When should I change my Oil?
How often should oil and filter be changed
Change oil and filter often enough to protect the engine
from premature wear and viscosity breakdown. For most cars
and light trucks, the standard recommendation is to change
oil and filter every six months or 3,000 miles, whichever
Most late model owner's manuals say that except for "Severe
Service" applications, oil change interval can be safely
stretched to once a year or every 7,500 miles, with filter
changes at every other oil change.
When auto makers make such recommendations, one assumes they
are based on extensive durability testing. After all, auto
makers themselves would have to bear the warranty costs
should their maintenance recommendations prove inadequate.
Except for Chrysler's 7/70 powertrain warranty, and a few
others that go up to 5/50 or 6/60, most new car powertrain
warranties don't go beyond 3/36. So where's the risk? There
With proper maintenance, there is no reason an engine
shouldn't go 100,000 miles or more without developing a
thirst for oil. That is why most oil companies, as well as
aftermarket service professionals, recommend changing oil
and filter every six months or 3,000 miles.
They also make such recommendations because many motorists
are not aware that they should follow the "Severe Service"
maintenance schedule in their owner's manual, calling for
oil and filter change intervals of three to six months or
3,000 miles. Severe service (as defined by auto makers
Making frequent short trips (less than five miles)
Making frequent short trips (less than 10 miles) when
temperatures are below freezing
Driving in hot weather stop-and-go traffic
Extensive idling and/or low speed driving for long periods
of time (taxi, police, door-to-door delivery, etc.)
Driving at sustained high speeds during hot weather
Towing a trailer
Driving in areas with heavy dust (gravel roads, construction
Protective additives in a motor oil do not hold up as well
under such driving conditions for several reasons. If the
engine is not running long enough to get the oil hot,
condensation and fuel vapors will not boil off. Contaminants
will accumulate in the crankcase, leading to formation of
corrosive acids and sludge.
Excessive idling and high operating temperatures from towing
and high speed driving during hot weather accelerate
viscosity breakdown. Exposure to dust can put dirt particles
in the crankcase.
The filter also needs to be changed every time for two
reasons. Today's pint-sized filters do not contain as much
filter material as their quart-sized counterparts. The
filter contains dirty oil that can contaminate fresh oil
added during an oil change.
Considering what four quarts of oil and a filter cost,
versus the cost of replacing an engine, it is better to
change oil and filter a little more often than might be
absolutely necessary rather than risk not changing it often
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