Q. How often do I really need to get the oil changed in my car? Why?
A. Back in the day, you had to change your oil every 3,000 miles. But, new formulations of oil have longer life spans and don’t have to be changed as frequently. Typically, you’ll change your oil every 5,000 to 7,000 miles.
Oil not only lubricates your engine, it cleans as it goes. All sorts of gunk is created as an engine runs. Oil picks up the debris as it travels through your engine. That’s why your dipstick starts off dripping with a beautiful amber liquid and ends up covered in black sludge.
Also, over time, oil breaks down. It loses its lubricating power as it gets dirty from picking abrasive deposits. It has a life-cycle. And, although newer synthetic oils last longer than their traditional counterparts do, eventually they too have to be changed.
It’s generally advisable to follow the guidelines in your owner’s manual, especially if your car is under warranty. Some newer cars will even have a flexible oil change schedule based on the type of driving you do. Some of the factors that affect the life of the oil in your car include: stop and go driving, hot weather or excessive heat, towing heavy loads, or anything that puts an extra strain on the engine.
Typically, the computer will warn you when it’s time to change your oil. But don’t rely on it. Even if you haven’t covered the minimum number of miles, oil ages and absorbs moisture. So, you should probably change it at least once a year regardless of mileage.
Remember, routine oil changes can extend the life of your engine, make it run more efficiently and maintain your resale value. It’s a small thing, and one well worth doing.