You know that at some point you need to change your car’s oil, but how often? Since it varies depending on driving conditions and your driving habits, the response can be confusing. For you, let us simplify it.
Until major changes in fuel-delivery systems, engine materials, processing processes, and oil chemistry, optimistic figures for oil-change periods used to be as low as 3000 miles. Modern engines today usually drive stretch cycles of 7500 or even more than 10,000 miles. So what answer is right?
When Your Vehicle Is in Warranty
When a car is new, the solution is simple: if you don’t want to cancel the warranty on your powertrain, follow the oil type, mileage and timing instructions in the owner’s manual. (Lost the manual of your owner? It’s possibly available online.) In most situations, for necessary inspections and repairs, you can take your car to the dealer, and oil adjustments will be included in that regime.
Some newer vehicles are fitted with an integrated oil-life display. This gadget uses an algorithm, sensors, and software that keeps track of driving temperatures, cold start, driving hours, idling hours, and engine speeds. This data is used to measure the oil condition and the warranty-preserving shift intervals. Bear in mind that the oil monitor is adjusted for the type of oil recommended in the owner’s manual. Service warnings are shown in the tool cluster. In certain devices, one of the instrument cluster information screens will read the remaining oil life as a percentage. This is a lot different from the red oil-pressure alarm light that glows when you start the engine. If that’s on when you’re driving or idling, it means you’re out of oil or have a really serious engine problem. Time to park and get the key off.
When Your Vehicle Is out of Warranty
Once you’re out of the manufacturer’s warranty, setting change intervals needs some common sense and an informed guess—unless your vehicle has the oil-life monitor described above. There are also different recommendations for regular and serious driving. Intervals vary greatly depending on who you are asking, if you are towing (and how often), the time of year, and even where you are driving.
Severe conditions include:
- If you make many short trips of five miles or less (in normal temperatures)
- If you make many short trips of 10 miles or less (in freezing temperatures)
- Extreme hot-weather stop-and-go driving
- Driving at low speeds for long distances
- Lots of miles on dusty, muddy, salty, sandy, or gravel roads
- Long-distance trailer towing
Intervals of Oil Change – Older Vehicles
Older cars usually have oil change intervals dependent on the mileage and have two maintenance schedules, one for “standard” vehicles and the other for “extreme service” vehicles. The latter category includes running your car under one or more of the following conditions:
- Mainly short trips (5 miles or less)
- Very hot, cold, or dusty weather.
- Sustained stop-go driving
- Wearing heavy loads or towing a trailer
If the use of your vehicle falls within the strict service definition set out in your owner’s manual, keep your car on a more rigorous schedule. However, if you drive your car under normal conditions, be wary of spending hard-earned money on oil change services and other maintenance work that your car may not need or benefit from.
Oil Change Intervals – Newer Cars
Most newer cars are fitted with oil-life monitoring systems that automatically assess when an oil change is required and alert you to the instrument panel. Early simple systems are time-based and mileage-based, but modern advanced designs evaluate real vehicle operating conditions to determine when the oil will begin to degrade. In fact, the owner’s and maintenance manuals for many newer cars fully remove “extreme service” instructions because the oil-life monitoring system automatically shortens the oil change period when it detects heavy-duty activity.
Whenever you change your car’s oil, the service technician can reset the oil-life monitoring system. If you change your own oil, the device can be reset by following the directions in the car owner’s manual.
Less frequent oil changes on newer engines make it important that you check the oil level on a monthly basis and top it up as needed. While many engines can use less than a quarter of oil between changes, others will use as much as a quarter every 600 to 700 miles. Maintaining sufficient oil levels will help you prevent expensive car repairs; engine wear or damage resulting from low oil levels would not be protected by your new car warranty. Notice that if you don’t put a ton of miles on your vehicle, most manufacturers suggest an oil change every 12 months, even if the maintenance reminder doesn’t come along.
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Are You Looking for an Oil Change Shop You Can Trust?
If you’re considering making a change to an independent auto repair mechanic trusted by thousands of happy customers, look no further than autoTECH Blackhawk. Why? We differ from other automotive repair shops because we are a relationship shop. This means that the more of your car repair needs we support you with, the better able we are to customize our recommendations based on your driving habits and needs. Whether you want to keep the daily driver in ‘good enough’ condition, style your new car so that it’s customized just for you, maintain your favorite car in ‘like new’ condition, or even train your whole family to be more knowledgeable about cars – we partner with you to ensure that your cars meet your needs. We also offer an industry-leading 3-Year/36,000 mile warranty, so we only use Original Equipment and manufacturer recommended products. Contact us now to book your no-contact, friendly appointment! We truly value your trust and your business, so thank you for staying local with your auto repair needs.