Oil changes are just one of the many things you have to do when you own a car. However, they are important to keeping your vehicle in good running order. Even more, if you do not change your oil on a timely basis and with the proper products, you could potentially void your vehicle’s warranty.
However, experts claim that the standard oil change interval of every three months — or every 3,000 miles — may be old news. Most newer vehicles can go quite a bit longer before needing to have their oil changed. If you’re changing your oil more often than needed, it will not help your car. It will not harm it, either, but you are just wasting money, time, and resources. Remember that throwing away oil that is still usable also is a strain on the environment.
There are four “recommended” intervals for changing your oil based on certain factors unique to you and your vehicle:
- Every 1,000 miles
- Every 3,000 miles
- Every 5,000 to 7,500 miles
- Every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or every six months
This article will take a closer look at the circumstances for each of these proposed intervals.
Change Every 1,000 Miles
If some experts claim that 3,000 miles is too often, why would these same experts advise intervals of every 1,000 miles? It all depends on how you drive. If your driving habits consist of trips typically of 10 miles or less, you should consider changing your oil more often than every 3,000 for two main reasons.
If you are not making long trips at high, steady speeds, then your engine is not getting hot enough to boil off the condensation that gathers in the system. That can result in oil breaking down even faster.
Most of the wear and tear on your engine happens when you are starting your vehicle, and if you are not traveling very far, most of your driving is of the sort that is very hard on your engine. More frequent oil changes will help minimize this kind of damage.
Basically, if you drive your car infrequently, much less than the mileage advised in your service interval, you should still change your oil twice annually because your oil will still degrade over time.
Change More Frequently
Certain vehicle experts recommend that the 3,000-mile interval is really for the benefit of shops that change oil because, the more frequently you come in, the more money they can make. Even still, if you have an older car that needs this interval, you are probably going to be better off following it.
According to Scientific American, there may be a case for longer intervals, specifically every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, based on the fact that this is what is usually advised in the majority of vehicle owner’s manuals. The 5,000 to 7,500 interval is becoming more and more common, though some vehicle manufacturers advise that you also take your driving style into account.
Change Every 10,000 Miles
If the vehicle manufacturer advises that you use synthetic oil, or if you choose to make the switch, you could go as many as 10,000 miles or more between oil changes. Although synthetic oil is much more expensive than standard oil, it does come with more benefits. It will perform better than regular oil and is more beneficial for the environment.
Not everyone agrees if it is worth it to upgrade, however. Some experts suggest doing it in most cases, but according to Consumer Reports, you should not make the switch to synthetic if your vehicle does not need it. If you frequently tow heavy loads, synthetic oil can help ease the extra strain on your engine. If you own a model that is prone to slide issues, synths oil can help relieve those issues and increase the longevity of your engine.
What Do Those Dashboard Lights Mean?
It is advised to keep track of the miles you have traveled between oil changes, though some vehicles make this simple with a dash indicator that informs you it is time to do so. These systems track your mileage and also use data from your driving to determine when your vehicle requires an oil change. When the light turns on, it is advised that you get your oil changed as soon as you can. However, it is not necessarily urgent.
If your vehicle has an oil life monitoring system, keep in mind that this light is different than your oil pressure light, which lights up on your dash when your vehicle’s oil is not flowing properly due to low level, a failing oil pump, a leak in the system, or another problem. Learn the difference between two alerts because, if the oil pressure light comes on, you should stop driving immediately to avoid damaging the engine.
Develop the habit of checking your oil at least once per month to make sure your vehicle is not leaking or burning oil. If the level is low, you should add oil. Good oil should be a clear brown-black color, although the Automobile Association of America warns that the color is not the sole indicator of oil life. If your oil is murky, it may be time for an oil change. If it is a milky color, your engine may be leaking coolant.
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