How Often Should I Really Change My Oil?
The number one question around motor oil is how often you should change it.
Traditionally, standard straight weight oil needed a change every 3,000 miles. However, modern synthetic and multi-weight oils have made some manufacturers recommend up to 10,000 or even 15,000 miles between oil changes.
So what’s best? Let’s dive in.
Factors Affecting Oil Change Frequency
Driving habits and vehicle usage are big factors in how often you should change your oil. When, where, and how you drive impacts the wear and tear the car’s engine and oil experiences. While you might think you drive under normal conditions, a majority of drivers actually drive in a “severe” way most of the time.
Severe Driving Factors Listed in an AAA Study Included
- Frequent short trips of less than 5 miles in normal temperatures or less than 10 miles in freezing temperatures
- Driving in stop-and-go traffic in hot weather
- Low speed driving (less than 50 miles per hour) for long distances
- Driving on dusty or muddy roads, or roads that have salt, sand, or gravel on them
- Carrying items on the car top or, if driving a pickup truck, towing a vehicle, trailer, or camper behind you
Adapting Recommendations to Your Vehicle
Understanding your car's needs based on your driving style is essential. It's about more than just hitting mileage markers—it's about gauging the wear and tear your driving habits impose on the engine.
Can a Car Really Go 10,000 Miles Without an Oil Change?
Can it? With the right oil type and driving style, yes. Should it? That’s where we disagree with some manufacturers.
While going 10,000 miles between oil changes is technically feasible, it’s not the best practice for the longevity of your vehicle. Pushing oil changes to that extent could be asking too much from the engine, especially if you plan on keeping the car long-term.
Our Philosophy: "Fluids Are Cheaper Than Parts"
There's a philosophy we follow: "Fluids are cheaper than parts." Even if the manufacturer recommends a longer interval, we prefer changing oil earlier, at around 5,000 miles, especially for our fleet cars that endure frequent use.
It's a cautious approach, because missing an oil change deadline and extending it further can harm the engine. For our own vehicles, we’d much rather change oil frequently than change parts earlier than necessary.
Recommendations and Biannual Check-ups
Ultimately, your vehicle needs a check-up twice a year, and that includes your oil–no matter how often you drive the car. Despite manufacturer suggestions, our practice leans toward more frequent changes, promoting better engine health and longevity.
Talk to your local service center about your driving habits and oil type to see which oil change schedule is best for you.