How often do I need an oil change?

How often do I really need to change my oil?

The standard 3,000 mile parameter between oil changes is a thing of the past. However, changing the oil at the correct time is still one of the most important aspects of keeping your vehicle in good working order. As advancements in oil-based technologies continue to change the manner in which oil life is expended and measured, consumers have been left asking, “How often do I really need to change my oil?” Unfortunately, there’s no single correct answer. But we can break down a few different situations that should shed some light on the best course of action for you and your vehicle.

Oil Changes When Under Warranty

When your vehicle is still under manufacturer warranty, your options are a bit limited. The most important aspect of under-warranty oil maintenance is ensuring that oil type, filter type, and mileage intervals are adhered to based upon the warranty guidelines. If this is not the case, there’s a possibility the warranty will be voided.

If the vehicle were to have a lubrication-related failure that results in major engine repairs being needed, all manufactures will require a comprehensive maintenance record prior to approving the repairs. Be sure to keep all invoices from shops, as without these it’ll be very difficult to prove that you’ve properly maintained the vehicle. Using a platform like CarAdvise will keep all of those records for you electronically right in their platform, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Being that the intervals and guidelines will vary on a vehicle–by-vehicle basis, you’ll have to review the warranty for your specific vehicle. The typical threshold is every 5,000-7,500 miles, as most manufacturers recommend synthetic blended oil. Then it’s up to you to ensure the oil changes are completed within the necessary parameters, although your vehicle will more than likely help you with this, but we’ll get into that later. We have learned the CarAdvise app will also display your vehicle’s manufacturer recommended interval and oil type, helping that part become easier as well.

Oil Changes When Not Under Warranty

You have much more freedom when you don’t have to worry about voiding a warranty. While it’s still a good idea to keep service records for resale purposes, it’s not as vital as when a warranty is in place. (Can you add impact of good maintenance records and increased resale value i.e. 2-5% more, or $500-800 on average…something like that)?

Depending on whether you’re using conventional, a synthetic blend, or full synthetic, your changing intervals will vary greatly. However, at this point you should not be using conventional, as the synthetic oils are much better for the engine and they also have longer mileage intervals. If for some reason you cannot be talked out of conventional oil, the standard interval is every 3,000 miles. (doesn’t this just go against what was just said above)

Synthetic blends are typically 20% synthetic oil and 80% conventional. So in reality, not all that much better than conventional, but still better for the vehicle. Synthetic blends will afford you 5,000-7,500 miles before a change is needed, though you should probably stick to changing it closer to the 5k mark.

Full synthetic oil is where you want to be. This oil provides the best protection for your engine and allows you to drive 7,500 to 10,000 miles between changes. Recently released Mobil 1 claims to protect up to 15,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first. We can only assume that these mileage thresholds will continue to grow as time goes on. Full synthetic also benefits the earth in that less oil waste is generated. So save the earth, use synthetic.

All this said, we don’t live in a perfect world, so leaks and excessive oil burning can occur. This being so, it’s important to check your oil levels often, even if using full synthetic, as the intervals will be much smaller if either of these issues are occurring.

Oil Changes for Heavy Duty Vehicles

For those of you that have long stretches idling while powering generators or equipment with your truck, it’s necessary to not only consider miles, but also engine hours. It’s estimated that every gallon of gas consumed while idling equates to 30 driven miles. This makes it vital to not only track driven miles, but your engine-hour-miles as well, and to change the oil accordingly.

Vehicle Technology

Oil Life Monitoring Systems have become standard on an increasingly large numbers of vehicles. Although these systems have been in existence for more than 20 years, the older ones simply looked at oil temperature and engine revolutions. The new systems are much more complex and accurate. These systems now take into account distance, time, engine temperatures, starts and stops, calculated engine loads, and trip duration, among other data points.

This combination of advancements in computer technologies and oil-based technologies will not only make it easier to track when a change is needed, but will also make necessary changes far less frequent. With that being said, there will never be a single, all-encompassing answer for, “how often do I need to change my oil.” However, just to be safe, it is recommended you adhere to the type of oil you are using and the miles we stated before. And, to be really safe and get best performance for your vehicle, getting it changed every 5000 miles is a good practice as most service shops perform free inspections to ensure everything is in a safe and good working order. We recently used the CarAdvise app to find the best shops in the area, and made scheduling easy. And, we found the CarAdvise price to be better than off the street.

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