If you take a close look at the owner’s manual that came with your car, you are going to find recommendations on how regularly you should replace the engine online. This is a good baseline number to start on, but your driving habits and other factors such as engine wear and tear could mean that you need to change it more often than the document may suggest, or even extend the interval a bit longer.
First, Check the Owner’s Manual
The primary source for engine oil change information is your car owner’s or maintenance manual. If you do not have one, you can search online or consult your car dealer. This manual will give you recommendations for your car’s specific year, make, model as well as the engine. The type of oil, capacity and viscosity are equally important as the engine oil replacement interval and so, ensure you use compatible oil.
Car manufacturers today tend to specify varying oil change intervals for conventional operating conditions as well as special operating conditions which are sometimes referred to as severe operating conditions. The conventional driving conditions refer to the averages which are 11,500 miles per annum, 55% highway and 45% city driving, light cargo and passengers only. Special driving conditions, on the other hand, refer to those who spend most of their time making short trips, in stop and go traffic or hauling heavy goods. It may seem counterintuitive, but more highway miles are better for the transmission and the engine.
A vehicle driven under conventional driving conditions needs less maintenance and for such a car, the recommended schedule for changing the oil is between every 7,500 to 10,000 miles, recommends BGS. If driven in special or severe conditions, the oil needs to be changed after every 5,000 to 7,500 miles for the same car.
Assess Your Vehicle and Driving
Where and how you drive is equally important as to what car you drive as well as the kind of oil you utilise. For instance, driving in stop and go traffic leads to oxidation and overheating and short trips do not allow adequate time and temperature to burn off water condensation. If this is your style of driving, then you should follow the special conditions schedule. On the other hand, if you do most of your driving on the highway, the engine has adequate time and temperature to burn off the water that has accumulated. As such, you can safely extend the engine oil change interval.
Synthetic engine oil lasts longer than conventional oil and that’s because it has fewer impurities. If you utilise synthetic engine oil, then you ought to follow the conventional schedule and replace the oil less frequently.
Engine issues can reduce the lifespan of the oil. Worn out piston rings and seals increase oil consumption, thus leaving less than desirable oil in the engine. Overheating also oxidises the oil faster, which leads to more deposits. Misfires from the cylinder can also result in oil thinning, which makes it a less effective lubricant. If you have experienced these issues, then it is advisable to replace the oil more often and ensure that the engine is properly repaired.
Why are Car Oil Changes Important?
The oil is a coolant, a hydraulic fluid and a lubricant. It is essential for the proper function and longevity of the engine. The oil wears over time, thus reducing the level of protection that it provides and that’s why a replacement is required.
Keep in mind that all engines consume the oil and most of them leak. As such, you should check and replace the oil on a regular basis. Doing an assessment after every 7,000 to 10,000 miles just takes a few minutes. Your owner’s manual will show you how to do it, but if you are uncertain, a trusted mechanic can be of help. Always have extra engine oil and a funnel to top it off when it goes below the ‘low’ marker.