How Often Do I Really Need to Change My Oil?

Dealing with automotive maintenance services like oil changes can be a bit like going to the dentist. There's nothing particularly fun about it, but it needs to be done if you want to keep your vehicle healthy. A standard oil change is a relatively simple procedure. Old oil is drained from the pan and the oil filter is replaced. Fresh new oil is added.

Engine oil is truly the lifeblood of your car, so you want to keep clean oil in the system. It will help keep your engine running smoothly. If your oil is low or degraded in any way, you risk engine parts seizing up and major damage can occur. This is why you need to take care of oil changes from time to time. The big question we often get is how often do you really need to change your car's oil? Does it have to be done as often as mechanics and vehicle manufacturers recommend?

The answer may depend on several factors. In general, it is best to go with the manufacturer's recommendations as listed in your owner's manual. That will usually provide good benchmarks to help you stay on top of your periodic maintenance. However, here are a few other factors that may affect how often you should get your oil changed:

Vehicle & Engine Types

There have been many different vehicle manufacturers and engine designs throughout automotive history. Even today, there is a wide variety of passenger cars, trucks and SUVs—from old-school gas guzzlers to emissions-free electric vehicles (EVs). Most manufacturers will recommend oil change services every 5,000-6,000 miles. Some may only require oil changes every 10,000 miles. Again, it's usually best to follow the manufacturer's maintenance recommendations, especially with today's advanced engine designs.

Vehicle Age

The age of your vehicle can have a significant impact on how often you need to change your oil. This may be due to what we just explained above with different types of engines and vehicles. An older engine design may require more frequent attention than a modern one. In general, the engine and its oil system can experience more problems as time goes on and parts wear out. If you have kept up with routine maintenance, it may still be running like a champ. The key is keeping up with that maintenance, which includes regular oil changes. The older your vehicle, the more often you may want to take care of this service to be safe. Back in the old days, oil changes were recommended every 3,000 miles, and that may be a proper frequency for your older vehicle and engine.

Vehicle Mileage

Another factor to consider along with the overall age and type of motor in your car is the actual mileage on the engine. You may have an older car without much mileage. Or, you may have a newer vehicle that has racked up a lot of miles since you've owned it. Ultimately, mileage may be even more important than age because that's really what wears out an engine and makes maintenance recommended more often. 

Oil Type

Lastly, the oil that you put in your vehicle can affect how often it needs to be changed. Synthetic oils and hybrids can last longer than traditional oil weights, but may not be recommended for certain cars and engine types. You may be able to save some money with cheaper oil options. However, you may find yourself needing to replace the oil more often. 

These are a few of the key factors that could impact how often you need to have your oil changed. Generally speaking, newer vehicles should follow the manufacturer's maintenance interval recommendations. Older cars can vary in terms of oil change frequency. Working with a trusted mechanic or auto shop can help you understand the best ways to keep your vehicle healthy for many years to come. You can stay on track with a consistent service schedule and know exactly when each maintenance procedure is needed.

If you are in the Northern Delaware area, you can count on the team at Fox Run Auto to keep your vehicle running right. Call us today at (302) 597-9205 or schedule your service appointment online. We can provide you with a custom maintenance schedule based on your vehicle, budget and automotive needs.


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