How Often Do I Really Need to Change my Oil?

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When changing your car's engine oil, it's best to follow your car's manual. If you lost your manual, adhering to the 3000 mile rule does not hurt but modern cars can easily run more than 3000 miles in one change.

I remember my dad telling me when I first got my car 20 years ago that I should always change my oil every 3000 miles or so. I kept on doing that until today and it was working fine (not so much for my wallet) but some of the mechanics I’ve talked to are surprised to see me after a month or so because I travel on my car a lot. They tell me that I could probably get a few more thousand kilometers before I should change my oil. I’m not really sure who to believe because the 3000 kilometer rule always worked for me. How often do should I change the oil in my car?

  • Jack B.
oil change schedule

First of all, I’d like to say your father was a good man for giving you sound advice 20 years ago. I also remember my father giving me a similar advice years ago and I never really forgot about it.

I’ve asked myself a couple of times in the past whether the 3000-mile rule is still applicable to this day. I mean, that was what they were telling us 20 years ago so some things might have changed, right?

Well, before we go on answering when you should change your oil. We must first understand why your car engine needs oil, how it gets used, and why you need to change it.

Why Does Your Car Need Oil?

Your car engine is a thing of beauty mechanically speaking. It’s a complex machine with numerous moving parts. Normally, these moving parts are subjected to varying levels of stress. The more they move, the more stress they endure. When two metal parts rub against each other, they also produce heat on top of the mechanical stress both of them experience. This heat and stress can damage your car engine.

In order to reduce the amount of stress they endure on a daily basis, you need to add  some form of lubricant. A lubricant is a substance that reduces friction between two surfaces when they move. When friction is reduced, heat and stress is also you are lessening the damage on your engine.

Aside from serving as a lubricant, modern oils have a bunch of additives that either help it be a better lubricant or perform secondary benefits like leaving a protective coating on the engine parts or helping in breaking down the gunk and carbon that has build up inside your engine.

car oil change

Why Do We Need to Change Oil?

Over time, the quality of the oil breaks down as it gets used. What starts as an opaque often brown to golden-brown color becomes black as it gathers the dirt and grime from the engine. The additives in your oil also lose their power and in turn fails to protect your engine. The oil filter, also gets full of particles, dirt, and metal scrapings. This causes the oil filter to stop filtering which forces the oil to the bypass valve.

How Often Should You Change Your Oil?

There is really nothing wrong with following the 3,000 mile rule. If you can afford it, getting an oil change every 3000 miles or 3 months is always a good thing but that might not be a financially sound choice for people who don’t have a big budget. That and the fact that prematurely changing your oil can cause environmental damage.

Oil formulas have changed and engines have improved since the 90s and the your oil can pretty much do its job for more than 3 months or 3000 miles. If you ask me, the way to know when you should change your oil is to go and check your car’s manual. Of course the older the car the more frequent your oil change will be. Some newer cars suggest 10,000 miles before changing your oil. That’s 3 times longer than what you would have used your oil for.

You can also do personal checks to know if your car is due for an oil change. Hearing your engine whine or some knocking sounds and often smelling oil inside your car can mean you need your oil changed. You can also check your oil if it has darkened enough to the state where it’s all black because that means you need to change the oil right away.

If you have questions about what oil you have to put in your car, when to change it, and the best practices in keeping your car engine healthy, it’s best if you talk to an expert. Lubevan

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