Since motor oil keeps your vehicle healthy and running, it’s essential to change it at the right times. However, it can be difficult to figure out the correct oil change frequency for your vehicle.
Most drivers on the road today have heard the common recommendation of going in for an oil change every 3 months or after every 3000 miles. While this is a decent rule of thumb, this interval may not be ideal for your vehicle or your driving style. So, the question remains, how often should you be changing the oil in your car?
Depending on the Age of Your Car
In general, older model cars require more frequent oil changes. Many newer models are equipped with oil monitoring systems that can automatically display when your car needs an oil change. These systems analyze the operating conditions of the car to determine the exact right time. Another option, regardless of your car’s age, is to look into the owner’s manual to see the manufacturer recommended oil change interval under extreme and normal driving conditions.
Depending on Your Driving Habits
Many drivers are unaware that their driving habits have a direct correlation to their optimal oil change interval. For example, if you mostly use your car for trips shorter than 10 miles, you should change the oil more often than 3000 miles. This is because the engine doesn’t get hot enough to boil the condensation. If, however, you make longer trips at steady speed, your engine will heat up enough to evaporate problematic condensation.
Depending on the Operating Conditions of the Car
Operating conditions also play a major role in determining oil change intervals. If you drive under extreme operating conditions that put extra pressure on the engine, you should change the oil more frequently. These conditions may include consistently driving during rush hour, making short trips, driving in extremely hot or cold climate, towing heavy loads, and keeping your car parked for long periods of time.
These conditions are problematic because the engine doesn’t get hot enough to evaporate the water accumulating in its crankcase. That results in sludge buildup in the engine. However, if you maintain your car in optimal operating conditions, you can elongate the oil change interval to 7500 miles or more. With newer vehicles, it is important to not extend this period beyond every 5000 miles.
Depending on the Oil Type
Though conventional oil is cheaper, it requires more frequent oil changes. Synthetic oil, on the other hand, is the new kid on the block. It keeps your engine safe for a much longer time than traditional oil. Oftentimes, synthetic oils can allow you 12,000 miles between changes.
The latest vehicles have this version of oil with special additives and ability to resist high temperature breakdowns. Due to lack of impurities and a uniform molecule structure, synthetic oils are better than the conventional types. Remember, they can be a bit pricey as well. Remember, this higher price tag upfront will save you more in the long run.
Consider these conditions and choose an option that’s best for your ride. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a certified mechanic.