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How Often Should You Change Your Oil? (+FAQs)

September 9, 2021

Everyone knows how important a regular oil change is for your engine. 

However, how often should you change your oil? 

What are some factors that influence the frequency of an oil change?

In this article, we’ll answer both these questions in detail. 

We’ll also cover the service maintenance schedules to follow according to your driving style.      

This Article Contains:

Let’s begin! 

How Often Should You Change Your Oil?   

Your vehicle’s recommended oil change frequency depends on several factors, mainly your driving habits and vehicle age. 

For example, older vehicle models will demand a different oil change frequency compared to a newer car or a modern vehicle. 

Here’s a look:

A. For Older Vehicles

Older vehicle models often feature a time and mileage-based oil-changing frequency. Therefore, you need to manually check your vehicle’s oil levels and get an oil change. 

With older vehicle types, even if you don’t do heavy driving, it is best to get an oil change twice a year. You can then simply top up your engine with clean oil every few months.  

Your oil change frequency also depends on the type of maintenance recommendation you fit into, such as whether you belong to the normal or severe service category.

B. For Newer Vehicles

Newer vehicles and modern vehicle models are often equipped with oil-life monitoring systems that notify you when you run out of oil. These come in handy because you never have to worry about the oil change frequency on your own. 

A newer car will likely still be under the manufacturer’s warranty, which covers any costs for oil maintenance and change. If so, you don’t need to hesitate about frequent car service visits! 

But what are the factors that determine the frequency of an oil change for both old and new cars?     

4 Factors That Influence The Frequency Of The Oil Change

Your oil-changing frequency depends on the following factors:

1. Type Of Oil Used

Car engines use two major types of motor oil — conventional oil (like crude oil) and synthetic motor oil. 

Conventional oil made from crude oil requires frequent oil changes and maintenance since it isn’t very refined. 

Synthetic motor oil is carefully formulated to have a longer oil life and be more stable at high temperatures. Therefore, synthetic oil will have a lower oil change frequency.

You will have to decide on an oil replacement routine depending upon the type of oil you use. 

It’s best to refer to the owner’s manual to see if your car’s oil system has any specific requirements or oil change tips. Some older car models are better suited for mineral oil, while others require synthetic oil.

2. Your Car’s Oil Levels

Keeping an eye on the car’s oil levels is a good rule of thumb for car owners. This allows you to know when to top up some clean oil and when to replace it. 

The easiest way to check the oil level in your car is by using the car’s dipstick. Simply dip it in the engine oil and then determine the oil level based on the oil marks on the dipstick. Then, refill or replace the old oil with conventional or synthetic oil if necessary.  

3. Driving Conditions

Extreme temperatures, rough driving habits, and uneven terrain can greatly impact your oil life and engine oil consumption. 

For example, an older car used for short trips will require a different oil change interval than a newer car used for off-roading and heavy towing. 

Shorter, infrequent trips in cold weather may also exert pressure on your engine’s oil system and oil filter. 

Also, if you notice that the oil’s color is often dark and there’s smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, you may need to replace the old oil more often. Exhaust pipe smoke is never good, and you should get your oil filter checked in this case. 

4. Engine And Car Type

Each engine type has different oil change tips and specifications. 

For example, diesel engines dirty your vehicle’s oil more frequently than petrol engines. Turbocharged engines also utilize more engine oil than regular ones. 

It is, therefore, best to consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual before forming a routine. 

An owner’s manual will tell you everything you need to know about your car’s service requirements. 

A 3-liter Toyota vehicle engine may have a very different oil change schedule than a 3-liter BMW engine. The same goes for a Toyota Rav4 versus a Toyota Prius, for example.

The recommended oil change frequency also depends on which service maintenance category you fall into. 

Let’s look at them.

‘Normal’ Vs. ‘Severe’ Service Maintenance: What Is It? 

Service maintenance schedules are categorized into two types; normal and severe. 

And these categories are dictated by your driving style and car type.

People who practice good driving habits, regularly drive their car, perform routine tire rotation, and mostly stick to on-road rides can usually abide by normal service maintenance. This is also true for people with relatively new cars. 

On the other hand, severe maintenance requires frequent changes and motor oil replacement and is designed for users who fall into one of the following categories:

If you’re someone who engages in any of these driving styles, the recommended oil change frequency for you is every 3000-4000 miles. 

Aside from these, someone with an older car will also be required to follow a regular oil change routine along with oil filter replacement. You may need to refer to the owner’s manual for specific maintenance requirements and oil change tips. 

Final Thoughts

So, are frequent oil changes better? 

Most car service providers would advise you to get a routine oil change every 5000 miles. But as we have seen, it completely depends on the oil type, driving style, and the vehicle’s oil levels.

While frequent motor oil replacements don’t hurt anybody, you are simply wasting your time and resources if you do them more times than required. 

The ideal thing to do is to check your car oil level every 1-2 months in the beginning. This will give you a rough idea of how much oil your engine consumes and how frequently you need to top up or change it with clean oil. 

After that, you can always rely on your instincts and previous oil change experiences. You can also consult a car mechanic for any oil maintenance and service queries. 

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With RepairSmith, you get top-quality auto repair and maintenance service from ASE-certified technicians, and you can avail yourself of competitive, upfront pricing. 
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