Different sources will give you different answers to the question, “How often should I get an oil change?” The old standby is every 3,000 miles, but some sources say this is too often or not often enough, depending on the situation. While there is no secret equation or single answer for everyone, you can learn how often you should get your oil changed by understanding the purpose of this auto service. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s the Point of an Oil Change?
Oil doesn’t necessarily “go bad” – that’s why drivers and mechanics can recycle used engine oil for future use. Instead, the oil picks up dirt, grit, burned fuel, and other contaminates that aren’t good to cycle through your engine. Dirty oil loses efficiency. Drivers must get periodic oil changes to renew the oil in the engine, replacing the old dirty oil with clean lubrication. Oil changes help keep the parts of the engine moving smoothly, preventing buildups of sludge in the engine that can cause costly problems.
Where Did the 3,000-Mile Rule Come From?
Drivers have been obeying the 3,000-mile standard for oil change frequency for decades. No one knows exactly where it started, but it came about as a rule of thumb for drivers who want to keep up with regular oil changes. In a typical vehicle, 3,000 miles is a reasonable amount of distance in between oil changes. Replacing the oil every 3,000 miles will keep it clean and lubricating efficiently. Yet many owner’s manuals on newer vehicles will say it’s acceptable to wait as long as 5,000 miles between changes in typical conditions.
What’s the Right Answer?
To find out how often you should get oil changes, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Each vehicle is unique. Your manual will give you guidelines to follow in terms of how many miles you can safely drive between oil changes. Keep in mind, however, that these are during “normal” driving conditions.
If you’re driving in freezing temperatures, hot weather, low speeds for long distances, dusty roads, or while towing a trailer, your oil can take a toll. In severe conditions, you will need to change your oil more frequently. Schedule an appointment with us to discuss your vehicle’s unique oil change needs.