How Often Should You Change You Motor Oil?

Different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes. It seems different people have different opinions on how often you should change the motor oil in your car.

How often should you change your oil? It is an existential question that has puzzled mankind since the dawn of the automobile age. We're here to give you some tips to help you understand both why you need to change your motor oil and how often to change oil.


What influences how often you need to change your motor oil:

  • Hard driving. Driving long distances, operating your vehicle in extreme weather, towing a trailer, idling for extended times or regular driving in stop-and-go traffic situations: All these take a toll on your car. Ultimately this means you need to change your oil more often.
  • Older cars. Older cars need to have their motor oil changed more often because of what's known as "blow-by." In non-technical language, that means compressed air and fuel have seeped into the crankcase. In addition, grime builds up on the rings. They become porous, which contaminates the oil.
  • Car storage or infrequent driving. If you're not driving your vehicle very much, you probably won't need to replace your motor oil as often. This is when you can probably follow the recommendations in your owner's manual.

Auto makers' recommendations for intervals between oil changes can vary by make and model. Check your owner's manual. Most manuals will say you should change your motor oil between 5,000 and 7,500 miles during ideal driving conditions. This includes perfect temperatures, short trips, reasonable speeds and driving that is easy on your vehicle's engine. Is this how you drive? Many people don't, so the next best assumption is to change your motor oil every 3,000 miles or so.

Oil change time vs. mileage can also come into play. For instance, many manufacturers recommended changing the oil on older vehicles every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. Of course, if your odometer happens to be broken, changing your oil according to time intervals is a no-brainer.

The intervals for changing synthetic oil can often be spaced farther apart than the intervals for changing traditional motor oil. Though synthetic oil tends to hold up longer, full synthetic oil changes should still be done according to the manufacturer's specifications. After all, oil changes are a simple and affordable way to help keep your car or truck running longer and better. It is penny-wise and pound-foolish to skimp on oil changes.

A couple of other important tips: