How does oil affect your engine? Read here for more info on how often your car should be getting an oil change. Knowing when to change the oil in your vehicle used to be simple. There was a common standard: Do it every 3,000 miles. With technologically advanced engines and synthetic oils constantly being developed and reformulated, it’s not quite that easy anymore.
Your car’s engine needs oil to keep moving parts lubricated, especially since the tolerances are minuscule between parts such as the bearings, crank, rings, and cylinder walls. Differing temperatures cause the metal parts to expand and contract, and when those parts are expanded, the tolerances are even tighter. Without a lubricant, the engine might seize. Changing this lubricant — your oil — on a regular basis ensures that it performs as designed.
Synthetic Oil Change Interval
If you are using synthetic oil, the interval between oil changes can be extended. Manufacturer recommendations range from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles, on average. Some recommended intervals might be shorter or longer. So, how many miles between oil changes is just right? Even when using synthetic oil, it depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations and the way you drive. It’s also worth noting that a full synthetic oil change, while pricier than a regular oil change, is better for the environment and does allow you more time between oil changes.
Determine the Optimal Number of Miles Between Oil Changes
Oil detergents and additives are what break down over time. The additives also prevent sludge from building up, and they prevent corrosion as well. As these detergents break down, the oil offers less protection for your engine.
Dirty or old oil can damage your engine. Be sure you pay attention to how often you change your oil.
To answer the question: “How often do I need an oil change?” check your owner’s manual. It may recommend 7,500-mile oil changes when using full synthetic oil and 5,000-mile intervals for oil that is only partially synthetic. Be sure to read all of the material the manufacturer provides, as the way you drive will determine which recommendations to follow. Factors that could affect the recommended interval between oil changes include:
Driving less than 10 miles per trip frequently, especially during the cold months. Towing, especially uphill. Frequently driving on gravel roads and in other dusty conditions. Whether your vehicle’s engine is turbocharged. Whether you drive a diesel-powered vehicle. Whether you do a lot of stop-and-go driving. Whether you drive at sustained highway speeds during the hot months. The age and condition of the vehicle.
The owner’s manual will state the recommended oil change interval for adverse driving. The interval could be as low as 3,000 miles if you constantly drive your vehicle in adverse conditions.
Synthetic Oil vs. Conventional Oil
If you still use mineral oil — regular oil — the answer to your question, “When do I need an oil change?” is quite simple: every 3,000 miles. Mineral oil has more impurities and the oil detergents tend to break down sooner than is the case with synthetic oil. This is because synthetic oil is cleaner than mineral oil.
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