A question we are asked daily is,
“When should I really be changing my oil”?
While opinions vary, at The Garage we have a few thoughts to share with you. In the past 20 or so years many manufacturers have offered a “Covered Maintenance” plan of one sort or another.
Vehicles sold with one of these plans will have a light or maintenance minder telling the buyer to change their oil at an interval up to 15-16,000 miles. At The Garage, we believe the main reason for these long intervals is for a manufacturer to only cover 2-3 Oil Changes in a 3 year coverage period. We believe this only makes sense to the manufacturer who is paying for the Oil Service.
On the other end of the spectrum there is a national oil service brand who has ingrained the notion of “every 3,000 miles” into the American consciousness. While an Oil Service is definitely great protection for your car, too frequent oil services just add unnecessary expense to your overall cost of vehicle ownership.
What is a healthy middle ground?
US Statistics claim the average driver covers between 10,000 and 15,000 miles per year. A valid claim can be made that having your Oil Service completed three times per year (at around 5,000 miles), or every 4-6 months is appropriate.
At The Garage we support this mileage interval for multiple reasons. First: draining your oil and its contaminants helps keep your engine internals lubricated and as clean as possible. Second: the change of filter can remove sludge or and particles tapped in the filter media. Third: having your vehicle looked over by a trained technician can aid in noting areas of concern before they become an emergency. Depending on your driving habits (see our post from The Garage on Extreme Driving) your car may require more frequent attention.
Many of today’s vehicles require a Synthetic Oil in the motor. While a Synthetic Oil is a better lubricant than a Mineral Oil, even the best synthetics will become contaminated and lose their overall effectiveness in today’s higher-revving and complex engines.
Another good rule of thumb for specialty vehicles and show cars is to change your oil and filter once every calendar year. By draining your oil, condensation, and any other contaminants will help to keep your vehicle ready for the next car show or summer cruise.