MUNDANE MYSTERIES: When Should You Actually Change Your Car’s Oil?

A bodybuilder needs to care of his heart. In the same way, your car can appear pristine on the outside, but it still needs regular oil changes to stay on the road. That oil keeps your engine lubed & cool while you’re driving. Waiting too long to change your oil can absolutely lead to engine damage. But changing it too frequently actually wastes money (and oil). So, how often should you actually change the oil in your vehicle?

Newer cars tell you when it’s time for an oil change, through their built-in “oil-life monitoring systems”. When your motor oil isn’t doing its job anymore, a light or notification comes up on your dashboard (usually in the shape of a dripping oil can). That icon lets you know that it’s time to get your oil changed. Once that gets done, the lube tech should reset your oil-monitoring system, and you’ll be on your way until the next time.

But what about cars without an oil-life monitoring system? The long-standing belief has always been that a vehicle’s oil should be changed every 3000 miles. But that’s actually no longer the case. In most vehicles nowadays, your oil should be good for at least 7500 miles before needing to be changed. Some vehicles, however, have engines designed for anywhere from 10K to 15K mile intervals. Those intervals, however, are based on your driving habits, so they can vary. Extreme cold or heat, heavy hauling, and excessive stop & go driving…all of that can wear out your oil sooner.

The only reason you should get your oil changed before your dashboard light comes on is if you don’t drive the vehicle frequently. Not much driving means it can take a long while for the accepted mileage to accumulate. But even when your engine is off, oil can still age, so you should change it at least once a year.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via Twitter (@AndyWebbRadio), or shoot me an email ([email protected]).

BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Berryville Graphics