How Often Should You Change Your Oil?
There can be a significant expense and responsibility with owning or leasing a vehicle, so it only makes sense to do everything possible to help keep it working as it should.
The engine sees plenty of heat and stress, which means the oil inside the engine is critical to a long life. Over time, that oil breaks down and becomes contaminated, so it needs to be changed periodically, or it could cause premature engine wear. But how often should you change your oil?
For years, drivers have heard that oil needs to be changed every 3,000 miles, and yes, this was a typical life expectancy of motor oil. However, there have been technological advancements in everything from the oil itself to your car, plus typical driving habits have changed. So, the answer now may be different than the standard 3,000 miles.
Fortunately, every car comes with a manual that lays out exactly how often to change your oil. Every car is different – some cars need an oil change around 5,000 miles, some 10,000 miles or more. Many newer cars even come with an oil life monitor that will calculate time since the last oil change and remind you exactly when it’s due. All great guidelines, however, these all still rely on the odometer reading to help guide the frequency the oil change is needed. It’s often not quite that simple.
When you crack open that owner’s manual, however, you’ll often notice that there can be two mileage ranges. One for “normal” driving, and one for “severe” driving conditions. Very few people think that their driving habits are severe – they only drive in slow, stop-and-go traffic, or many short trips. Surprise! That type of driving is considered severe, because it puts plenty of strain on an engine. Short trips of 10 miles or less can be especially hard on an engine, because the engine (and the oil) doesn’t get much of a chance to get up to full operating temperature.
Severe driving conditions include things like:
- Short trips of less than 10 miles
- Dusty conditions, gravel roads
- Long highway travel, especially in hot weather
- Turbocharged or diesel engines
- Heavy city traffic
That owner’s manual is important for many reasons, of course – and, it will indicate exactly what type of oil is required. Most reputable shops should know exactly what you need, but it doesn’t hurt to double check. An incorrect oil can, at the very least, cause fuel economy problems. At the worst, it could cause long-term engine damage.
You might be surprised at all that goes into a bottle of oil. It’s not just oil, for instance! Beyond the actual lubricant, the oil has additives and detergents mixed in to prevent buildup of sludge and to prevent corrosion. Those additives make sure the oil flows properly at temperature extremes – whether freezing, or in the desert, your oil needs to get to every part of the engine reliably. Additives in the oil can begin to break down over time. Depending on the severity of your driving conditions, a tailored plan may need to be created for your vehicle’s oil change intervals.
Helping keep your car healthy can be simple. Always use a quality oil and filter that meets or exceeds the standards listed in your owner’s manual. Learn more about our Valvoline oil products now in our Oil Change Service detail.
You and your car are unique. The right oil change interval for you and your car comes down to how you drive and what your car manufacturer recommends. Dig out that owner’s manual from your glovebox and search for your vehicle’s oil change directions – or bring it in with you to your local Goodyear Auto Service store and let us help discuss a plan for your car.