How Long Can You Go Between Oil Changes?

Which option would you choose: pay less than $100 for an hour-long oil change OR pay thousands!) (for engine repairs that take days to complete? The change in oil is the obvious choice, but that’s the game you ‘re taking when you put off the change in oil.

It’s best not to push your luck with how long you can go without a change in oil. It might seem like a burden to take the time to do that. But if you don’t get regular oil changes, the junk is going to build up, and you’re going to face a much bigger problem.

How often should you get an oil change?

You might have heard the old advice to get an oil change every “3 months or 3,000 miles.” But that’s just not true anymore.

With all the advancements in engine design and synthetic oil technology, modern vehicles can travel 5,000, 7,500 or even 10,000 + miles between oil changes. The best advice is to follow the manufacturer’s recommended interval for oil change found in the owner’s manual.

Many modern vehicles are equipped with an oil life monitoring system that lets you know when you’re due to a change in oil. Each system is slightly different, but essentially, the oil life monitoring system tracks your mileage and driving habits to calculate how much longer your oil will last.

Why Oil Changes Matter

Frequent oil changes are needed to keep your car performing at its best. The primary function of motor oil is to keep the various parts of your car’s engine well lubricated. As it circulates through the engine, the oil provides a layer of protection between the moving parts of the engine, removes heat from the engine, and removes bits of dirt and metal.

Over time, exposure to heat, air, and moisture will make your car oil less efficient. Debris cloggs the oil filter, and oxidation thickens the oil into sludge. Sludge and debris are used to protect parts of the oil engine, resulting in very expensive repairs. However, this could all be avoided for a little bit of time and money.

It’s best to keep track of the miles you ‘re driving between oil changes, though some cars make this easier with a dash indicator that tells you it’s time to go to the store as part of what’s called an oil life monitoring system. These systems track your mileage and also use the driving data that your car’s computer analyzes to determine when your car needs an oil change. When the light illuminates, it’s best to change the oil as soon as possible, but it’s not necessarily urgent.

If your car has an oil life monitoring system, note that this light is different from your oil pressure light, which will illuminate your dash if your car’s oil is not flowing properly due to a low level, a failed oil pump, a system leak or some other issue. Learn the difference between the two dash lights, because if the oil pressure light is switched on, you need to stop driving as soon as possible to avoid engine damage.

Get used to checking your oil at least once a month to make sure your car doesn’t leak or burn oil. Add oil if the level is low. Good oil should be a clear brown-black colour, although the American Automobile Association warns that color is not the only indicator of oil life. If the oil is dark or opaque, it may be time for a change, and if it’s milky, the coolant may leak to your engine. However, if your car has one of the oil monitoring systems mentioned above, you may not have a dipstick to check the oil.

By Jon ‘ShakataGaNai’ Davis, CC BY 3.0,

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