you to stick to the “3,000 mile or 3 month rule”, meaning that you should get an oil change after 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. However, many car experts claim that that rule was designed only so that oil change service companies could make more money.

If you want a more accurate idea of when you should change your oil, follow the vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendations. Recommendations vary between 3,000 and 10,000 miles but a good rule of thumb is to get an oil change every 5,000 miles or so. This will keep the oil in good working condition and prevent the sludge and other build up that ruins the engine.

Some car manufacturer’s don’t even make a recommendation and instead tell car owners to pay attention to their dashboard. If an oil reminder light comes on, that means that it’s time to change the oil. This strategy is implemented because the need for oil varies depending on factors like driving style. While this may save a driver from getting an unnecessary oil change, they need to understand that when the light comes on they need to change it soon. They can’t drive around with that light on for weeks.

If your vehicle is on the older side (seven or more years) it’s important to get oil changes more frequently. So, in the case of an older car the “3,000 or 3 month rule” still applies. It’s also suggested to use high mileage oil in an older car to keep it running for a longer period of time.

Oil changes are relatively cheap and quick. There is no excuse to not get them done. An additional tip is to change the oil filter when you change the oil. The old oil filter will have old oil gunk on it, so get rid of it.

3 thoughts on “Know When to Change Your Car’s Oil

  1. If consulting your owners manual, be sure to go by the “severe service” interval as that is the category that most people fall under. Although they do not think they are severe drivers, if you read the definition you will see that you likely are. Another factor to keep in mind is that although motor oil technology has come a long way, filter design still has its’ limitations. Most filters, even the better (more expensive) ones reach their capacity by 4-5,000 miles. Once this occurs, they go into a bypass mode meaning no more filtration. I do mostly highway driving, use a quality name-brand synthetic blend oil and filter, and change my oil between 3500 -4,000 miles. So far so good – 72K miles, no leaks, and no burning of oil. Just my thoughts and what works for me, Good luck !

  2. Good post on why oil changing is important. Following the owners manual is probably the best way to go. If you have an older vehicle without an owners manual bestthing would be to find an online copy and follow the reccos if available. Else go with the change every 5K miles at least. I believe diesel vehicles may have a slightly shorter change reccommendation – but again depends on the manufacturer.

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