How Often Do You Really Need to Change Your Oil
Posted by: Lydia on 25/05/2017
Whether you’ve owned one car - or a dozen - like all car owners, you likely quickly learned this lesson: car ownership equals car maintenance.
No matter the make or age of your vehicle, you need to ensure it’s well maintained. From rotating your tyres to polishing your decal and regularly topping up your engine fluids, maintenance is done in a number of ways.
But while maintenance is important, how much is too much? Some car owners polish their cars every weekend; and while it's great to be so attentive, that level of attention isn’t really necessary. But what about things like oil changes? How often do you really need to change your oil?
Understanding oil and your car’s fluids
The reality is, too few motorists actually consider their cars’ need for fluids. When you think about your car, odds are that you think about its colour, its design, and all the features of its interior. Beyond that, you probably don’t think about much else. Even car gurus can talk for days about engines and suspensions and intercoolers without actually thinking about what is required to run it all.
In the absence of oil and other necessary liquids like fuel and coolant, your car won’t go far. In general, these liquids should be of good quality and kept in good condition, but they don’t always have to be of the highest quality. For example, premium fuel is regarded as an option, but definitely not a necessity (unless specified by your car’s manufacturer). For most motorists, it’s usually just a waste of money. Either way, the important thing is that you maintain, monitor, and replace your car’s liquids as necessary to ensure it runs properly.
Dirty oil is a slippery slope
Regularly changing your oil is not just about crossing your i’s and dotting your t’s when it comes to car maintenance. It's actually essential to ensure your car runs well, and doesn't sustain heavy damage. This is true of all your car’s fluids, really, but it's especially true with oil, given its major role in your car’s engine.
As anyone who has ever visited a mechanic knows, replacing a windshield wiper or taillight may be annoying to do, but it’s a small thing. But your engine depends on clean, quality oil flowing through it, so this is one area you don’t want to skimp on. As some of us unfortunately know, anything that goes wrong with your engine can mean a huge expense. Never will you see a mechanic’s face so grim as when they have to go tell a customer “It’s an engine issue.” Changing your oil regularly can help you avoid that horrible moment when you discover that your engine problem isn’t repairable, and find your car heading to the junkyard on the back of a tow truck.
So how often do I need to change my oil?
Regular maintenance of your car is essential - and the world is full of horror stories about motorists who didn’t properly tend to their vehicles and thus prove this point. On the other hand, we all know of that one friend or family member who becomes inconsolable if there’s a little scratch or scuff on their car. The majority of motorists fall somewhere in between these two extremes - and most know generally that they should change their oil at regular intervals.
So how often should oil be changed? At one time, the 4800 kilometre target (roughly translating into 3000 miles for drivers in nations with the imperial system) was the ideal. Cars have progressed a lot since that time, and improvements in engine build and the quality of components in motor oil have ensured that 4800 kilometres is no longer the target.
Instead, around 8000 to 11000 kilometres - double the old measurement - is now the ideal. Some newer vehicles can go for even longer. The correct interval will vary depending on your car and how you use it. There is a way to know just when the best time is to change your oil: check it weekly. All it takes is a minute under the bonnet to check your fluids. This is a good habit to get into not only for oil, but for car maintenance overall.
Car maintenance is critical, and caring enough to attend to your car regularly is essential to its longevity. With a recent survey finding that 60% of car owners struggle to change a tyre, it is indeed better to be a car owner who is vigilant rather than indifferent.
“Do you know how to change your oil?” is usually the first question new drivers hear when looking to learn about car care. Learning how to check your oil (and other fluids) - or even change it yourself - can reap big rewards and put you ahead of the pack.
Once you’ve got a handle on how to keep your car in good working order, all that’s left is to hop in your car, get on the highway, and head out on a road trip or to a drive-in for a classic car experience. You’ll save time, money, and ensure that you can enjoy all the benefits that come with driving a car you love.
How often do you change your oil? What interval has been best for your vehicle? Let us know in the comments below: