Very few people know the frequency they should change their oil. Some say it should be after 3,000 miles while others say 4-5,000 miles. The guiding principle should be more oil changes with fewer miles will lead to lower maintenance costs especially to your car’s engine. When the oil is not changed in time, it becomes weak and may start causing some abrasion in the engine’s parts. This may lead to cracks that may eventually need the replacement of the whole engine. The following is a lowdown on determining oil changes for your vehicle.
Begin by checking the recommendations of the manufacturer. The team that manufactured your vehicle has performed extensive testing on the car. Some of the testing is done in a lab and the rest is done in the real world. The tests are done in extreme conditions to determine the car’s performance in different aspects. The process of testing has developed a set of guidelines for regular maintenance that includes the frequency of oil changes.
Open the owner’s manual or search for it online if you do not own one. You will get information on the recommendations of the manufacturer from the manual. Begin with advice on time interval or mileage interval and viscosity, also called recommendations for weight. If you read the manual, you will likely come across a note that shows you should change your oil more often if you run your vehicle in severe conditions. There may even be notes about the type of oil you use for certain climates.
Many quick-change lube shops, dealers and mechanics suggest 3,000 mile oil change intervals for most cars. They argue that today’s drivers operate their vehicles under ‘severe driving conditions’. These conditions include frequent driving in temperatures more than 90 degrees or less than 10 degrees, frequent driving in extremely humid climates, frequent towing, regular trips for less than five miles, excessive idling and frequent driving in stop-and-go traffic.
While it is a fact that a lot of drivers experience such conditions on a regular basis, it does not actually mean they should automatically default to a 3,000 mile oil change schedule. This is the case because majority of manufacturer recommendations are ranging from 5,000 miles to 20,000 miles. Instead, it is advisable to use the vehicle’s oil change light when it goes on or the manufacturer’s recommendations for severe use.
Another option would be spending $25 to get oil tested by an independent lab. It will provide an analysis of how much time is left in your oil while identifying any engine problems. The analysis should be used as a guideline for future oil changes.
Even though changing your oil more often will not harm your vehicle, it will cost you. Following the 3,000 mile rule when not necessary may set you back a few hundred or even thousand dollars. You may end up changing your oil more than twice or thrice the recommended times a year (for average car user’s). It is therefore prudent to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in respect to your driving conditions.